The Andalyn Lewis Band shown performing May 15 in Highland Brewing is lead guitarist Zach Haney, drummer Harry Lewis and singer-guitarist Andalyn Lewis. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Her country-rock Andalyn Lewis Band sparkled in its debut as a trio, May 15 at the second annual benefit Pizza PanDemonium gourmet pizza taste contest then themed fashion show. Proceeds went to Eblen Charities and Appalachian Angels of WNC.
Serenely-singing Kendra Warren opened. Andalyn followed. The jazzy Hank West Band closed, as patrons still feasted on pizza. Acts played in Highland Brewing’s new two-story Event Center, in Asheville. Rock Eblen’s Bioflyer Productions put on the event with Ginger Wilde. She directed 30 models in the colorful (Alice in) Wonderland Fashion Fantasy. Sarah Merrell helped organize.
Andalyn, 16, is emerging as a singer, songwriter, video artist, and bass and rhythm guitarist. She seems born to play strings, since “Andalyn” nearly rhymes with “mandolin.” She goes simply by Andalyn, as a performer.
The six-foot brunet with model-caliber looks and joyful demeanor is electrifying both visually and audibly. She won first place in the inaugural WNC Video Music Award, for 2014, for the original song “Carolina Summer.”
She has a strong, earthy, resonant, classic country-twanged voice on most originals. She can also belt out rock songs, or sing a smooth ballad. Her studio and stage performances are polished well beyond her years, mature yet playful. It is evident she relaxes, focuses and has fun on stage.
“I love playing music, and sharing it with others,” she told The Tribune on Memorial Day. “It’s amazing to see people enjoy it — by singing along or dancing — or hearing them applaud or holler. Often, when you look out, you can only see the lights and shadows. But sometimes, I see people screaming. I try to make eye contact with as many people as I can” to connect artistically. She is much more reserved off-stage, her family noted.
Andalyn said she gets extra gratification from playing benefits such as PanDemonium. “I especially love it when you can see people who are getting helped.” For instance, she played in a benefit for a four-year-old Asheville girl with cancer two years ago in Altamont Brewing. The girl was “dancing and smiling” to Andalyn’s music, she recalled. “I feel I’m helping her.”
Andalyn as a toddler, drumming w/her father.
She is Harry and Shell Danielson Lewis’ only child. Her father drums for her trio. The lead guitarist is Zach Haney of Canton. Those three have been in the country rock band of esteemed guitarist-singer Joe Lasher, Jr. They have played with him in recent weeks. But they are veering onto their own, now that 19-year-old Lasher moved to Nashville, Tenn.
Andalyn has played in more than 150 gigs in the Southeast since age nine, such as in Asheville’s premier nightclub The Orange Peel. Most were with Lasher in the last two years. In opening for him in 2015, she and Miranda Clark were billed as the Honeybees. They played in the first PanDemonium. The duo was joined by Haney, and briefly by Lasher.
Andalyn started in teen band The Lowdown, at 14. Her debut singing on stage was at age eight, in The Orange Peel. She and other Rock Academy music students took turns on stage. She pounded out The Beatles’ staccato “Come Together.”
“I was terrified” ahead, Andalyn recalled. “But once I got on stage, I thought it was cool.”
She treated the packed PanDemonium crowd to that classic, and her fiery take of Led Zeppelin’s soulful hard rocker “Whole Lotta Love.” She exuded its primal energy magnificently.
She can bellow out “American Woman,” by the Guess Who’s Burton “The Voice” Cummings. She learned classic rock from her Baby Boomer parents. She also covers funk-rocking INXS, soulful Aretha Franklin, Miranda Lambert and Bonnie Raitt.
She said her country favorites to listen to include 2015 smash star Chris Stapleton, Kasey Musgraves and Lambert. She listens to musicals. She admires Lzzy Hale, for fronting hard rock Halestorm.
“She’s always had a rock edge,” Shell observed. Andalyn also plays acoustic, solo shows. She steered from rock toward country music, for greater career opportunity, Harry said. Shell noted “country today has many genres.” Andalyn ventures into eclectic Americana.
Many of her songs are about breakups, of various sorts. Andalyn said, “I have dealt with actual heartbreak. I haven’t actually dated. But I’ve felt it, from (foiled) friendships in bands.” Her songs are “just about emotions. I write on what I’m doing that day.” She likes writing by a cozy fireplace in winter.
Andalyn co-wrote “Black and Blue Mascara” on breaking up, with her mother contributing. “She’ll start a melody, and we’ll sing,” Shell said. “We work off of each other.”
Andalyn agreed, “We work well together. My mother is a lyrical genius. She’s amazing with words. I’m better with melodies.” Yet “with her guidance, I expand my vocabulary” in lyrics. One up her sleeve is “discombobulated.” Looking ahead, “I’d love to be a songwriter” for others, too.
Before Shell was a lyricist she modeled, acted (as Dominique on General Hospital, until ’95), then wrote TV and film scripts such as for Power Rangers. Her mother, Selene Gallopo, was a singer-songwriter.
Andalyn has lived in Buncombe County for a decade, since age six. She was born in Laguna Beach, Calif. She is a rising senior, and honor student with a 4.5 adjusted GPA.
She eyes a college degree in music business, such as to handle her contracts. “It’s great when a creative individual also understands the business,” her mother said. “Fame can be fleeting. You can work in a music agency, while also on your music.”
Harry Lewis can give pointers on a music career. He drummed for New Jersey-based Smash Palace, a power rock-new wave act with an Epic LP in 1985. They got MTV airplay. Harry’s bands ranged from bagpiping to “industrial gothic-rock.”
“He definitely guides me,” Andalyn said of her father. “He walks me through the whole experience. He has seen what a singer should do,” including simply “thanking the sound man.” Shell said, “We tell her to always be grateful, kind, and work hard.” She advises a “truthful” entourage. “People give her honest critiques.”
Smash Palace lead guitarist Steve Butler played guitars and co-produced Andalyn’s debut, five-song EP entitled Perfect Excuses. It came out in October, on Andalyn’s label Jetta Records. Steve and Brian Butler penned three of the five songs.
“Carolina Summer” is about beach living. She also did a video for up-tempo “Not Enough.” In this emotional jewel, she tells off an unappreciative, uncompromising beau — with vocal angst and Southern sass.
She tenderly sings “My Best Friend,” yearning for lost, fond memories such as hanging out in the schoolyard and dancing all night. She gave the Butlers a youthful perspective for such lyrics.
Title tract “Perfect Excuses” is another farewell song, but optimistic with “even cloudy skies turn blue.” “That one was hers; the Butlers tweaked it,” Shell said. “It’s about courage to change and taking power back.” Andalyn officially co-wrote that and the “Mascara” song.
She has finished ten more originals, such as “Live in the Moment” about a mother-daughter bond and pausing to refresh.
Looking ahead, Andalyn said “I would love to tour, and visit many places.” Her three dream venues are historic — the Grand Ole Opry, Hollywood Bowl, and Cavern Club in London that launched The Beatles. A bonus is “my Dad played there, too.”
PanDemonium pizza winners were: Del Vecchio’s as taste testers people’s choice, Piazza Wood Fired Oven for best meat combo, and Frank’s Roman Pizza for best veggie combo.
Fashion designer top awards were Best Overall Design to P. K. Reynolds McKnight for The King and Queen of Hearts, and Most Creative Design to Rachel Ackerman for the Cheshire Cat and Caterpillar.
The Alice in Wonderland cake (mad hat, playing cards, etc.) was created by Felicia Cantrell, for Kim Gilliland’s Fresh as Can Bee catering.
For more on Andalyn Lewis’ music, check AndalynRocks.com.