Local musician aims to take tunes to a broader audience

Lacombe's James Andruski pleased to see CD come to fruition

Local singer James Andruski reveals quite the natural knack for putting together tunes that tap into an array of genres on his latest disc Anthology.

Something that really stands out as the tunes unfold is his ability to change his vocal style to match the sensibilities of a given song. The disc is divided into two parts – The Studio Sessions and The Shed Sessions.

A couple of the tunes appear on both parts – with of course a different result.

For example, the rendition of Proud of My Wife which is featured on The Shed Sessions clips along – driven by a simple acoustic guitar line – and Andruski’s voice melds with the folk-country nature of the tune perfectly.

“I think it’s just a feeling I get when I sit at the amp and just start playing,” he explains during a recent interview. “The voice and the guitar on The Shed Sessions are more of a blend – the feel of it is just coming out honestly.”

Shelly’s Song is again built around an engaging guitar melody, but his voice takes on more even, clearer tones. Meanwhile, the disc’s opening cut Get It Up treads more into rock territory, with Andruski again adapting his voice to suit the energetic kick of the song.

Blue Whisper slows things down to a more vulnerable, reflective place. Midday Summer Daydream – an attractive instrumental – is aptly named.

Andruski hails from Winnipeg originally. There were aspects to those formative years that weren’t easy by any means, as he recalls instances of teasing. “I lived there till I was about 13 – doing pretty much what every kid did, playing hockey, going to school. I was kind of an introverted person – very quiet, very shy.”

He recalls blushing easily, which in turn led to more teasing, which heightened his embarrassment during those painfully self-conscious adolescent years.

He recalls being teased with the Ukrainian jokes, the Polish jokes, the blonde jokes – it just accumulated. “But I also was the luckiest guy in the world, because when I was the shyest most introverted guy, there’d be a couple girls at a school dance and they’d come and drag me onto the dance floor. It got me out of my shell a bit,” he laughs.

During those years, music also provided a kind of comfort. He recalls spending time in the family’s garage working on projects and listening to all kinds of songs on the radio. An interest was sparked. “You would be phoning in requests to the stations – those were the best times,” he adds with a laugh.

Eventually, the family headed west to Brandon, Manitoba.

“When I left Winnipeg at 13, I thought, well, maybe this will be a new start.”

Andruski, 49, continued playing hockey, but soon found something else he seemed to have a knack for – songwriting. “I wrote a couple of tunes, and never really cared about it until I was 17. Someone at my house found the tape, and my girlfriend and some of her friends were saying, ‘Who the heck is singing on that tape?’

“I said, I think it was just me and a buddy, so that kind of got things going.” He had also been taking guitar lessons since he about 10-years-old, so that skill was being honed while he was finding his voice as well. So as he started growing more confident in his musical sensibilities, he started playing in a few garage bands over the years as well.

“Or we would just sit down in the basement and play. They’d want to play heavy metal but I wasn’t into that. So I’d get them to play country, or country rock.”

He eventually began a career in construction and surveying, but music was always a part of his life. While attending Red River Community College, he met a fellow by the name of Dave Gordon who was a local DJ at the time. “He listened to a couple of my tunes, and he really liked this Blue Whisper song. His mom was married to a record executive, so we proceeded to tape it on four-track.

“She said, ‘That is one hell of a song. You had better do something with it’.”

Life continued with a busy career, marriage and an eventual move with his wife Tammy to Central Alberta in 2001. But as already said, music was never far from his heart and mind. There would be times when a demo of a song would be playing and folks within earshot would seem to take note.

He started singing at house parties. “The first time I played a club was in about 1989; it was at a songwriter’s club – one of the better ones in Winnipeg,” he recalls.

“I had to go up before the house band, so I had to just get into my head – play the song and get right into it. The whole place went quiet.” The chatter started up when he was done, so he promptly performed another. Things quieted down again. Then he jammed on Sweet Home Alabama with another guy and had a blast. The confidence continued to grow.

Meanwhile, there is nothing like creating and performing music to enrich a person’s life. “All my songs are from my soul,” he said. “That’s what so important for me – it’s got to be the guitar, the voice and the feeling of what I’m going to write about.

“It’s also soothing. It has brought me out of depression, too.” He recalls being in his apartment back in 1987 at a particularly low point. “I started to sing and play about what was bothering me – I sang it out, and I felt a lot better. If you ask me what music does for me – it’s complete therapy.”

For a sampling of Andruski’s music, check out a couple of postings on YouTube. His CDs are also available at the Sound House and David Gilmore Guitars in Red Deer, and Lacombe Audio Video in Lacombe.



Just Posted

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

The Sylvan Lake Gulls show off the home jerseys (white) and their way jerseys at the Gulls Media Day on June 17, before the season opener. Following the media day, the team took to the field for their first practise. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Gulls ready to throw first pitch as construction continues

The Gulls inaugural season kicks off June 18 with a game against the Edmonton Prospects

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read