ELKO – Andy Hedges does not spend too much time writing new material, instead choosing to find the hidden gems his audience may not have heard.
Hedges’ performances feature a combination of poetry and music that he digs into the archives to find and bring back to life.
The Lubbock, Texas native does not write a lot his own material but has always had an interest in poems and folk music from the old days of American West.
“Since the beginning I’ve been drawn to the old traditional material,” he said. “I recite mostly old classic poems. Poems from the trail driving era and the early cowboy poets that followed that. I focus on the old-time stuff rather than writing my own material.”
He further explained that he finds old songs and poetry by buying used records and songbooks. Hedges also mentioned that the internet has made his search for hidden gems easier since a lot of old poems and songs have been published online.
Hedges is unsure if he will take time to write more of his own material but said he is not always interested in some of what more modern artists produce. For now, he plans on going into the archives to present old material to a new audience.
“Not everybody who writes songs should be writing them. There are a lot of bad songs being written, a lot of bad poetry being written and that’s not really what I’ve been drawn to,” he said. “I’m a lot more interested in these old songs, digging them up and finding obscure things that people haven’t heard before and presenting those in front of a modern audience.”
Hedeges has also recently launched a podcast. It features a reading of cowboy poetry and an interview with a poet or songwriter. Hedges is hoping to take advantage of having artists gathered in one place and produce a few new episodes while in Elko.
“One of the things that has been so wonderful about my involvement in cowboy poetry is that I’ve met a lot of wonderful people,” he said. “I get to spend a lot of time with those folks and I love hearing their stories. I wanted to record those and share them with my followers, so the podcast is a way to do that.”
Even though he works with older material, Hedges likes to find ways to bring new life into the songs and poems he presents to his audience. Hedges pointed out that a lot of the pieces he reinterprets have been reinterpreted before him and he considered himself lucky to be a part of the process that helps a song evolve over time.
“I’m never really trying to recreate an old recording, I’m not trying to replicate what’s already been done,” he said. “I really try to bring myself to the song and do it in my own way."