Rock & Roll
Halfway through 2013 — a banner year that included four national tours, a Daytrotter session, an appearance at the Americana Music Festival, and the release of a critically acclaimed EP — Andrew Leahey was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Surgeons told him that if he didn’t have it removed, the tumor was guaranteed to make him deaf in one ear… and eventually threaten his life. They also recommended he take a break from his band, Andrew Leahey & the Homestead, a heartland rock & roll group steeped in the melodic, guitar-driven music of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen. Andrew did take a break… but not for long. Brain surgery happened in November. A local benefit show featuring performances by some of Andrew’s Nashville friends — including Jason Isbell and the Wild Feathers — happened in December. Come January, Andrew Leahey & the Homestead were writing new songs again, rolling Andrew’s recent brush with death into anthemic tunes stacked with vocal harmonies, dual guitar leads, super-sized hooks, and the occasional pedal steel. Once February hit, the guys hit the highway, kicking off a three-week tour that included some of the band’s biggest shows to date. “I remember driving to the hospital on the morning of my surgery,” Andrew says. “I was listening to Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever and thinking, ‘Man, this album sounds great.’ The way the acoustic guitar pops out of the right speaker during “Running Down a Dream,” or the way Jeff Lynne layers the percussion during “A Face in the Crowd”… that’s the kind of stuff you sorta take for granted. You never stop and think, ‘I’m so thankful that both of my ears are working, so I can hear these things in stereo.’ That morning, I learned not to take the music for granted. And I was worried that I’d learned my lesson too late… but then I woke up in a hospital bed, with the brain tumor removed and my hearing still intact, and I knew that I needed to make the most of my second chance. So that’s where the Homestead is at. We’re not taking anything for granted. The songs reflect that.” This is music for city highways and country lanes, for pop fans and roots rockers, for the heart as well as the heartland. It’s desperation and redemption and gratitude, funneled through electric guitars. It’s Andrew Leahey & the Homestead. Here’s to second chances.