Thursday, January 19, 2012

"You gotta see this guy"

Andy Cummings is so good at what he does that fans tell the singer and guitarist that he needs to broaden his horizons _ "Go to New York,"  "Go to Los Angeles," they say.

"I take it as a compliment," says Cummings, who won Best Solo Artist honors in last year's Worcester Music Awards. "But I like being here. I like being the guy that people tell visitors,  'You gotta see this guy play before you go.' I'm a booster for Worcester."

A fleet-fingered guitar player and supple-voiced singer, Cummings performs from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday in the Coppertop.

Though he has been in and out of various bands over the years_ most recently playing in a ''50s-leaning rockabilly trio_ Cummings is at home as a solo performer. He enjoys a wide array of music and is as natural an entertainer as he is musician.

"I've seen a lot of guys end up playing songs for themselves. If I tailored the set list for me, it would be full of lesser-known songs. But I'm not ashamed to say I tailor a set list for the audience. It's still a challenge to find material that I like, will be known in a crowd, and suits my voice," he says.

Since hitting the coffeehouse circuit 15 years ago, Cummings has amassed a thick catalog of tunes, some of which are still staples in his show.

"'Pinball Wizard,' " Cummings says without hesitation when asked to mention a song he's been playing forever. "I wouldn't call it my favorite Who song, but I love playing it. It's got a great guitar part and lends itself to showmanship."

Cummings also teaches guitar, which he believes has stepped up his game as a performer.

"Joe Satriani said that teaching guitar teaches you how to get your own (act) together," Cummings says. "You have to be ready when the students arrive and know what you're talking about."

Cummings says he was the class clown in school and the one to unabashedly perform at family events as a kid. Yet, he never thought he'd actually be able to turn his talents and passions into a sustainable career.

"I'm teaching and playing, and all along kind of laughing on the inside thinking, "I can't believe I get to do this for a living,'" he says.

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