On the day that we learned that another music legend, Prince, had been lost in this strange year I went to the B2 to see Milly Hirst supporting Benjamin Francis Leftwich in front of a sellout crowd. I have very rarely been to the B2 but on my last visit there I spent much of the evening with my good friend and Norwich music legend known to most of us as Andy Sacre. As Benjamin was closing his set this time, I headed to Cactus Cafe Bar to try and catch Iain Lowery’s Thanks at OosWoolf. It was a typically eclectic and brilliant night of fun there with so many friendly and familar faces, dozens of mutual friends of Andy’s. I was wishing at the time that he was there and missed him. The following morning I opened up my email and learned the news via this blog from his colleagues that Andy had died. This was a devastating shock and I spent much of the day in a haze, questioning my sanity and re-reading the message over and over, wondering if I had misunderstood it in some ghastly way. There had been concern about him recently as he had become very quiet and was not seen for a while. I had heard nothing from him since the beginning of the month when we chatted on email and he sent me some of his recordings. I listened to them many times again during the day and with this news some of the lyrics were just heartbreakingly sad. Breaking the awful news to friends was a desperately difficult thing to do and the shock was palpable. I’ve only known Andy a few years but time is immaterial when one connects with such a soul as his. Reading reactions throughout the day it became obvious that he touched hundreds of people in a similar way. Everyone speaking of his generosity of spirit, time, energy and talent. His love of music and his care and kindness for others was a common experience of this beautiful and humble soul. I do so hope he had just some inkling of how much love there was and is for him.
We shall all miss him so much, those big twinkling eyes under that hat, his constant concern for others and his remarkable talents as a musician (a multi instrumentalist at that), with a beautiful voice which we did not hear often enough. He was involved in so many musical projects, not just as a player but also as a producer. Some of my dearest friends are people whom I met through and because of Andy and he also introduced me to so many bands I loved via those unforgettable nights at The Blueberry. Wreck Age, Vicars of Stiffkey, Kamensko to name just a few, plus of course his own Earthquakes played there several times. He would set things up, run around making sure the sound was just right, make sure everyone was ok, and still manage to enjoy the gigs. I shall remember him wide-eyed with joy and wonder watching The Grazing Saints, and the two of us turning to each other with tears welling up just after we heard Milly perform Mary for the very first time.
Of course Andy was instrumental in putting together a fundraiser to replace the smashed guitar of Adrian Howes, another unforgettable day and something that showed what Andy was all about. We spoke a lot late at nights and I know just how much effort, care, and love he devoted to that to help a fellow musician and friend.
His loss as a friend, musician, artist and all round lovely, gentle, sensitive, caring person is just immeasurable. I am still struggling to take this all in. On the day we learned this news Chad made the comment that “We should all try and be at a gig this evening, it would have made someone very happy”, this is so true. With some coaxing from my good friends I did head towards The Plasterers, a perfect place to be. The place was packed, it was loud, it was emotional, and crucially it was full with lots of his friends. It was quite healing and helped being around mutual friends. As for the music? It was perfect with amazing sets from Epia, Sink Ya Teeth, and the extraordinary duo Soyuz Rats who somehow seemed to turn what was going on in my head into a glorious, cacophonous musical soundtrack. I recognised one half of Soyuz Rats as Mantid Snip, who played at The Church of Art during the Lanes Fayre last year, another gig where Andy worked tirelessly above and beyond the call of duty making for an unforgettable event.
Andy, at a gig filming on his infamous “crapcam” after a hat-swap with Adrian Howes.
His constant support for people has been a recurring theme in conversation over the past few days. For me, he was always so appreciative and supportive of what I do and telling me that he read every posting I did even if it was about something not necessarily he would expect to like, because he was just so interested in music. He let people know that he cared and supported them. He was so much better with people than he knew and he always spoke so highly of everyone when we chatted. He had so much love for people and music.
We would sometimes chat online late at night and I learned a lot about Andy through these conversations which would often go on until dawn. I have been busying myself with gigs but it’s at these quiet hours afterwards late at night when I am feeling his loss in a big, big way. He was a sincerely lovely and genuine soul with no agenda other than to help others and create art. I always knew he was special but now I am learning just how special.
There is some talk and hope of a musical tribute of some kind when the time is right. In the meantime, friends can meet at The Owl on Thursday to celebrate the Andy Sacre Experience and listen together to some of his music.
Yesterday I saw The Vagaband, again at The Plasterers. The Whistling Song has never felt more poignant. They paid tribute to Prince with an amazing and unexpected version of Purple Rain but in a way also did to Andy, closing with a cover of He Was a Friend of Mine.
We all have our feelings, thoughts and memories of Andy and this piece is just about the Andy I knew. I hope nobody will think it insensitive to share my thoughts but I just feel I need to express them. I’ve been filling my time with lots of music but now have to express this loss and accept it.
Rest in Peace Andy, and Love Loudly too. I hope you’re playing lots of music with all these musicians where you are now. We should all remember to Loveloudly.
Thanks to Frank Maiale for this hat photo, I found it very moving.