Glengormley singer-songwriter Andrea Magee and her partner Ben Jones have jetted off to the USA to perform a series of gigs and finish writing their debut album.
On Wednesday, June 11, the couple flew to New Orleans where they will play shows at venues on the world famous Frenchmen Street before their tour moves on to Nashville, Austin, New York and Boston.
The two talented musicians and songwriters are returning to the US after enjoying a successful three-month tour of the country earlier this year.
Andrea (29) and Ben (31), both long-time solo performers, and their two accompanists, Gary Lucas and Josh Roots, travelled from Seattle to Boston between February and May, taking in 25 towns and cities along the way, sleeping on floors and gigging to earn enough money to get to their next destination.
Having set out as solo artists, they soon decided to combine their creative talents and formed a band, Beat Root.
“We realised we were working better as a team so it made more sense to collaborate,” Andrea explained.
“We harmonise so well together so it made a lot of sense. What we were doing together drew in such a wide audience of people, especially and Englishman and an Irish girl together,” Ben added.
The band experienced many highlights over the three months, including opening shows for country music star Dale Watson and being invited on to a radio station in Las Vegas after being spotted busking on ‘the strip’. And they absolutely fell in love with Austin, Texas, overwhelmed by the city’s rich live music scene and the incredible reaction to their sound.
“It was really refreshing to see so many people coming out to see live music and just to dance - every night of the week. It really makes you believe in yourself and what you’re doing so much more because they believe in you and really react to you,” Andrea continued.
The former X Factor contestant, who has turned down the chance of appearing on hit BBC1 show The Voice, is back living with her parents in Glengormley after she and Ben gave up their apartments in Kent before heading off the US.
“It’s a huge gamble, but if you don’t believe in it and you don’t take the risks and you don’t try then you’ll never know,” she said. “If you believe in it enough then what’s the point in holding back?
“It’s not a glamorous lifestyle, but we are working hard and trying to make something happen.”
Andrea and Ben, who are heading back to the US as a duo, have been busy gigging over the past few weeks to fund their tour, including performing a show at The Empire in Belfast.
They describe their musical style as “a fusion of folk, roots, howling blues, classic pop and block rockin’ beats” - a sound they developed while touring America.
“Ben’s really influenced by The Beatles and real 60s stuff and obviously my stuff is really roots orientated and I try to draw on all the Irish music that I came from so it’s really foot-stomping stuff,” Andrea said.
The creative couple are currently trying to raise enough money to allow them to record their debut album, possibly while they are in the US. And they are asking fans of their music to help fund the process by pre-purchasing albums online at PledgeMusic.
“It allows your fan base to feel like they have been a part of making the record. You’re cutting out the middle man completely and you’re making a record that you know what the demand is before you even make it and that demand is from people who really believe in what you’re doing,” Ben explained.
With just over half of the tracks already written, they are hoping to write the rest while on the road. And because they have creative control, they’re determined to record the album on old-style analogue equipment with no electronic “jiggery pokery”.
“As artists we know the sound that we’re looking for and it’s nice to know that we have the freedom to do what we want. We know the songs and the sounds that go down well with our fans so it’s lovely,” Andrea said.
“It’s going to be really honest and organic. We’ve found our sound and we’re really proud of it and it’s everything who we are. It’s a fusion of both of us and it’s going down really well. It’s for people who love really raw, rootsy music and it appeals to young and old.”
• Find out more about Beat Root’s debut album and how to pre-purchase copies by logging on to www.pledgemusic.com/artists/beatroot
• Watch Beat Root performing Gun Down live by clicking here.