Abbotsford News: Guitarist York has been with Mellencamp for 18 years

By Kevin Mills - Abbotsford News

John Mellencamp is coming to Abbotsford on June 19 and like hundreds of other concerts, he will have guitarist Andy York backing him up on stage.

York has been part of Mellencamp’s band since 1994 and during the past 18 years he has built up many memories and plenty of camaraderie.

“This is the longest job I’ve ever had,” said York during a phone interview.

York has always had a love for music. He grew up in a household “filled with music.” He said it started with Broadway show tunes and then classical, but things changed when the pop tunes of the ‘60s came along.

York discovered Glen Campbell and said “that’s when I decided to play guitar.”

Having toured extensively with Mellencamp, York said the group is more at ease before a big show. However, the “attitude is still very charged up.

“Putting it out on the line, you want to be ready for it. It’s probably like pro football players before a game. You get psyched up.”

One hour before a show is set to start, York no longer gets nervous. Instead, he is usually laughing at drummer Dane Clark.

“He’s quite the cut-up, he keeps us in stitches before the show.”

Working with Mellencamp is a collaborative experience according to York who said ideas flow freely throughout the group.

“John is open to a lot of ideas and John also has a lot of really great ideas. I think he’s a master arranger.”

The band has learned to “hear what he’s hearing in his head” and can translate it musically with our instruments, added York.

The June 19 show, taking place at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, will feature a variety of great Mellencamp hits.

York said it will start with a rockabilly element, followed by some acoustic and then rock and roll.

“That will burn the house down.”

Canadian audiences have always reacted favourably to Mellencamp’s sound.

“I’d say you guys can scream with the best of them and raise hell with the best of them. We’ve had many fine shows in Canada.”

Playing on tour is something York looks forward to and prefers over recording in the studio. He said a live performance allows you to experience an immediate reaction from the crowd, rather than having to wait weeks or months to get public feedback from a recording session.

Besides, live performances provide some great moments.

“Having a sold-out house and barely being able to hear yourself play because the crowd is screaming.

“That’s the best part. It doesn’t happen every night but when it does it’s magical.”