Home is where the art is for Port Jefferson musician
by Nicole Cotroneo, North Shore Sun

PORT JEFFERSON–What’s missing in much of today’s music is found in Andrew Fortier’s songs. While hip-hop stars sing about bling-blinging and pop stars about “getting dirty” (ask Christina Aguilera), the Port Jefferson singer brings his audience to a place everyone can relate to: home.

There will be no flashy background dancers Saturday night when Mr. Fortier takes the microphone at Griswold CafÉ at Theatre Three, located at 412 Main St. in Port Jefferson. “I can get my point across with just me and my guitar,” the singer said.

Andrew Fortier, Port Jeff’s Musical Storyteller
by Kristin Goble, The Village Times Herald

There is a ledge, about 10 inches deep that runs around the inside of a local barn. It’s filled with a collection of Tonka cars and trucks. The Tonkas are just one of the collections Andrew Fortier has acquired over his years of touring on the road. At one time he collected old radios. He said he would just start finding them until he got sick of collecting them or it became too expensive, then move on.

The remainder of the barn is not the kind of place to house sheep or horses — instead it has been turned into a room filled with a few guitars and an old wooden grand piano. It is here that Fortier makes his music. But, he said that while he loves playing the guitar and piano, “my main music is my voice.”

The barn sits between his purple house in Port Jefferson (a house he built) and his 1938, 42-foot cabin cruiser dry-docked in the rear of his yard (another place where Fortier writes his music). There’s a twist to his music. Instead of making music in a recording studio, he actually recorded his latest album, Come On Home, in the boat. He said that the boat has really served its purpose — both as a recording studio and a house. Before marrying his wife, Melanie, Fortier, who turns 40 this month, found himself living on his boat in a dry dock for about eight years. As an artist, he couldn’t afford an apartment, besides you aren’t allowed to make a lot of noise in an apartment. “In a boat you can make plenty of noise.”

Sometimes he’ll write songs quickly — “Boom, like that.” At other times, it make take a month. He splits his time between carpentry, his other love, and music, so one takes his mind off the other. “Life is all about a good balance,” he said. Fortier’s music is unique. In his music he explains every day occurrences and special periods of his life in a storytelling type of way — themes that people can relate to.

Fortier explained that his concerts are also different. “It’s a night of storytelling and a lot of laughs,” he said. “Every night is different, it depends on the mood.” Recent concerts were at the Brush Barn in Smithtown and the Hard Luck Café in Huntington. Concert evenings are set in a relaxed atmosphere. He tells the audience a bit about how each song came about, performs the song and then there is a bit of discussion afterwards. He said it was always interesting to discover the type of audience he’ll be playing to as it always varies. At the Brush Barn the weather had been miserably dreary, and the audience was quieter than normal. Other times there can be heaps and heaps of dialogue and a very loud crowd. Sometimes he even finds himself casually sitting, talking with members of the audience long after the concert is over. He said he loved performing for people live as people remember live performances. You don’t get the same feeling playing the CD of a Broadway show for example, as you did at the actual performance. “Live is live, it’s the moment … there’s nothing like it.”

Knowing that people relate to his music is something he finds special. One of his beautifully crafted songs is The Simple Things from his CD Come On Home. It starts, “I’ll tell you a story of a rainy day, the sky was crying, the weatherman said. Tears will be falling for the rest of the night, but comes tomorrow count on sunshine. Early in the morning he didn’t lie. I was greeted by my baby’s smile. She can pull you out of your darkest day, send all your worries, sends them away. It’s the simple things that warm the heart, It’s the simple things that brought us this far. Sunflowers in the garden, sawdust in the barn, it’s the simple things and you in my arms.”

Where did he get his love for music? His father was a musician who played the piano. “I was surrounded by music since I was a little boy.” In addition to his father, he was inspired hearing the neighboring teenagers strum a few notes. His love of carpentry goes way back, too. He was five years old when he had a saw and hammer. “So, I’ve always known what I wanted to do. I just love to do all creative things.”

He was 27 when he got his first big break. That was when he got his first major recording contract with an A & R representative, who had discovered Tracy Chapman and Michelle Schocked. The album before Come On Home was Early Mid Life Crisis and was made in 1993. During the long gap between albums Fortier wasn’t relaxing. He was busy marrying his wife Melanie, having two children and building their home.

His house is just as interesting as is his barn and boat. He bought it as a one-story cottage about eight years ago and built up and renovated the entire house himself. Each room has a different character. Children Andie Juliette, six, and Cole, two, even have their own tree house in the house. It literally looks like a tree and has the texture of a tree.

Besides doing local concerts, Fortier tours around America. He recently did a tour in his 1966 Chevy to Florida and back. The Chevy has been across the country many times. “To California and back. To Nashville and back. To San Francisco and back.” He’s coming to the conclusion that perhaps his Chevy touring days are numbered, however.

Does the rest of his life include music? Absolutely. “My feeling is I will always be writing and recording songs … What gives me the greatest happiness is my family and music.” Returning to his barn, to show me one example of his “live” music. Fortier opens up an old General Electric fridge that resembles a jukebox. It’s not filled with food but instead with books and folders. He uses his furniture creatively.

As for those Tonka trucks, he said when his children come into the barn, he takes them down for them to play with. “I think that’s my favorite part about it.” He’s now into collecting memorabilia from Niagara Falls, where his parents were married. Collecting this time was for pure nostalgia.

Fortier will be performing on Saturday, June 28 at 8 pm at the Griswold Café in Theatre Three, Port Jefferson. Tickets are $20. People are advised to buy tickets in advance. Call the Theatre Three box office at 928-9200. For more information, go to www.Andrewfortier.com.

“…every song is a warm, sincere story…one you need to hear over and over…Andrew has a way of taking you through a journey in life…one that’s sweet and also bittersweet…he’s got the gift of musical storytelling.”

Steve Harper, WBLI Radio

I find few singer/songwriters that write convincingly from a state of contentment. Andrew Fortier’s invitation to Come On Home makes me want to drop everything and get on the next bus. This is a warm and loving recording clearly coming from Andy’s heart.

Jim Dexter, WUSB Morning Show, Stony Brook, NY

Listen to this record. The whole thing… Journey from edge to edge of this brilliant piece of work. I guarantee you won’t get throught it without a lot of thoughtful smiles, and choking back a few tears.

Why? This amazing young artist humbly and honestly tells heartfelt stories of the ‘everyman’… You, and me…

Fittingly, it’s simple, it’s not slick or over-produced. He speaks in plain yet eloquent terms of life’s ups and downs from his own experience. His life has no0t been easy, but he has drawn from its beauty and pain, to write beautifully crafted stories that squarely touch the heart and mind.

This album was recorded on a boat dry docked in his own back yard, and restored with his own carpenter’s hands. He worked one day a week at night and sometimes on the weekends to create this record. He financed it himself for the love of his art…

I know that Genius is difficult to describe or even recognize, but I think you know it when you hear it… I’ve heard it on this record.

The poet, the carpenter, the Everyman… and the simple genius of Andrew Fortier. Listen to it!!

Pat Hand, CEO
International Entertainment Partners Group

Andrew's Latest Album

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