Andy Stack spent the past few years doing gigs in New York City, staying busy as a session player, doing gigs with various bands, and even working in the orchestra pit for Broadway productions. But he needed something more.
Looking to change things up, he formed Buffalo Stack, which recently released its self-titled debut album.
“I wanted to get a project started where I could write and explore my own voice,” he said. “I had been writing a lot and revisiting my early guitar influences, which were mostly blues and gospel music,” he said. “And, I didn’t have as many responsibilities tugging at my time, so I could focus on being creative. It was amazing.”
Stack and the band are based in upstate New York, which gives them more freedom. It’s also his home territory; he spent the first part of his life in Buffalo (hence the band’s name), and there, he was subject to many musical influences.
“I took lessons from a guy who eventually asked me to play in his band,” he recalled. “So, at 16, I was a working musician, making a hundred bucks a night!” Though he laughingly admits that some gigs today pay about the same, the time he spent in that band proved very valuable.
“I didn’t know who Little Walter was when I learned to play ‘My Babe,’” he said. He also felt the tug of jazzers like Wes Montgomery and George Benson, and today holds a degree in jazz guitar as a result of those influences.
Self-described as “crazy for guitars,” to record the new album, he mostly used a ’67 Guild Starfire V with a Bigsby and a Fender Custom Shop Esquire reissue with a DeArmond Gold Foil pickup. He recently acquired a Kauer Guitars Banshee model from the San-Diego-based builder, and describes it as “a wonderful guitar” that he uses to get a rock sound. Live, he uses others including an old Kay Vanguard and a Teisco. His favored acoustic is a ’65 Gibson J-45.
His amp of choice is a ’72 Fender Princeton Reverb acquired recently at Freedom Guitar, in San Diego. “It’s kind of the working man’s amp in New York City,” he said. “Everyone uses one. I just hadn’t tried one until we were in San Diego.”
For a louder sound, he’ll go to a Fender Vibrolux if needed.
Plans for Buffalo Stack include playing as much as possible.
“The band is sounding great and we all get along really well,” Stack said, whose wife, Tania Elizabeth, plays fiddle in Buffalo Stack and also tours full-time with the Avett Brothers. Her gig helped him during the transition from “studio guy” to songwriter.
“The move coincided with her getting that gig, so a lot of things came together at once. I was kind of spinning my wheels in the city, so it was not very satisfying. Now, I go back on occasion for a producing gig. It all seems to be working out!”
This article originally appeared in VG‘s May 2015 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.