This idea of a collaboration…feeling like we are constantly in competition as musicians…I want to see people succeed.

Andy Hughes

Co-founder, Broken Wrist Records

On this episode, we chat with Andy Hughes of Broken Wrist Records, an entity aiming to promote, book, and manage creative endeavors in a collaborative way. We talk about Tommy Prine, the 3 Rivers Songwriter’s Summit, what’s next for Broken Wrist Records, and where can people find out more.

La Crosse Local is proud sponsor of the La Crosse Winter Roots Festival.
Winter Roots Festival
Andy Hughes 01:27
So it’s myself and my good friend Stacy Hanson. We both been, you know, doing this music scene. We’ve been both a part of the La Crosse music scene for 20 years, you know, out there trying to get our different bands. Stacy was bandleader of a band called Red Sky Warning, a band called Merryweathers. I’ve done my thing with Tugg for a long time and do my solo stuff. He and I have been playing shows or writing songs together for a while and it just sort of increased over the pandemic when we couldn’t play. So actually right before the pandemic February 2020, we had a cabin in Hatfield, Wisconsin, and we went up there with just the idea of like, working on each other songs. You know, having that it’s really cool, I guess, as a songwriter, someone’s trying to write songs because it’s like you get so into your own ideas. Having someone else who like for me, Stacy, I just so respect him as a songwriter. I think he’s one of the best songwriters I’ve heard, let alone in this area. So the idea was just to listen to each other’s songs and see if we can, we could help you know, maybe I was thinking of maybe recording another solo or and he’s thinking I know he had some songs sort of leftover from when Merryweathers ended. And then turn it turned into. We wrote these two songs that weekend that were different for both of us, reliant on harmonies and stuff. And so out of that was this idea of a collaboration. And so that’s really the origin story of Broken Wrist Records is collaboration. It’s feeling like we’re constantly in competition. You know, as musicians with art is such a weird feeling. You know, I really want to see people succeed. There’s so many talented people in this town, Cheech, and I mean I could go on and on. But you do you feel like you’re in competition, you’re trying to compete to get people to shows and you’re, you know, the whole algorithm, the Spotify playlists. And the idea was like, there’s this big stream out there. But we don’t feel like we have access to it sometimes. So maybe if we grouped together, multiple creative people songwriters. So that was really the main idea. And then it sort of sat a little bit dormant as the pandemic sort of grew on and recently got back into it. And we want to put out music together. We want to write music together, and at the same time, started thinking about throwing shows. So the promotion thing in the shows, were really just something that happened. Stacy does a thing every year, before Thanksgiving. So he had that date at Leo and Leonas. And we just started talking about shows. And so a couple shows popped up. So we really, we’ve hit the ground running now. And we feel like we are, again, a collaborative space where we can promote artists shows, you know, if the time comes to put out music or help people put out music, then we’ll do that as well.

Brent Hanifl 04:21
So yeah, I mean, just checking out your site from you know, promoting to booking to managing bands in the area. You also have the Three Rivers Songwriters Summit. How did that project start? Is that kind of to continue that collaborative songwriting component?

Andy Hughes 04:36
Yeah, yeah. And like, you know, for the lineup there. I’m just amazed at every almost everybody said yes, there was a couple people that we wanted to do include that or have other shows, but almost everybody we reached out to said yes. And it’s for me, it’s these it’s a lot of people I look up to. John Smith, Dance Zebronic, Eddie Allen. Guys that have been doing what Stacey and I are trying to do in this region for a long time. And one of the things that we had started to do with our other buddy Brian Bethkey before the pandemic was to do what we call these Nashville North songwriter nights. I go down to Nashville as much as I can. And if you go down there as a songwriter, what you’ll find is that almost all of the shows are in this in the round style. And it’s, you know, so there’s like 12, 15, 20, sometimes writers, and they’re just, they’re throwing them up there three, four, at a time round robin Song, Song Song. It’s an incredible way to sort of see songs and songwriters. I know a few people do it around here. And we had started doing it. But what I had never seen is someone do the entire night like that. So instead of you know, what I’ve seen around here, and I know like Tim does musical chairs, and it’s awesome. I’ve been a part of that. We wanted to see if we could get enough writers where we could have three or four in multiple rounds. And so that was the idea and everybody said yes, so we’re just we’re incredibly excited. And you know that having folks like the Iowans and Anama kind of join who are a group but again, those those harmonies, that’s really something that Stacey and I are trying to focus on with our writing. So we’re drawn to people that already do that well so.

Brent Hanifl 06:16
So also with you know, you trying to develop, you know, I guess book bands with Broken Wrist Records, you have Tommy Prine coming up. What’s the connection there with him as a musician? I know you’re a big fan of his father. But how did that all come about?

Andy Hughes 06:31
I am, I’m just a huge John Prine fan. And to the point where I’m an I’m a pretty big nerd. Little by little over the years, I’ve reached out to his record label if people don’t know, John Prine is one of the people who in the 80s started his own record label. And that’s something I don’t know if it’s talked about a lot. But Oh Boy Records is completely John Prine and his family now. Now it’s run by his wife and his stepson. So I’d reached out over the years and stuff like that, just as a big Prine fan as always, you know, one of the things about booking and promoting and stuff. And I’m sure you know, you send emails to people you probably don’t have any business sending emails to, but they were always really gracious and always wrote back. That’s something to I love about that. And that’s what I’m trying to, what I want to try to do is that no matter how big or small, somebody right reaches out to your entity, you know, responding, so they always did. And so we were talking about really trying to bring somebody in for this Thanksgiving Eve show. And I said, well, you know, I noticed that John Prine’s son Tommy has recently been out touring. And he’s been doing tour packages in this in the south with a lot of the Oh Boy Records people Our Little McKinley and I said, let’s, let’s see if there’s any chance that you know, we could get them. There was one time with Terry Zebronic I remember a couple years ago at Leo and Leonas, sitting up there and being like what a man, how cool would it be if we could get John Prine at Leo and Leonas? You know, and so it was this. I wrote Oh Boy Records, I said, we’re looking at this date. We’re interested in Tommy. And I just sent it to the general Oh Boy Records. And you know, the next week, I had an email from his agent. And we’ve been just going back and forth now. And we were able to get Tommy booked. And he’s really excited. He’s putting out a record of his own. You know, like his Uncle Billy Prine is out there doing the tour right now, John’s songs. And that’s really cool. And I think Tommy’s trying to carve his own place. I can’t, I can’t imagine what it would be like to, you know, to step into the family business when you’re when your dad is a, you know, a legend. But how cool and how, you know, I’m really stoked to sort of see what he does and we were really excited they wrote back. And we weren’t able to get it to for the date that we wanted Thanksgiving. But we were able to get, you know, a date that we could all agree on. And so we just kept it really simple. So it’s going to be Tommy Prine solo acoustic. And then Stacey and I both do opening sets.

Brent Hanifl 08:59
Well, I mean, that show seems like a good start for your company. So what’s next for Broken Wrist Records? What’s you know what’s coming down the line? Or what do you hope you’ll be able to do in the next year or two?

Andy Hughes 09:09
Stacy and I are recording music. And so we’ve got a band that it’s just in the infancy stage. So we’re doing that and that’s that’s going to be a focus for us and putting that out through our, you know, our Broken Wrist Records. And then it looks like we’re interested now in in doing some more shows. So we’ve got some people that we’ve got our eyes on looking into sort of the alternative indie folk scene. You know, there’s a lot of people out there that we would love to bring through this area. We have such a unique place as you know, like it’s four and a half hours in Chicago or three hours from Minneapolis. We’re two hours from Madison. To all these people that are now the tours are opening back up. We do have a really great area. If there’s a break on somebody’s tour, where they come to this area and I think you know people people get surprised because there’s so much there’s so much appreciation for music, original music in La Crosse area that we can have, you know, we can have our those artists come in when they’re in between Madison and Minneapolis and we can put them at Leo and Leonas or the Trempealeau Hotel. And people come out and really support and really love live original music. So that’s what we’re trying to capitalize on that. So we’re looking at a couple March and spring shows. So the I think the winter months will be spent writing and recording some music. But yeah, we’re looking forward to doing more shows and trying to bring in some artists that maybe haven’t ever been to this area. I know from, you know, looking out on social media and people I know that listen to similar music. I know that there’s there’s people that aren’t necessarily making stops in La Crosse, but are starting to get close. And I think that there’s a market for that. And so we want to we want to try to bring those you know, there’s definitely a right now there’s a singer songwriter folk kind of feel to it, but we want to go into it to everywhere, obviously. Tugg is a reggae rock ska, Merryweathers is sort of a harder sort of rock and roll band. We’ve got other friends in the area that do things like hip hop. So I think one of the other things that we’ve decided is that we’re not going to pigeonhole ourselves into any, any genre. And so for now, it’s just, we want to help ourselves, help our friends, make some music. And the thought is that if we collaborate enough, and have that sort of shared, because we’re all we’re all trying to do the same thing, you know, and I like I said, I want my friends to be successful. And I think they want us to be successful. So you know, an army of, of some of us versus an army of one, I think that’s how it feels when you’re out there booking yourself, managing yourself and known for 20 years, you just feel like an army of one. You’re just sending messages and piping yourself up and writing bios and booking shows, it can get overwhelming and sort of like you get 90% of your emails are on unresponded to it just so it just helps to sort of like, collaborate with people and be like, this is stressful or this is overwhelming. So maybe we’ll work on this together. If I’m emailing somebody about a show, and I can bring up a friend that matches better. I let’s do that, you know.

Brent Hanifl 12:17
So you kind of reference it Tugg you know, the various bands. Actually Tugg will be playing at a festival that we’re kind of promoting, La Crosse Winter Roots Fest at the beginning of the year. Glad to have you. But what’s it been like getting back into playing live shows?

Andy Hughes 12:32
I can’t even put it into words. Since May, this is just me personally, it’s almost hard to talk about how amazing it’s been. Yeah, I mean, Tugg started out really strong in the in the spring summer. And I’ve just, you know, we get to play really cool shows Moon Tunes, and reggae fests and all this stuff, there was just a different energy, there’s a different energy between us as a band, there’s a different energy between the people. Just you could just see it on all of our faces, you could feel it. This like the missing that what was really missed with live music, we all set it, we were all saying like, oh, we want concerts back up. But then when we’re starting to do it, it was just incredible. I know, there were songs over the years Tuggs been together a long time, we have lots of songs, and we, you know, there’s certain songs, you know, you really call this song again. And then you know, we got to this this spring and it was like, I love this song. You know, it was just it was you don’t know what you have until it’s ripped from you. And so I think artists were sensitive and emotional because we put our songs and emotions into songs. And in honestly, I’ve been through for me, I mean, even this last month has been incredibly busy. We’ve had this great last push of weather, you know, so been doing as many outdoor shows as I can. And it’s just been awesome. I’m riding it until I until I can till some of the snow starts flying and then we’ll see what we do.

Brent Hanifl 13:59
So if people want to follow along with Broken Wrist Records, what’s the best avenue for them to go to?

Andy Hughes 14:04
So we’re on we have our website now and then we’re on Facebook. We’re going to develop out some other sites, Instagram is going to be one for sure. And then there’s just some other you know, some other new stuff that we’ll get to but for now probably the website and Facebook, and the Instagram will be rolling out here so that’s probably the best way.

Amy Gabay 14:28
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