“Candid Americana. Raymond Carver stories played by the Band. The optimism of the Mountain Goats filtered through Stephin Merritt’s worldview. Townes Van Zandt trying to sober up.”
That’s Andy Gallagher, late of Columbus, Ohio, diagramming the ballpark for his San Diego band Trains Across the Sea. Gallagher rolled into his new home in August 2017, and he’s been seeking out musical situations, with or without the Trains, ever since.
“It was my first time in this city,” he and I drove straight to the house in which I now live. The drummer stayed in Columbus and plays piano in a half dozen projects in town. The bassist is building a house in the woods in Pennsylvania. May the hunt for San Diego musicians begin!”
Gallagher went first to Lestat’s West Music, staking out the open mic. Happy Ron Hill took him in, showed him around, and put him to work playing Happy Ron’s “Mr. Rogers Meets South Park” sound.
“The first [San Diego] Trains gig was at Lestat’s when I filled in for a last-minute cancellation,” Gallagher recalls. “Since then, we’ve been playing the fourth Saturdays at Spacebar in La Mesa, played our release show at Lestat’s, and we’re starting working at the Riviera Supper Club. It was exactly as hard to get a gig as it should be.”
The guitarist’s co-founded The Dick & Jane Project with Columbus’ Ben Shinaberry, in 2011. That project seeks out middle-schoolers to write song lyrics, then brings in professional music writers and producers, to finish the songs.
“So many unique moments stand out,” Gallagher enthuses. “We’ve given a Tedx talk. We’ve made parents cry with joy. We’ve watched students described as ‘troubled’ turn in long hours of writing. We’ve held school-wide assemblies where a whole auditorium cheered for student lyricists.
“The most consistently moving moment, however, lives in the moment when students first hear the demo of their song and they go silent, realizing they are personally capable of so much more than they may have originally thought… We’re looking for opportunities to begin running workshops in Southern California.”
- Saturday, November 24, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
7454 University Avenue, Suite A,
Upcoming Trains gigs include October 27, and November 24, both at Spacebar in La Mesa. On bass, Gallagher says, he’s got “Paul Tillery, a Southern Californian gentleman who came up through the jazz scene of the city and is one of the kindest humans I’ve known…. We’re currently looking for drums, pedal steel, and an ASL interpreter, if you know anybody.”