Welcome Back, Andy Kim

For music fans, and Canadians in particular, the return of Andy Kim with his recently released EP (Five-song cd) 'I Forgot to Mention' reminds them of what music meant to them when they were young. Often and unfairly classified as 'bubble gum', Kim's repertoire of music is much deeper than a superficial label. People would not react fondly and positively if this were true. When I mentioned the return of Andy Kim to my circle of family and friends, the response was enormously positive.

Featured on the record are Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, Kenny Aronoff, who, as drummer, worked with John Mellencamp and the Smashing Pumpkins, Peter Holesapple of R.E.M., Bob Medici (Lou Reed), Hal Craggin (Iggy Pop) and Timothy B. Schmidt of legendary rock band The Eagles. Jim Goodwin (The Call, Velvet Underground) co-wrote and produced the EP. While the record is getting air play in most markets, including Toronto and New York, Montreal (with the exception of one radio station), ironically, has not jumped at the opportunity at promoting a local musician.

Andy Kim has sold 30 million records during a time when defining Canadian 'music' was elusive. No doubt, Canada's greatest acts had to leave the nest to be with the best and the rest in the 60s and 70s. Legendary acts like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot (who still remains underrated in my mind), The Band, Ronnie Hawkins, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Guess Who and Anne Murray are just some of the artists who found fame in the United States and have since been absorbed under the rock Americana umbrella - though they never forgot their Canadian roots.

Even acts such as Rush and April Wine performed during a time when Canadian roots music was still in its infancy stage. Among Kim's greatest songs, which includes 9 Top 40 singles and a Juno Award, are 'Rock Me Gently', 'Baby, I Love you', and 'Be my Baby.' But Andy Kim's signature song was the rock anthem co-written with Jeff Barry - 'Sugar,Sugar', from cartoon series The Archies. Even if Kim had not made a comeback, his contribution to rock was established. Andy Kim is a pioneer for many Canadian musicians who followed later.

Today, the fruits of all the labour of great Canadian musicians are there for all to see. New performers such as Alanis Morrissette, The Tragically Hip, Cowboy Junkies, Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo and a host of other Canadian bands can now seek, without having to leave the nest, expression and popularity in Canada. With the right combination of luck and marketing, they can also find a receptive and lucrative American audience. Canadian rock has finally found its voice as it confidently takes part in the new global music market. While our musicians operate on a global stage they are now part of Canadiana. Actually, if the 60s had the British invasion, a case can be made, with proper branding, of a modern Canadian invasion.

Momentum is clearly on Andy Kim's side. The reason why Tony Bennett found a new audience was because of the ability of his talent and music to cross and speak to several generations. In Andy Kim, we find the same attributes. Many of the musicians who worked with Kim on his latest records showed up at the recording with 45's for him to sign. Imagine that, great musicians who have left a legacy asked for the autograph of an adventurous artist (he left home for New York City when he was 16) from Montreal.

He may have been under the radar screen for 20 years, but there is a lesson here - if you remain honest and true to your music free of all the shallowness so prevalent today, people will remember and always respect what you have accomplished. It's why Chuck Berry will outlive any manufactured robot littering music today.

Andy Kim, too, has stood the test of time and he has returned. Welcome back, kid!

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