I grew up out in the deserts of Arizona, only a short one hour drive from the border of Mexico. Instead of lakes and beautiful hill country landscapes to explore, we had looming mountains and dusty, cacti filled lands. While Austin is certainly my favorite place I’ve yet to call home, I will say there are, surprisingly, many things I miss about Arizona. The lands dotted with Native American reservations, old deserted mining towns, and beauty of the Grand Canyon and unique outdoor opportunities gives Arizona a special charm that other states can’t offer.
Country music often accompanied my family on our many road trips between our desert home and our cabin in the beautiful, Northern Arizona Mountains. While my dad never strayed from imprinting Johnny Cash, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, and the likes into my brain from an early age, there were some country artists specific to the Sonoran lands we lived in that joined us on the road trips every time. Andy Hersey being one artist that really stuck with me even long after I’d last heard his voice playing through the car speakers.
Andy Hersey only ever released two albums, Compañero Blanco in 2002, and Between God and Country in 2007. The songs from his first album were probably repeated over one hundred times in our car on the road between Tucson and Prescott. My dad had really taken a liking to Andy Hersey when he was introduced to his music after seeing him perform with another Sonoran-cowboy-rock-sounding band, Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers. My family had trucked down to Rocky Point, Mexico, back when it was safe enough to hop in the car for a weekend trip across the border, and rent a little beach house to go see Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers play on the sandy shores. These Arizona-based country-rock bands all had something in common that my dad loved: they sang songs that incorporated the Mexican influences in Arizona with being somewhat of an urban cowboy. It was a nice mix of Americana style with Mexico references. Arizona folk loved that, since Mexico was a big part of everyone’s lives, living so close to it and what not. Just like Texans love when Country artists relate to the great lands of Texas, Arizonans loved a good band that sang of those desert lands. Andy Hersey, with a voice similar to Uncle Lucius, pulled off that Arizona desert charm well.
Hersey sings of Mexico, working the lands, cowboys, and love. His hit, “Compañero Blanco”, speaks of a cowboy and a Mexican ranch hand that shared a special friendship, despite their language barrier. My personal favorite, “(Next Time) A Diamond Won’t Cut It” tells the story of a woman who fell in love with a man that never truly gave her his heart, but rather thought he could buy her things in exchange for his cold heart. Hersey’s songs often tell stories, just like many of our favorite country songs. He incorporates beautifully played acoustic guitar tunes into most of his songs and has a smooth voice that must’ve been overlooked.
I’m sure not many country fans out here in Texas, if any, have even heard of Andy Hersey. Maybe I have a bias for him since I listened to him for years, even though he only produced two albums so far. However, I will stand by my opinion that I believe Hersey’s talent could still make it far in the country music industry. He made a name for himself amongst the Arizona country fans, and if he continues writing the types of songs he has been, and steps outside the Arizona borders more often, I’m sure country fans all over the nation will have a sweet spot for Hersey’s sound.