Andy Timko is living on the edge.
The McDonald, Ohio, singer-songwriter is working hard to expand his fan base in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and into Maryland and Delaware. He’s been to Nashville, but when the 27-year-old makes his move, he wants to be Nashville ready.
“Every single night I’m out playing I’m trying to answer that question,” Timko said in a late-night phone interview from home. “We feel that pull there. We’ll go down and write with people and play here and play there. It’s definitely a major possibility.”
For now, his focus is getting his music out to as many people as he can.
Timko will play an acoustic set from 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 21, at Barley and Hops Grill & Microbrewery, 5473 Urbana Pike, Frederick. The set will feature covers of artists such as Brantley Gilbert, Jason Aldean and Eric Church, and some of Timko’s original songs including the title track from his debut CD “Carolina” and the current single “Sweet Tea.”
“[‘Sweet Tea’] is sort of based on regional differences of writing country music,” Timko said. A lot of country songs are written about life in the South. “Sweet Tea” is written from the perspective of a southern girl who comes to live in the Ohio region “and gets interested in a guy here. She asks him about all the things that are important to her” … “if you like sweet tea, if you like porch swings, if you like sunsets … then you could be my man.” It’s a refreshing twist on boy meets girl.
Timko is a self-taught guitarist and he said that also helped him in writing music. Playing guitar for his sister’s shows, Katianne Timko, a singer-songwriter and producer, opened the door for him to step up to the mic as a vocalist. Once he discovered his sound, performing and songwriting became his passion.
His vocals are raw, edgy, like Brantley Gilbert, Jason Aldean or Eric Church (he’s inspired by all three). “When I first started, [Gilbert] was one of the guys I used to listen to,” Timko said. “I knew I couldn’t sing the traditional country sound. I found my sound in that rough voice, southern rock, high-energy rock ‘n’ roll.”
Timko plays about 150 shows a year, most of them acoustic and about a third of them are with his band: Aaron Sensabaugh, lead guitar, vocals; Paul Haller, bass, vocals; Marino November, drums; and Jack Breegle, guitar.
“The acoustic stuff is a little different, it changes how the sound feels,” Timko said. “I personally like going out and playing acoustic, I like getting closer to the people and seeing them locked in on a song … especially when you’re doing your own songs people connect with you. With the full band, it’s more of a party atmosphere.”
Timko and his band have opened for numerous artists, including A Thousand Horses and Dustin Lynch. When he opened for A Thousand Horses, their song “Smoke” was at No. 1, and Timko said watching the band connect with the fans and the fans locked in on their song was like magic.
“I watched the place lock in and light up on every word, every chorus. When you see that, it affects you and keeps you going,” Timko said. “That ability to connect with people, that’s how you get the success and to the place they are.”
Timko’s focus is on building his fan base and recording another EP with an acoustic sound. “I play the acoustic shows so much and selling CDs of the studio album, but it’s different than the show they just saw,” he said.
In his Barley and Hops set, Timko will “cover the board” of what people are listening to, Hank Williams Jr. Brantley Gilbert, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley and other country artists. “The songs I tend to cover are the best songs that have substance that inspired me.” The country song that hooked him: Blake Shelton’s “Austin.” And he will play original music, “Carolina,” Sweet Tea,” “Carry Me” among them.
“If someone doesn’t know country music, I’ve been told they can’t distinguish which songs are mine and which aren’t. It’s special to hear that.”