“I’m tired of this every-man-for-himself mentality,” musician Andrew Tufano, 20, declares in his song “Every Man For Himself” off of his new record “Fireworks in Autumn”. As tired as Tufano may be of society’s mindset, he isn’t about to let it get the best of him.
A completely independent artist, Tufano has no booking agent, no manager, and no record deal from a big-shot label. However, earlier this month, Tufano kicked off a cross-country summer tour in Richmond, Virginia. Between June and August, he’ll travel 12,000 miles and stop in over 40 cities. Given the distance he’s going, though, Tufano has packed light. Everything he needs fits in his orange Nisson Xterra.
“My whole life is in that car right now… and surprisingly, I can still see out the back window,” says Tufano, who performs with a loop pedal instead of a full band.
Recently, Tufano played a show at the Paint Corner Art Bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The venue is designed for groups of friends, families and coworkers to enjoy instructed painting together, but was turned into a charity concert benefiting the Friends of the Tobin School on Tuesday, June 16.
The intimate show featured Tufano with opener Callie Shea Sullivan. The stage, which was built to fit one art instructor and an easel, was barely big enough for Tufano and his accompaniment for the evening, fiddler Seamus Guy. Yet, any awkwardness regarding the setup was quickly diffused by Tufano’s ability to connect with his audience.
He easily adapted, understanding that the small crowd there to see him was somewhere between fans at a traditional show and locals that had wandered into a bar where he happened to be playing. He balanced songs that required audience participation with softer pieces that drifted in the background as everyone chatted.
As the end of Tufano’s performance neared, conversations had dispersed and most eyes were on him, captivated by the simple passion the singer-songwriter brought to that little stage. In the middle of a mostly seated area, a couple swayed to his music as though no one was watching.
The Paint Corner Art Bar was not the original venue Tufano had arranged for his Boston stop, but when that booking fell through, Tufano’s natural networking abilities and a little bit of luck came to his rescue.
“I met a guy while I was playing in a hotel for money in Nashville…he was doing business in [the city]. He organized this show, and I’m crashing with his family tonight,” Tufano says, emphasizing that on his tour, every night is different.
“The schedule each day has been wake up, do something touristy in the city, get some local food, drive, play a show, crash on a different couch every single night… For New York [our place to stay] fell through a few days before, and I just tweeted, ‘Hey, does anyone have a couch in New York?’ and this kid that I played a show with like two years ago was like, ‘Yeah!’…Every night it’s a different story.”
At the time of the Boston show, he’d been on the road for seven days and played in five different cities. His constant companion on the tour is his girlfriend, Maura Mazurowski. “We started dating after we planned this. It started out strictly business, she’s doing photography and merch, helping out with press, and a little bit of everything. And it’s just nice not to travel alone,” he says of Mazurowski, who he was close friends with in high school.
“It is for sure [making the relationship move a little faster] than I expected. Not only are we together 24/7, but each day is an entirely new experience. I kind of realized that on my last tour, that time feels like it moves slower, because so much is packed into a tiny amount of time. So we’ve been on the road for about a week. It feels like at least a month for sure,” Tufano pauses to do some quick math. “If one week is equivalent to a month I guess, then at the end of [the three month tour], it’ll be like we’ve been together for a year.”
But for Tufano, the long days and unpredictability that comes with new cities every night is worth it for the album. “The last EP I put out was 2013; I wrote most of those songs as a senior in high school, and these songs are all written post-high school… The content [of Fireworks in Autumn] is similar [to my previous records], but I think that the perspective that I’m coming from is a little more mature.”
Tufano has spent the last couple years at Belmont University, but plans to pause his higher education to pursue his dream career. “The plan right now is to go all-in music for a few years, and see if this is something I can do for a living, and if it’s not, then I’ll just go back to school,” Tufano says, quickly proving he has no intention of slacking off during those years. “They say you’re supposed to hit each city once every three months. If you really want to build a fan base, that’s the way to do it. So I will be coming back through Boston, most likely in mid-September.”
“Fireworks in Autumn” will be released in fall 2015. Until then, there are exclusive copies available at Tufano’s performances. Check out Tufano below: