Concord musician embarks on RPM Challenge

  • Christine Mitchell’s illustration for the cover art of “Ursa Verde.” Courtesy

  • Andrew Grosvenor performs at Radio Bean in Burlington, Vt. Courtesy of Luke Awtry

  • Andrew Grosvenor performs at True Brew in Concord. —Courtesy

Monitor staff
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

One month. One album. It may be a lot of work, but why not?

In November, writers have National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Beginning in 2005, The Wire in Portsmouth proposed the RPM Challenge for February, which was already Album Writing Month. Musicians have 28 days to come up with either 10 songs or 35 minutes of music with cover art.

Andrew Grosvenor, 34, of Concord just discovered the challenge this year and decided to take up the challenge; just one of the hundreds of people to do so.

“I had a lot of half-baked ideas floating around for a while,” he said.

Grosvenor said he created a list of those ideas and then began laying tracks in his basement. Now, he has a full album called Ursa Verde.

“I expected it to be a throwaway,” he said.

Grosvenor said he focused on the lyrics, aiming to write songs that were emotionally vulnerable.

He got better at mixing and recording as he went along.

Grosvenor, who sings and plays piano, taught himself to play electric bass to accompany himself for a more natural sound.

“I had to keep it all under my control,” he said.

“Everything crystallized in the last week or so,” Grosvenor said Friday afternoon.

His friend, Christine Mitchell, illustrated the cover art for Ursa Verde.

He plans to release the album in late May or early June after some studio friends remaster it.

Grosvenor has a long musical past but had stepped away from music-making until recently.

His mother, Terry Grosvenor, is a musician known for her children’s albums. His father is a gadget fiend who helped create a recording studio for her. His Rhode Island childhood home had a baby grand piano. He took piano lessons from third-grade through high school.

“It stuck,” he said.

While attending a prep school, he was a member of Wyc, a band named after the dorm building where band members lived, Grosvenor said. It was a pretty typical classic rock/jam band and the group put on an hour show of original material at the end of their project.

In college, he formed a new band that was unnamed for a while then crystallized to be called The Woodshed. It was then Grosvenor said he started writing his own music. The band moved to New York City for a while, then to Burlington, Vt.

“There’s a really vibrant music scene up there,” Grosvenor said.

In 2007, The Woodshed broke up after one member stayed in New York and another left for law school.

Grosvenor also went to law school and took a break from music.

It wasn’t until his son was born two years ago that he said he started to think about what he wanted from life. He knew he needed a music project again.

“It’s crazy how long I took off,” he said. “Ten years had gotten away from me and it was time to start doing it again.

Grosvenor, a lawyer by day, now performs under the name Andrew of the North.

He restarted by playing an open mic at True Brew to an almost empty house. Over time, he’s worked up enough material to perform solo shows. He plays regularly at Radio Bean in Burlington, Vt., when he has to work at his law firm’s main office, and closer to home at True Brew and Area 23.

Grosvenor’s son has helped his music in other ways, too, aside from just getting back into performing.

His is “obsessed” with Mr. Aaron (Jones) of Rattlebox Studio. That connection has been a resource for Grosvenor to meet other people in the local music scene.

Grosvenor said that it’s been nice to see Concord have a few venues take form as places for music.

“Concord is always trying to shake the image as … the ‘city in a coma,’ ” he said.

Andrew of the North has plans to perform in New Hampshire on Sunday at True Brew, April 14 at Area 23 and June 15 at Area 23. You can also check latest events at andrewofthenorth.com.