Andy Friedman’s Double Life: High Brow Cartoonist and Hard-Traveling Troubadour 

A mailroom jockey at The New Yorker turned regular art contributor to its pages, the former performance poet discusses his late-blooming and unexpected transition into a full-time life as an illustrator and singer-songwriter on the road.

Date: Monday, October 3, 2011, at 8pm

Venue: Cafe Volan, 510 Bangs Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Host: Marilyn Laverty, president & founder of Shore Fire Media.

Moderator: Matt Dellinger, journalist who has written for The New Yorker, the Atlantic, Smithsonian, and the New York Times.

Admission: $10  All admissions at the door, cash only. No advance sales or reservations.



His humorous portraits of movie stars, musicians, politicians, and literary figures are seen by millions every week in the pages of many of today’s most popular newspapers and magazines, The New Yorker among them, but the songs written by “hard scrabble singer-songwriter” (Time Out New York) and “erudite redneck” (Boston Globe) Andy Friedman aren’t written for laughs. “Friedman has a mastery of wordy self-loathing that many white dudes with guitars would kill for,” says the Nashville Scene.

Friedman’s reputation as a “dusty, paint-splattered Americana sage” (Rochester News & Democrat) germinated with the release of the album Weary Things (City Salvage Records) in 2009, garnering enthusiastic praise, a performance on NPR’s coveted Mountain Stage, a feature interview on Sirius XM’s Bob Edwards Show, and a growing audience.  The online cultural journal Slant hailed Friedman as “an arrival of one of the genre’s smartest and deepest talents.”  His “hard-tack country originals” were described in The New Yorker as “the mark of a true artist,” while No Depression called his songs “unforgettable.”  Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor proffered its title track as a “certified, genuine American tune,” and Indie-icon Sufjan Stevens proclaimed, “I think the world of Andy Friedman. I’ve always wanted to be Andy Friedman.” Largely overlooked, Weary Things was highlighted by the Associated Press alongside records by Tom Waits and Chuck Prophet among what venerable news organization considered The Best Overlooked Albums of 2009.  “Friedman can write a lyric, and he can deliver it,” declared Stephen Wine. “He is not to be overlooked, that’s for sure.”

Friedman first hit the road as a self-described “Slideshow Poet” in 2002, leaving his day job as an office assistant in the Editorial Department at The New Yorker to accompany projections of his paintings, drawings and Polaroids with readings of his poetry in dive bars and rock clubs around the nation.  The hybrid performance was applauded by journalists as “the coolest show to come around in a long time” (Good Times [Santa Cruz]), and introduced Friedman as “The King of Art Country” (City Pages [Minneapolis]).  The transition from traveling poet to rambling musician occurred when the he picked up the guitar and sang for the first time in his life in 2005, shortly before recording his debut album, Taken Man (City Salvage Records), the title track of which landed at #30 on a New York Post “Best Songs” list that included over 200 hits by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Andrew Bird, Amy Winehouse, and The National.

In the spring of 2011, Friedman released his third studio album, Laserbeams And Dreams (City Salvage Records), which was co-produced by noted guitarist and producer David Goodrich (Chris Smither, Peter Mulvey), rising-star upright bassist and composer Stephan Crump (Grammy®-nominated Vijay Iyer Trio, Jim Campilongo), and Friedman.  The album featured only these three players, was cut in 24 hours with a lone overdub and mixed in the studio.  Complementing Friedman’s “art-damaged, ragged-but-right” (L.A. Weekly) approach to music and Goodrich’s restrained, atmospheric lead guitar and piano is Crump’s “full, appealingly wooden sound,” (The New York Times) the interplay of which calls to mind classic collaborations by Van Morrison with bassist Richard Davis on 1968’s Astral Weeks, or John Hartford and Dave Holland on 1972’s Morning Bugle Call — albums also recorded live in the studio without much pre-conceived musical planning.

Also an internationally renown editorial illustrator, Friedman’s ink portraits of cultural luminaries appear in the pages of most popular periodicals, including
The New Yorker—where he has been a regular contributor for over a decade, and where he has also published over a dozen gag cartoons under the pseudonym “Larry Hat”—New York Times, GQ, Rolling Stone, New York, Esquire, and scores of other newspapers and magazines around the globe.


THE NEW YORKER: “Friedman’s songs draw on the deepest traditions of American music and evoke an affecting sense of loss and longing.”

VILLAGE VOICE: “Here’s what happens to twang when it steeps in Brooklyn gin joints instead of Austin honky-tonks: it becomes a bit darker and more gnarled, and though it likes the sun on its back, it can thrive in the shadows.”

THE BLUEGRASS SPECIAL: “Folk songs for our American age. . .If Andy Friedman keeps making records as compelling as Laserbeams and Dreams, his third, being identified as a New Yorker cartoonist will soon become the last mentioned of his accomplishments.”

LA WEEKLY: “A weird, potent strain of art-damaged, ragged-but-right country pathology.” –

NASHVILLE SCENE: “Andy Friedman has a dark, singular sense of humor it serves him well as a cartoonist for the likes of the New Yorker, and it serves him even better as an acerbic singer-songwriter with a world-weary delivery and a talent for synthesizing heartache.”

SUFJAN STEVENS SAYS: “I think the world of Andy Friedman. I’ve always wanted to be Andy Friedman. I want to paint and draw like Andy Friedman. I want to be edgy, sloppy, casual, and good looking. At home, I dress up like Andy Friedman and pose in front of the mirror. I karaoke Andy Friedman. I wear Andy Friedman hats and glasses. I cuss like Andy Friedman. I wear blue jeans and plaid shirts and walk around like Andy Friedman. All the girls want me but I pretend I have a beautiful wife and two kids, like Andy Friedman. On weekends I make a big breakfast for my Andy Friedman family. We go to the park, fly kites, ride bikes, laugh and yell and scream. My life is a glorious Andy Friedman life. Nothing can touch me. I am unstoppable. My imagination is invisible.”


Some more examples of Andy Friedman’s illustrations. . .


Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine covers featuring Andy Friedman’s illustrations. . .