Andyman’s Treehouse rides again (for one week, anyway)

A host of performers who frequented the club will revisit the era this week at Little Rock. Here, in their words, are some favorite memories of the space and of the late John Andrew “Andyman” Davis.
The Electric Grandmother at Andyman's Treehouse
The Electric Grandmother at Andyman's TreehouseCourtesy Mary Alice Hamnett

Columbus music fans can experience a bit of a time warp beginning on Tuesday this week when the late, beloved Andyman’s Treehouse takes over Little Rock in Italian village for six nights of vintage programming (click here for the full slate of performers and events). We asked the performers to share a favorite memory of the Grandview bar and music space. Here, in their own words, is how they remember the club and late co-owner John Andrew “Andyman” Davis.

Sean Gardner (Bookmobile)

I was playing a show with the Kyle Sowashes at the Treehouse sometime in the early 2000s or so. While overindulging on acrobatic tambourine moves and Miller Light, sometime between “My Resume” and “Sharpshooter,”  I puked in my mouth. Still playing tambourine, I danced my way past Tommy, the door guy, so that I could finish puking in the side parking lot, hidden behind a tree. I was kneeled over with my T-shirt pulled up to wipe my mouth when out of nowhere a car pulled in with its headlights pointed right at me. It was Andyman. I heard him say, "What the fuck?" And then I immediately jumped up and ran inside to finish the song. 

Mary Alice Hamnett (The Electric Grandmother)

My favorite memory of Andyman's was our last show in Columbus on May 30, 2011, less than a month before we moved to Washington, D.C. When we were toying with the idea of moving, we prioritized carefully planning a final show as Columbus residents ahead of details like how we would afford a 300 percent rent increase. In reality, we had a six-week lead on moving, which is not remotely enough time to put these kinds of plans in motion.

Luckily, we had an impossibly perfect final show already planned. A complex series of events actually set off by Ben Weasel punching a woman at SXSW in March led us inviting legendary Groovie Ghoulies frontman Kepi Ghoulie and his band to play with us at Andyman's on Memorial Day. We decided to make it a two-band bill (because we didn't want to share Kepi, haha), which gave us the flexibility to play a massive, 90-odd-minute set, cross-cutting the entirety of our 10 wonderful years in Columbus and at Andyman's Treehouse. It was an intense, emotional show that we shared with all of our best friends, all of whom I can't wait to see again this weekend. 

Quinn Fallon (Little Rock owner; former Andyman’s Treehouse co-owner; X-Rated Cowboys)

On the first time he met Andyman

I was at a show at the Newport – I can't remember which band – and a mutual friend introduced us. He was working at some tiny station in Pataskala at the time, and within two minutes of meeting him he boldly stated that he was going to work at CD101 someday. He nailed that.

On the last conversation he had with Andy

In 2010, I was managing a goth club called Outland, which was right around the corner from the station at the time. Andy was friends with the owner, Kathy Capauano, and he stopped in to see both of us the night before he left for his annual family vacation in Michigan.

After selling the Treehouse in June of 2008, I was convinced that I would never own a bar again due to burnout. But that fall, the economy crashed and I felt like I didn't really have any other options. But this time I was hoping to do it completely alone – no partner, no landlord.

Andy knew I was looking, and he said several times that he wanted to be a part of it. As he was leaving Outland, I told him I had found a spot and was going to pursue it, though I eventually passed on that opportunity. Andy repeated that he wanted in, and I said it was time for me to fly solo. As he was walking out, he started laughing, and in that big, booming voice of his he said, "Buddy, I'm gonna wear you down!" Maybe he would have. Who knows? That was the last time I ever saw Andy.

On the time he didn’t keep his arms wide open to an afterhours party

One night in maybe 2003 or ’04, I was bartending at the Treehouse, and I got a call just before midnight. It was the manager of some band I had never heard of, and he wanted to know if they could have an afterhours at the bar that night. I immediately passed. The next day I was talking to Andy on the phone, and I repeated the story to him. He asked who the band was. I said some assholes I had never heard of. It was Creed.

On the early days of Andyman’s Treehouse

Hidden Cove operated for more than 10 years at 887 Chambers Rd. before we turned it into the Treehouse. It had a horrible reputation, and I was warned several times to steer clear of it, but my curiosity got the best of me and I started popping in there. It was a total shithole and every time I stopped in there would be the same five to eight people getting hammered at the bar. It felt very much like a blue-collar joint, and “Free Bird” played every 45 minutes every time I was there. I’m not kidding!

I started to bring some friends in with me, and of course everybody knew Andy, so the owner kind of buddied up to him. The bar had changed hands five times in five years, and it clearly wasn't making enough to cover the bills. One day, the owner told me and Andy that we should buy the bar. I think we discussed it for less than a minute and said yes. We bought the Hidden Cove for 30k!  

On becoming friends with Andy

I met Andy sometime in 1990. I'd see him here and there, but we weren't really buddies or anything. I left 700 High in 1992 to go manage Lucky's on High Street in German Village. Shortly after that, Andy was hired to emcee there on Saturday nights.

At the time, Andy was picking up a lot of promo gigs, and I always worked every weekend. I generally had Monday and Tuesday off, when there was nothing to do, and Andy was in the same boat, so we started meeting up at O’Reilly’s on those nights. There were a lot of beers and pick up Euchre games on those nights, and we’d bond over our mutual obsession with music. We were both also very into movies, sci-fi and comic books. I'll bet we sat through hundreds of movies at Studio 35, and we used to hit the South Drive-In Theater almost every week in the summer. We hung out a ton over seven years before we bought the bar. Owning a business with your best friend is probably not the greatest idea in the world, and there were occasional problems, but our friendship stayed pretty intact.

On the Christmas party that helped spawn a Columbus tradition

Every year, we had debaucherous Christmas parties for the staff at the Treehouse. One year, after eating at Carlo’s, we all ended up at my house on Blake Avenue. Andy had become very fond of our door guy, Joe Peppercorn, and at some point Andy said he wanted to sing some Beatles songs with him. I had a somewhat playable upright piano that someone gave me for free, and Joe had heard the songs enough that he could fake his way through them. And I think this went on for more than an hour. I don't think there is a single picture of the two of them at the piano, which is a shame, but Andy would have been elated to know what that little sing-along would eventually spawn.  

Chuck Oney (The Vague)

I went to Andyman’s Treehouse on my own one night after deciding I needed a new regular place to hang. I sat at the bar and watched a hockey game with a few other folks. Quinn Fallon was the bartender that night, and sensing I was alone, he engaged me in conversation. I felt welcome and decided this was going to be my new hangout place. At that point, they weren’t hosting full-on bands – just acoustic acts who passed around percussion instruments.

Fast forward a few months, and Dan Dougan, the former owner of late, legendary venues Stache’s and Little Brother’s is playing in the back music room with two guys heckling him the whole time, which is pissing Quinn off behind the bar. Eventually, Quinn goes to the back room and tells the drunk guys to cool it, which only makes matters worse. Quinn then comes to me and says, “I gotta kick these two guys out and it may get physical. Will you back me up?” 

I looked Quinn straight in the eyes and said, “Uhhh, I guess so. I’m more of a lover than a fighter!” Quinn replied, “Look, If one of them jumps me from the back, just get them off of me. I will take care of the rest.” We then proceeded to kick those guys out of the bar without much resistance. Quinn told me thanks and bought me a beer, kicking off a fast friendship – to the point that whenever I played there either solo or with the Vague, patrons thought I was his brother!

Kyle Sowash (The Kyle Sowashes)

I played my first show at Andyman's Treehouse in November 2002, opening for the Bygones.  The first thing Quinn Fallon ever said to me was "You guys gotta turn your amps down, you're WAY too fuckin' loud!" We've been good friends ever since!

Playing Andyman's was like playing a show in your grandparents' rec room, but there was a tree growing right through the middle of the room. The place didn’t have the best sightlines (although they were better than the Basement), but it sounded really good there – probably due to all the wood paneling. I brought a lot of touring acts through there as a third-party promoter: Doug Gillard, Bottomless Pit, Eric Bachmann, +/-, Wussy, Adam Franklin, Say Hi to Your Mom, Richard Buckner, Karl Hendricks.

Every once in a while, Quinn didn't really care what you booked back there. One time, in 2005, he was so desperate to book something on an open Thursday that he said, "Do whatever you want back there! I'll give you free beer and $50!" And that's how Chris Worth and I played a whole set of nothing but Air Supply and Crooked Fingers covers!  

Quinn booked the rest of the shows. It was mostly local acts, but occasionally he'd get bigger names to play there. I know Evan Dando, Kyle Gass and Mike Peters played there. I saw Cracker play in that room on time! They didn't even bring their gear in; they just used the Whiles’ setup.

It’s hard to limit myself to a single favorite memory of Andyman's Treehouse.

1) I can still remember that jukebox.  It was really great hearing stuff like Wilco's "Jesus, Etc" and Big Star's "Thirteen" with a PBR in hand and youth on my side.  

2) Getting to play with Bottomless Pit and Karl Hendricks Trio back in 2007 was great. Two of my absolute favorites. 

3) The ’80s proms were always pretty fun!

4) When they did recruit me for door guy duties, I would help do the closing duties at the end of the night (emptying the trash, bringing up cases of beer from the back to restock, etc.) One time, circa 2008, after everyone was gone, Quinn asked if I wanted a beer on the house. He then suggested I try something that was not PBR and gave me something called Stella Artois. It was great! 

5) I booked a lot of people I greatly admire here, and it was always worth it to see the look of weariness on their face when they first arrived give way to a big smile before they left.   

6) I remember one night in 2005, Hot Hot Heat played one of the Promowest venues and Andy brought them back to the Treehouse after their show. A lot of ladies in the bar that night kept trying to touch Steve Bays' hair.  He was squirmin'!  

Anyway, I loved this bar and I'm glad to have been a part of it! But may it be noted that I did feel terrible for any friends with chronic allergies that I subjected to seeing me play there. I’m sure there were a lotta mold spores in that place. You know, due to the tree growing through the roof!

Pete Faust (The Electric Grandmother)

I was trying to pick a favorite memory/story from the heyday of Andyman's Treehouse, but I really can't narrow it down. Whether it be a tale from one of the 47 times our band performed there, watching our friends play, trivia nights, open mic, or just hanging out at the bar, every moment we spent there was important. There were many successes and a few failures, but always "times" had. Quinn Fallon and the rest of staff always made us feel welcome and valued. Whether or not we realized it at the time, it was historical. And I'm proud and honored to have been a part of it. Long live Andy and long live the Treehouse.

Joe Peppercorn (Mrs. Children, The Whiles, Sgt. Peppercorn's Marathon)

It’s hard to emphasize how important and impactful the Treehouse was and continues to be in my life. It is where I learned to bartend. It’s where I met so many of the friends that I still have all these years later. And it is where the Beatles Marathon was formed and first performed. Quinn created an environment where so many different musicians could congregate, commune and create. He would always buy your first beer if you were a band that played there, and he made gigging there both easy and profitable with the streamlined setup. I miss that bar and that environment. I didn’t even have a cell phone back then and it didn’t really matter because you knew you would see your friends and fellow musicians there. I loved that place and that place made so much of my life what it is today. I am stoked to see its spirit live on at Little Rock and I cannot wait to run my open mic night this week.

Patrick Baracus (B.A. Baracus)

Oh, the Andyman's era! To say the majority of my evenings/early morning memories there are slightly foggy would be an understatement. However, there are the occasions that stick out. Whether it was favorite shows we played there (a tie between a post-Comfest gig with Two Cow Garage and a bill we shared with Danger Zone and Dozen Dead Roses, both in 2006) or the best of the hundred-plus shows I saw there. Colin Gawel’s Wednesday residency was seminal in my introduction to the local scene. But my most cherished and everlasting memory will always be Andy's laugh, which echoed out a handful of times on every visit (extra credit if you  were the one who earned the gregarious bellow). I miss him dearly.

Jon Chinn

I spent a lot of time at the Treehouse as a patron and a performer. For me, it encapsulated the best and worst things about being a musician. Some nights, it felt like Columbus’ own Viper Room, while other nights it was just you and the tree.

A residency can feel like work at times – both rewarding and painful. Jerry DeCicca and I held one down there for a few months, playing some nights to a full house and others significantly less so. I learned a lot of important lessons there as a songwriter and performer that I attribute to those highs and lows. I owe a lot to Andyman, Quinn and that f-ing tree.

Colin Gawel

When Quinn and Andy first opened the bar, they invited me to play a solo residency every Wednesday night. I had only sporadically played solo outside of Watershed, so this was way out of my comfort zone and I tried to talk them (and myself) out of it. Of course, you cannot tell Quinn no, and I ended up playing two or even three sets once a week for more than a year. Some nights there was a crowd, but most nights it was me, the tree and a handful of diehard music fans and/or dieharder drinkers.

I probably would have hung out there a lot anyway, but the residency definitely made it my home away from home. The Treehouse inherited the musician clubhouse vibe from Little Brother’s, which had inherited it from Stache’s and Bernie's. Sure, Andy invited all kinds of CD101 touring bands to party, and Quinn was always there, but you could stop in anytime and run into another local musician. 

I remember having my first consequential conversations at the Treehouse with Joe Peppercorn, Brandon Barnett, Patrick Buzzard, Chuck Oney, Sean Woosley, Lydia Loveless and many, many more. The Treehouse’s unique layout and vibe fostered a friendship among Columbus musicians unlike no other club before it or after. Sure, someone might be playing a set in the actual tree room, but most of the time folks were chatting at the bar in the main bar or on the small patio out back. Nobody took offense or felt pressure to watch the acts perform. Folks watched and wandered in and out, but it was a very loose vibe. It was less a listening room than it was a talking room. And the community that was built during those late nights still very much exists to this day. 

A few random memories:

The League Bowlers would play Thanksgiving Eve most years with Andyman joining us on vocals for “Suspicious Minds,” among other songs. 

Watershed played there many times as a stripped-down three-piece, and it was always loose and crazy. Better attended than my solo gigs for sure! We might have taped a show once where we did more than 50 songs or something. I vaguely remember a crushing version of “Magic Bus.”

Watershed also hosted a listening party for our 2002 album The More It Hurts, the More It Works there.

It was all a blur. Did I spend 100 nights there? Or 300? Who knows?

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