By Dan Janowsky
Special to The PREVIEW
The High Rollers will perform their Outdoor Concert and Wrestling Benefit July 9 in Town Park. The concert has been an annual Pagosa Springs event for over a decade and, each summer, the crowds get bigger.
The band’s popularity is due to a number of factors, not the least of which is the talent level of each of the musicians on stage. However, the driving force behind it all is singer/songwriter Andy Janowsky.
Like many musicians, Janowsky’s involvement in music and songwriting was evident at an early age. Growing up in western Kansas, 25 miles from school, Andy, his sister, Peggy, and brother Dan (the writer of this article) would amuse themselves and their friends by composing humorous poems and songs about school events and friends to pass the time on long morning and afternoon bus rides.
Likewise, singing and particularly singing in three- or four-part harmony with other family members was both a game and a requirement, as mother Mary Jo Janowsky was usually the music director for the churches pastored by father and the Rev. Phil Janowsky. (Note: Phil Janowsky, in addition to his pastoral ministry, was also a popular performer of music, particularly traditional cowboy music and poetry. Now in his 80s, Phil often joins Andy on stage for a song or two that never fails to “bring the house down.”)
Experiences like these set the foundation for Andy’s later interest in songwriting and arranging as an art. His songs are thoughtful poems that touch common emotions felt by working class, everyday people.
“One Too Many Marshall Tucker Songs,” The High Rollers’ newest CD released this spring, is again all original songs by Andy and includes his usual broad spectrum of topics. The following is an example of his humor and clever lyrical ability from the song, “Broke and Blessed Up” about the contrast between a working class man and his rich “Uncle Buddy.”
“He (Buddy) keeps both eyes on his money,
and a spy on his honey,
knowing they might disappear,
He’s a success, I guess,
but he’s a mess, and lives his life in fear.
But me I come home grinning,
with my bald tires spinning,
Look what greets me at the door,
She’s my small town cutie,
Man that girl gets to me,
I can’t wait for what’s in store.
We’re living check to check,
We’re broke but, what the heck,
All I have to say,
Is I’ll take broke and blessed up
Over rich and messed up any day.”
In part due to the popularity of the original music, The High Rollers are no longer simply a “bar band” or a “wedding band.”
The majority of their bookings throughout the summer are large venues. A sampling of their schedule for this summer includes Country Jam, Alpine Music Festival (Arizona), festivals in France and Spain, Durango’s Fourth of July Street Dance, county fairs (including Archuleta, La Plata, Montrose, Montezuma counties) and opening for a wide range of popular mainstream musicians and bands.
Fans of Andy and The High Rollers know that because of their busy schedule they only play in Pagosa Springs three or four times a year. The outdoor concert in the park is one of their favorite events of the summer and Andy and the band’s contribution to helping raise money for the Pagosa Wrestling Club, coached by his brother Dan. The proceeds are used to fund travel expenses for wrestlers in the club.
The concert in the park is a one-of-a-kind summer event free to the public. Admission is by any donation and the entire event is paid for by donations and through concession purchases. The Pagosa Wrestling Club and The High Rollers would love to see Pagosa come out and enjoy the show July 9 from 7 to 10 p.m. in Town Park.