Andre Jefferson playing guitar enthusiastically.

Local Artist: Andre Jefferson


First, let me say that if there were more people like Andre Jefferson in the Salt Lake music scene, we would have a whole lot more to talk about. I won’t get into that now—that’s another story. 

Talking to Jefferson is a little frustrating if you’ve seen him play. If you haven’t, you’d think he was an average Joe guitar player. He doesn’t talk about how good he is. He doesn’t act like he can burn up a song with furious intensity—but I’ve seen him play. Several times. I know better. Jefferson will kick your ass just by playing in front of you. If you watch guitarists, watch him anyway. It’ll give you a new outlook on the instrument.

If it sounds like I love this guy it’s because I do. He is an exemplary player with the perfect mix of attitude, modesty and passion. He’s been playing for 20 years, ever since he stole his brother’s bass as a kid. He also played trumpet (which was no help on the guitar) and sang in the church chorus like his father. A native of Baltimore, Jefferson moved here in 1977 and has been turning heads ever since in bands like Prodigal of Smiles and his current bands Mind at Large and Shadowplay. He obviously likes to stay busy—two bands and a day gig as a computer wiz at the University of Utah is enough for anybody—but he takes it all smiling, laid back and in control. Like I said, he’s not a big talker, but he still makes his presence known in another way as the kind, gentle guitar stud. 

His early influences were Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix. He also has a thing for Lightnin’ Hopkins, but I had to drag it out of him. Jefferson never got into the scale of monsters like Yngwie Malmsteen (thank God) and never took lessons. “I just make shit up as I go along. Half of the time I don’t know what I’m doing.” Hard to believe, but easy to understand. Just look at his setup: an old Kramer Strat, piece-of-shit broken down Peavey and speakers held together with duct tape. “I never bothered to take chops off records, I just played along and made up my own shit.” And when he’s writing? “I just get a stupid idea and jam on it until it becomes a song.” 

He does feel strongly about Salt Lake music, though. “This scene needs a kick in the ass. There’s lots of good musicians, but not that many good bands. Too many people stuck in the flannel age,” he says. “The kick needs to come from musicians and club owners. We need more club owners with a sense of what is going on and [to] stop being so greedy. Being a musician ain’t cheap and it takes a lot of work besides.” I couldn’t agree more. So go see him work wonders with Shadowplay or Mind at Large. You will be impressed. That is, unless you’re just stupid. You can even go up and talk to him, but don’t expect him to tell you how good he is, because it won’t happen. –Madd Maxx 

Read more from Issue 71 here.