April 12, 2021 - CAN YOU TAKE THIS HEARTACHE OFF ME Music Video Released
Andrew wrote this song just before his 6th open-heart operation, now more than 10 years ago. Yes, that is correct: six open-heart operations. Born without a pulmonary valve (pulmonary atresia), Andrew has undergone six operations by age 25 to correct this disorder. By the mid-80s, heart operations were more common. As a matter of fact, the first heart transplant performed in Georgia occurred the year Andrew was born - 1985. However, congenital heart defects were still being researched. One reason for Andrew's many operations was that his first three were conducted in 36 straight hours to place a BT shunt. The shunt clotted following the first two operations until the surgeon used a shunt size for a 3-month old baby. This time it worked. Since then, Andrew has in its a place a real heart valve. The only treatment now is to monitor the condition of the valve and replace it when necessary.
"There's no way I can write a song to convey the details of these operations, so I thought I'd just make fun of it. What else can you do?" says Andrew. He dedicated the video to his pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Jane Todd, who passed away in August of 2020. She was the first to see him off the helicopter at Egleston through his 21st birthday. "She was so kind, caring, smart and intuitive. She gave reassurance, not just instruction. She was writing the book as we lived." The millenium marked the first time where children with Congenital Heart Disease outnumbered adults.
Though the song was written to Dr. Brian Kogon, Andrew already has a newer valve replaced by interventional cardiologist Dr. Vasillus Barbaliaros. A heart valve made by hand from bovine tissue is sewed on to a stent. It is then placed into position with catheters through your femoral arteries. Andrew qualified for this new technique and valve for the FDA to receive more data on its pulmonary position. This less invasive procedure will eliminate many heart operations for children born today with the same condition.
May 9, 2020 - TENNESSEE Music Video Released
A fitting music video for Mother's Day weekend. A singer writes a letter to his mom before leaving for Tennessee to chase a dream in country music. The song takes an all too familar spin as the singer stops by the grave of Hank Williams along the way. Tennessee is the 15th music video from Runaway Cotton Records. The video has three main features: A trip to Hank William's grave, a 1971 GMC pick up truck and "Lazy Len" Robinson's voice on radio.
Andrew says, "I knew I could not ask Riley (video producer) to go to Alabama. It's just too far. I had to give a pecan presentation at a national meeting in Louisiana. I took my wife and we came back through Montgomery. I had a stabilizer for my phone, so we took it out there and filmed the shots at Hank's grave. The shots looks great for amateur. The storm in the background played into the video so well. We stayed in Montgomery for the weekend to see all of Hank's stuff."
The video also features a 1971 GMC pickup truck, owned by Andrew's father-in-law. Andrew shifts with three speed on the column as he drives in downtown Eastman, through the graveyard and a few country roads in Dodge County, GA. "I love his truck. We actually took pictures of me on this truck a few years ago for some promotion material. This truck was perfect for the video as we wanted to take people back in time."
Perhaps the greatest surprise is hearing Len Robinson of WPAX and WTUF of Thomasville, GA on the radio. "Lazy Len" has been generous to Andrew over the years allowing him radio time for his South Georgia Pine Ag Update and to play his latest songs. "I remember like yesterday the first night I moved to Thomasville. I found 106.3 on the radio station and fell in love with the station as they played traditional country music. Everyone at work told me about "Lazy Len" and how he built that station. A few years later, he called me and asked if I would like to do a radio program for my farmers. I was elated to meet him. It means alot for me to have him on this song."
April 27, 2020 - Talkin' Song I Don't Want to get the Virus Blues
While waiting on the final touches for the "Tennessee" music video debut, Andrew recorded a new song while in quarantine. Co-writer and colleague, Dr. Glen Harris of UGA Extension offered Andrew the hook to this song. Posting on facebook Andrew wrote, "Stay safe everyone!"
March 26, 2020 - TENNESSEE Released as New Single
Written when Andrew was in college, inspired by the greatest country singer of all time, produced with the purest sound of country music, Tennessee is released as the first single from Andrew Sawyer for 2020. This song is a sweet ballad of a man leaving home carrying only a note from his mother and a guitar. He stops in Montgomery, Alabama to pay respect to the one who defined country music. Producer Gary DiBennedetto is the mastermind behind the sound and tone heard in this song. Gary composed the most gentle ballad you will ever hear from a fiddle echoed with a ghostly steel guitar as Andrew looks on Hank's grave.
"I love this song for a few reasons. One, of course, is the story and it being about Hank. As a child, I was taught that his name was not Hank Williams 'Senior' but just Hank Williams. He is the REAL Hank Williams. This song means alot because I wrote the original song in 2009 while in college. I was immature in writing songs but new the chorus to this song was good. Everyone who heard it loved it. As I got better at writing, I re-wrote the verses to tell a more complete story. Originally it had 3 verses. But the chorus is still the same. I've written worse songs since this, and that is why I love it so much."
To listen to the song, click the media player at the bottom of Andrew's website.
February 14, 2020 - Andrew Plants Pecans for Legendary UGA Coach Vince Dooley
Vince Dooley, 1980 National Championship winning head coach for the Georgia Bulldogs, is now on the list of Georgia's pecan producers with the help of Andrew. While working as Area Pecan Agent for Southeast Georgia, Andrew was needed to help deliver and plant pecan trees for Coach Dooley and his son-in-law Desry. The Georgia Pecan Grower's Association Director Samantha McLeod made contact with Coach Dooley, an avid gardener since retiring from coaching, about planting a pecan tree. Former UGA Coach said he would love to plant one if she would bring him one. That is where Andrew came in.
Slated to pick up the trees from Clough Nursery in Blackshear, Andrew brought with him the patented, Excel cultivar discovered on the Clough farm years ago. A seedling with a large nut and good quality, it has remarkable resistance to scab - the dreaded disease of pecans. Thus making it a suitable cultivar for Coach and Desry.
Members of the GPGA helped dig holes and prep trees. Andrew showed everyone how the roots should be pruned and trees planted. Then Coach Dooley took the opportunity to chop some roots himself and prune back the remaining stalk. The day ended with Mrs. Barbara Dooley fixing chili for the tree planters followed by Coach giving a tour of his UGA memorabilia.
When asked about the experience, Andrew commented about an award Coach Dooley received from the Florida Gators representing his coaching in the rivalry, "I was taught early that beating Florida was the most important thing Georgia could do each season - even greater than winning a National Championship. I have not missed a GA-FL game in Jacksonville sine 1997. I acknowledged this award and told him the same thing and said, 'Coach, your record there was real good.' And he replied, 'Well, I lost many games there as well.' He was being humble, but he took the GA-FL game serious and was successful in that rivalry. I appreciated the respect they showed him by giving him this plaque in 2003."
November 7, 2019 - JIM BEAM ME UP Music Video Released
The 14th music video released from Runaway Cotton Records, Jim Beam Me Up becomes a big hit on facebook. Filmed in Barwick, GA, the video stars Ashleigh Childs and JT Wynn as well as Billiards Bar N Grill's infamous, "One Beer Bob" Coleman. The setting was perfect for a traditional band shot featuring five additional players almost all wearing cowboy hats.
With 103 shares and 6,000 facebook views, fans say it is the best work on a music video. Director Riley Martin captures all the emotions while portraying the story of the song. "He knocked it out of the park on this one. If I do one thing well, it is to stand back and let Riley work his magic. He has a vision of what he wants. From my perspective, I'm fortunate to work with somebody who knows what I want, and what they want, and put it all together. It's incredible how much we think alike."(Andrew)
September 2019 - JIM BEAM ME UP Released as New Single
After 2 years behind the scenes, Andrew releases a brand new song titled 'Jim Beam Me Up' to social media and country radio. The song was produced by Gary DiBenedetto at Studio D in Moultrie, GA. In this new song, Andrew tells the story of someone caught up in their own comical dream, waking up to find out the girl he was with was way too young. He can't tell if his friend Jim (Beam) helped him or fooled him.
The song is classic country led by the fiddle. It carries the original sound of country music in the early 90s. Described as fun and upbeat, Jim Beam Me Up may be the best song and record released from Andrew.
It is available on iTunes, CD Baby and many other music outlets. Take a listen here:
Andrew credits both a former colleague and former 4-Her for inspiration for the song. As a salesman for a pest control company in Nashville, TN, Andrew came up with the name of the song and pitched it to David Butler. Butler called back and said, "I have the hook of your new song, 'Jim Beam me up one more time, I got a fist full of dollars and I'm going to let it ride." That hook stuck with Andrew, and he drafted the song. But it wasn't until he moved to Thomas County, Georgia where the song would be complete.
One day, Andrew took out ole Jim Beam and started singing it. His colleague Robin Nelson said, "I'm not eavesdropping on your song, but I have to tell you a story about Hope (Robin's daughter) at the state horse show." The story was so amusing to Andrew that he re-wrote the last verse and made the song into a hit.
June 2019 - April Witkowski
April Witkowski graciously designed the CD cover and pages for Andrew's 2014 album A New Tradition In Southern Sound. April, her three children, and her husband Peter live in Virginia where Peter serves as pastor of Amissville Baptist Church. In May, April was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer following a CT scan to identify pain in her back.
April has been seen by oncologists at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where she is undergoing hormonal treatment under the direction of a research study. If the hormonal treatment does not fight the cancer, she will being chemotherapy.
It is certainly a challenging time for their family. Please keep them in your prayers. If you would like to read Peter's blog for updates, visit witkowskiblog.com.
May 2019 - Area Pecan Agent
Andrew joins the UGA Pecan team as the new Area Pecan Agent for Southeast District. This position is from a partnership between University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and the Georgia Pecan Commission. Andrew serves both county agents and growers in Southeast Georgia. His territory stretches from Washington, Jefferson counties north to the Florida line south. It includes everything from the Ocmulgee River to the east coast. Pecan acreage has grown in the southeast for the past 5 - 10 years, and Hurricane Michael's devastation will likely see a shift in pecan varieties in Georgia when replanting new trees.
Andrew previously served as County Extension Coordinator in Wilcox County from 2017-2019 and County Ag Agent in Thomas County from 2011 - 2017. His work in pecans includes Asian Ambrosia Beetles and Pecan Leaf Phylloxera. His programming has focused on young trees, particularly pruning.
Below Andrew is pictured with UGA Pecan Horticulturalist Dr. Lenny Wells:
March 2018 - South Georgia Pine Ag Update Radio Program
A brand new tab added to the website includes each week's radio agriculture program from Andrew, the County Agent. Working as an agriculture consultant with UGA Extension, Andrew's radio show became popular while he served in Thomas County, Georgia. Since moving to the upper coastal plain, Andrew's radio program continues on the stations listed below:
- Wolf Country WUFF. 97.5FM Eastman - Throughout week
- Hot Country WWKM, 91.3FM Rochelle – Throughout week
- Your Country WDXQ, 96.7FM Cochran – Throughout week
- Solid Gospel WULS, 103.7FM Douglas – Monday thru Friday at 6:50am
- WPAX, 103.7FM / 1240AM Thomasville – Saturday at 7:50am
- Classic Country WTUF, 106.3FM Thomasville
May 9th, 2017 - LITTLE BLACK DRESS MUSIC VIDEO DEBUT
The 13th music video from Runaway Cotton Records since 2008. It was a great experience to bring this song to life. Filmed in Boston, GA, Andrew says, "I hear more about this song than any other song from the record. It has to be the saddest, heart-breaking song on there. I spent so much time crafting this song - so much that I get to where I don't even play it or sing it much anymore. It's amazing how many people like it. I always thought it would be too sad to film, but having the kids makes a difference. The kids did great - Callie, Cara, Jack and David. I'm glad the parents let them do it. Riley did a fantastic job on the video. I'm glad he brought this one to the table."
March 2017 - "Every Story Has A Song"
Long-time friend Christy Layfield - owner of Thomasville Magazine - features Andrew in the 2017 Spring issue! The article presents the story of how Andrew transitioned from performance music into songwriting, his love for country music, and music videos filmed in Thomas County, GA. Visit local business in Thomasville to pick up a copy or find the story on their website.
"People don't write music. It's given to them." - Hank Williams