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Andrew Robert Palmer releases new album as a love letter to the South Suburbs

Andrew Robert Palmer, a 36-year-old folk-rock musician with strong pop-punk influences who will be performing at Homewood’s Trail Mix Fest on Oct. 1., has released an album he calls a love letter to the Southern Suburbs.

Titled “South Suburban,” the album has a photo of Pearson’s Bakery on the cover, and the lyrics have references to local places such as Walt’s Food Center, Heather Road and Aurelio’s Pizza.

“I’ve always had a love of home and trying to appreciate beauty wherever you are,” Palmer said. “All communities can be cool and interesting places to live, just by virtue of the people who are there coming together and being a part of something together.

“The South Suburbs and the suburbs in the Chicago area get less attention than the city. And I think there’s some civic pride where you can say: ‘This one’s for us. This is one for where I’m from.’”

Palmer grew up in Hazel Crest, lived in Homewood and went to Marian Catholic High School. Today, he lives on the northwest side of Chicago near O’Hare International Airport.

“I’m a South Side traitor,” Palmer said jokingly, regarding his North Side residence.

There’s a lot of “nostalgia” on his new record, Palmer said. South Suburban has lyrics such as “When I snuck out on the Fourth of July, I had a major crush on you but I was too shy, […] You broke my heart in the South Suburbs” and “I always wear my South Suburban pride, Deep down I’ll always be a South Suburban guy.”

South Suburban’s first track is titled “Home Sweet Homewood.” There’s another song titled “Aurelio’s, Baby” where Palmer sings, “This is a little Love letter to just one of the places that made me, We’ve had every celebration — birthdays, graduations — here since I was a baby, baby.”

Ben Folds is Palmer’s biggest influence, he said. Palmer said he grew up listening to Ben Folds Five, Blink-182 and other pop-punk bands and emulating them. Ben Folds Five is a pop-punk band that was most active from 1993 to 2000. The band eventually lead to its lead singer Ben Folds’ solo career.

Palmer said he played the drums in a pop-punk in a band called the Narcs as a teenager. As he grew older and established himself as a solo-artist, Palmer’s style has been described as more akin to the folk genre.

“Obviously, it’s all rock and roll at the end of the day. I think I’ve been described as folk-rock because I kind of ping-pong around between the rock and folk genres. But yeah, Blink-182 and all of that were a huge influence on me,” said Palmer.

“South Suburban” is Palmer’s first record to be released on vinyl, he said.

“I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t have a record player. I put it out knowing that it’s popular and that people buy vinyl,” said Palmer. “I don’t know how it sounds. I’ve never listened to it. But I listened to the CD. I know how that sounds.”

Palmer said that being a millennial, he feels a strong, personal attachment to CDs. Palmer said he used to dream about having his CD prominently displayed at Best Buy. But since Best Buy has discontinued the selling of CDs, he’s had to form new ideas about making it in music.

“I’d like to go on a tour. I’d like to put out a record that gets some recognition,” Palmer said. “I think if everyone’s honest, the goal is to be doing this full time. That’s what you want to do. I think with musicians or artists, as things exist in this country, it’s hard to choose something else. Because it’s like, ‘I found the thing I’m really passionate about.’”

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