I first learned of Andrew Alli’s music late last summer.

Andrew and his musical compadre, Josh Small, were a part of a contingent of musicians from Virginia who traveled to the United Kingdom to perform at the Long Road Music Festival. I was blown away at first listen and began scheming as to when and how I could see him live.

Last month, I was lucky enough to host Andrew and Josh for a listening room show here in Wise.

It was an incredible evening of music.

The energy in the music that this duo is able to create with just a harmonica and acoustic guitar is palpable. Alli’s blues harp combines effortlessly with Small’s jazz-inflected guitar playing. The crowd gathered here was wowed for sure.

Andrew Alli and Josh Small recently released a self-titled EP featuring six tracks that prove the spirit of the blues lives and breathes still.

I recently caught up with Andrew to chat about the blues, playing the harmonica, and his day job in trail maintenance at James River Park in Richmond, Virginia.

BRO – What got you into playing the blues?

AA – Well, I technically found the harmonica before I got into the blues. Ten years ago, when I was in college, I was inspired by a guy who was playing harp on the street. That day I went to the store and bought a cheap harp and instantly fell in love with it. Shortly after that, I discovered all of the legendary blues harp players and the rest is history.

BRO – Who is on your Mt. Rushmore of harp players?

AA – That’s easy. Big Walter Horton, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and George Harmonica Smith.

BRO – Best part about playing music with Josh Small?

AA – Josh and I have been playing together so long that we anticipate where the other is going. He’s also just a real down to Earth and easy going friend with great musical taste.

BRO – We are featuring “My Stomp” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?

AA – I wrote this song a while ago when I was a bit younger and playing out with other bands. I would often be questioned about my place in the blues community being so young. I feel that the blues is nothing but a feeling and experience. “My Stomp” tells a bit of my story and relationship with what we call the blues.

BRO – Plan a great day in James River Park for me.

AA – I would start the morning with a nice mountain bike ride on the North Bank and Buttermilk Loop Trail. After that, it’s down the river for a canoe trip to Williams Island to pick freshly ripened paw paws. Finally, we would hit the Texas Beach rocks for some swimming and a beverage and watch the sunset.

You can catch Andrew Alli and Josh Small live at Hardywood Craft Brewery in Richmond later this month and in early February.

For more information on Andrew Alli, when you can catch him live with Josh Small, and how you can get a copy of the new EP, check out his website.

And be sure to take a listen to “My Stomp,” along with brand new tracks from Pierce Pettis, Melody Guy, and Amelia White on this month’s Trail Mix.