Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy


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Greetings musician friends!

Well, I just spent all day yesterday re-recording the Dr. Lonnie Smith tune “Play it Back” on solo acoustic guitar. I have had the honor of playing this with him live at a few gigs and jazz festivals, and it’s one of those tunes that jam bands are jumping all over.

It’s a blues that never goes to IV chord, and has a characteristic little riff and break at the V chord.

Anyhow, that being said – I feel honored to have played with Dr. Lonnie, as he is one of the remaining jazz, blues & funk greats from the past. But man, let me tell you the stuff he does on gigs now is the future – he gets WAY out there!

I love the way he just rocks this whole groove on the stage and that’s part of what I am going for in my solo guitar act. Not to be a good guitar player, but to be a house rocker, a musical force like a Lonnie. That’s the thing with the greats – they are a musical force, not just a good instrumentalist.

So why did I re-record? Well, see my entry about spiritually vs technically correct. I have done recordings where I did not feel the groove was on the money, and had engineers, sidemen, friends, family – everyone say “It sounds good”. And then I go to listen and it just ain’t movin’ me, or makin’ my feet tap.

That’s why I re-recorded. The difference is so subtle – if you A/B the takes, they sound the same….but wait – I find myself grinning with the new take.

And, the thing with music where the groove is off is this:

1) you hear a piece of music, sense a possible groove and start moving your body
or maybe just tapping your foot

2) something in the music goes against the grain of body rhythm, you have to stop moving, and get a new frame of reference, and try to hook your body moving up to it again. Doing this continually as the music unfolds is the worst exhaustion I know. Eventually, one is forced to disconnect from the music in a “body rhythm” fashion and is forced to listen “from the neck up”.

OUCH. God forgive me, I have in my past created music that does this. Being stressed with studio time & costs, not hiring the right people, and just lack of experience and feeling off-center can knock the groove out.

Finally I feel like I am getting it!

When the groove is on:

1) you hear a piece of music, sense a possible groove and start moving your body
or maybe just tapping your foot

2) the music is obeying the same law that your “body rhythm” obeys. You, the listener can move your body and every little pop and squeak from the music your listening to goes right with how you are moving.

When this happens, a momentum known as “depth of groove” builds, and the joy and enjoyment build and build because you are in a flow, and you never have to “correct” where you are at in the trajectory of your dancing or foot tapping motions.

So, just like Stevie Wonder says in “Sir Duke”:

“But just because a record has a groove
Dont make it in the groove
But you can tell right away at letter ‘A’
When the people start to move”

The final judge is not me in this case. Of course it is good if I feel good about the music I am making, as no amount of whitewashing, accolades or praise will ever make me feel good if I feel that my music sucks.

You, the listener have to enjoy the music for me to be happy. And I’ll know by the twinkle in your eye, or the vibe “between the lines” of your email, or tone of your voice if it really turned you on.

So it is not about the money, the ego trip, the career; it is about the music being right. Whatever good follows that is gravy!

Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

One thought on “Rhythm

  1. Adam,

    Love your playing… any tips on how to develop groove?


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