Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

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


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Is the picture out there, or in here?

Greetings. I am on the plane back from Germany, just having performed with the Bennie Wallace 10 piece band. We did 2 concerts, but last night’s concert was at “Semperoper” – an unbelievably prestigious, beautiful concert hall, very much like Carnegie Hall – only much older and historic! Pics on myspace.

Before I go on (and this is not lip service) it was an honor to play with these 9 very, very excellent musicians. Yes, every one has a spark of genius, and it was a wake up call to never stop in the quest for excellence and musical understanding, ability and humility. I am honored that these guys would have me play with them as a peer.

=-=-=-

I watch my mind during my tours and gigs, and not only try to play great music, but to grow mentally and spiritually. There are always tough moments for me when I travel. They are mostly internal, and they give me the chance for growth.

2 nights ago, I found myself listening to some talks by Alan Watts on my laptop – he’s a well known scholar of Buddhism and eastern philosophy, and he was a key figure in explaining eastern ideas to westerners. He’s got this dry English accent and wit that make him fun to listen to. A night later, I stumbled on a “teachings of the Buddha” alongside the Bible in my hotel night-stand droor. Yeah Germany – you’re getting hip! As always, teachings were appearing before me as I needed them.

The previous tour in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky brought up in me a lot of “aversion”, a feeling of “pushing away”. Please don’t get me wrong if you were there and enjoyed the music – playing the music was a blast. However, I experienced this feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was just wrong and dealt with dissatisfaction, fear and doubt more than usual. Bravo – it pushed me out of my comfort zone, and resistance to the present moment arose. Time to grow!

We all do this when we are on line waiting for a slow cashier. It’s a “no”, a push that we feel inside. So I felt “no, I deserve more money, better hotels, more recognition, more publicity, easier travel” and so on. I made myself unhappy for much of it. I was grasping for “something better”.

In contrast, last night I stayed at the Hilton in Dresden, played with stellar musicians, in the most prestigous place I have ever played, got payed well and ate like a king. My feeling was, “wow ,of course this is cool, but it simply is what it is. I am here. So this is what I have been grasping for? It’s still me and my guitar, my mind, my fingers and I have to do my best. This is just as much NOW as Kentucky was NOW. Different, but not really, because I am always here in the NOW!”

It’s very hard to describe, but I saw a MAJOR flaw and built in guaranteed misery for all of us humans in the whole grabby-grasping for the things we want, and the pushing away of the things we don’t want. And magically, a book on Buddhism appeared in front of me.

I want to be serene more than I want anything. I guess I still want the pleasure, but there is a wide-awake delectability when there is calm, peace and acceptance. It’s a joy that is quiet and still – and always there if the tornado of the mind chills out!!! It’s a greater pleasure than a vacation, money, or ego inflation. It is the backdrop of inner peace.

The little Buddhism book from the hotel says many perfect things, but here’s the one closest to what I felt when I looked at this push-pull in my own mind:

“People grasp at things for their own imagined convenience and comfort; They grasp at wealth and treasure and honors; they cling desperately to mortal life.

They make arbitrary distinctions between existence and non-existence, good and bad, right and wrong. For people, life is a succession of graspings and attachments, and then, because of this , they must assume the illusions of pain and suffering.”

Can YOU see that attachment to the “good things” leads to misery when they are not there? Can you see that grasping to re-create a past experience is the hell of grasping, and that the present offers all that you’d need? Can you see that getting a nice big fat ego boost and enjoying it makes you thirst and kill for the next ego boost, which vanishes like a mirage?

Thank you life, for being the greatest teacher of all. See you tomorrow.

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Jazzheads, meet everyday folks who love music! Folks, meet the jazzheads!

It’s 7 am on 5/22/08 and I am packing to go to Germany to play some gigs with Bennie Wallace’s “Disorder at the Border” Coleman Hawkins tribute band. The band has some of the finest players in the jazz world today, so this is a real treat!

Everything has it’s price, and to prepare for this gig I had to set the acoustic down and really spend some time wrapping my head and hands around playing straight ahead jazz. Shifting gears so to speak!!!

Music is like anything – the more you listen, think about and play a certain “bag”, the more you attract similar ideas and thoughts. The thoughts and musical language gain momentum and creativity.

Electric jazz with a band and solo acoustic guitar are basically 2 different languages. Just think “english” and “chinese” and suspend judgement for a moment.

What’s interesting is that no matter which “world” you happen to be in at any given time, it seems like the world you’re in is ultimate reality, that nothing could be better, and that you look at the other side of the fence and go “blecchhh!”

This gives me a keen appreciation of what listeners go through when they are not accustomed to a certain genre of music. What I am asking you is this…don’t stay stuck. Whatever side of the fence you are on, give the other kinds of music a try – yet – trust your gut!!!

A fan of my acoustic playing just emailed me this, and I think it speaks on behalf of many people:

“I’m not hugely into jazz (I pretended to be in university 🙂 but now I have nothing to prove and have realized I am not musically sophisticated enough to appreciate any of it). I’m kinda thinking jazz is music for other musicians. Too complicated for us non musicians. Smack me awake if I’m wrong.”

Interesting! Part of the problem here is that A LOT OF JAZZ REALLY FRIGGIN SUCKS!!!! In fact most of it makes my skin crawl, and I love jazz – the right jazz!!!

The jazz world today has provided an environment in which some musicians can get away with intellectual crapola combined with good instrumental chops. I say this – if you want it to feel good, want to groove to it, tap your foot, and hear that yearning of the blues in the jazz – you simply need someone to tell you who some great artists are.

Another way of saying this is that a lot of today’s jazz is “up in the head” rhythmically, the notes being ear candy. Everyday folks – you want more, I know. Jazzheads take note, everyday folks don’t like that crapola!!!

So – I will recommend a few jazz artists to you who I think you’ll dig. Mind you, listen to a few CD’s because quite often jazz artists change styles and you may enjoy an earlier or later period of a certain artist.

Take Miles Davis for example – there were 4 or 5 stages (at least to me) in his playing. 1) Playing and mentoring with Charlie Parker 2) Venturing Solo 3) leading various bands, with Coltrane & Cannonball 4) Leading the 60’s band with Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock & Tony Williams 5) Electric madness, “Bitches Brew” and all that.

This is a HUGE overview, but the music varies so widely that if you picked up “Bitches Brew” you may hate it, but you may really love “Kind Of Blue”.

Anyhow here are a few soulful, bluesy places to start checking out jazz:

Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”
Oscar Peterson
George Benson Earlier Stuff
Dr. Lonnie Smith (organ)
Stanley Turrentine
Lou Donaldson

I must say, my generation of jazz musicians has been totally supportive of my acoustic direction, because many of us grew up on 60’s rock, 70’s rock & pop, hip hop and so on. However, for the “musically sophisticated????” it’s very easy to slip into a mindset where other types of music sound as if they are falling short. I am aware that some musicians think I have had a lobotomy in taking my acoustic direction.

Here’s the problem. A lot of non jazz (rock pop blues etc) is particularly strong in one area, but certain areas of the music are lacking to a musicians ears. Regular folks take note – classical and jazz listeners have perceived music that is like fine dining, and when you hand them an aural “cheesburger” they may be more in the mood for “sushi deluxe”.

For example:

James Brown’s music – well it does not get any funkier!!! But, there is not much melody….heavy on the groove and the blues element. People can FEEL it, but a musician won’t necessarily enjoy any kind of melody and harmony. Personally I love it.

Folk songwriters music – may sound repetitive to musically trained ears, yet there can be a very human message in the lyrics, behind the music.

“Earth Wind and Fire” – just soak it up for what it is, allowing it to not be jazz.

“The Eagles” – great Americana rock, perfectly executed, perfect tunes, memorable and enjoyable. No, it ain’t a “Love Supreme” but they are EXCELLENT!!!

When I describe my guitar hero du jour – Tommy Emmanuel – to my fellow jazz musicians, I tell them the following:

“When you hear Tommy you get a total listening treat and fun experience. Great tunes, ferociously and impeccably played, variety, and total entertainment for non-musicians!”.

It’s easy to poo-poo a guy like him from a jazz point of view. I say this – show me one jazz guitarist that can hold the attention of an audience by playing solo for 2 hours, and make people freak out because they loved it so much. I know of only one – George Benson. (And now that I have a solo act together, hopefully I will be the second :-))

A fellow guitarist said that TE sounded too “country / hillbilly”. My reply – the hillbilly tunes serve a purpose in the set, offer contrast to the ballads, aggressive fast & loud tunes, and so on. In the name of crafting an evening of entertainment – they have their place.

In conclusion –

Regular folks, rockers & folk lovers – try some new stuff and gravitate towards any jazz artist you might like. Slowly you’ll expand your appreciation for different rhythms and harmonies. You are learning a new language, so just savor it!

Jazzheads – expand and listen for the good in all types of music. Listen to James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, Tommy Emmanuel, Hendrix, and Glenn Gould.

Allow it to be what it is and pay no mind to what it’s “not”. For years I heard what certain genrres were “not” rather than whet they “were”. Try to hear what others love about it, and take a look at what everyday folks like. Music is about communication, right?

Alright, gotta run to the airport!!!


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Back home in NYC, and still “Kentucky Fried” – Mission Accomplished!

Greetings!

It’s 9am on Monday May 19 and I woke up at 6am. I felt so beat, the tiredness woke me up…kind of like a hangover, minus the alchohol. And the minute the eyes open, my Kitty thinks is party time, so here I am.

Yestredays drive was a 15 1/2 hour trek. Left at Georgetown, KY at 5 am and made it to NYC by 8:30 pm. Granted, the last hour was traffic for the Holland Tunnel.

I listened to a lot of male choirs singing Christian songs, radio preachers, and desparately sought out any music on the radio played by real instruments and recorded analog as opposed to computers and digital music. Tried to avoid news stations which celebrated 10 year anniversaries of the world’s catastrophes as best as possible! Not easy though…

Thank God for my cell phone…I truly learned the depth of the Eagles’ lyric “don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy”.

I have just now caffinated my system with 1.5 grandes at my local Starbucks and took a notebook there to review my tour goals. Did I reach them? Are there new goals? What did I learn? And so on.

In short – I offer you and myself a resounding YES. Mission accomplished. This is not lip service – it is real.

What was the mission?

Mission: To manifest touring and creating solo guitar music for audiences as a reality, and build my following.

Ok, I know a lot of musicians do it, so what’s the big deal, you ask? Well, on an internal level I know I have made some excuses over the past few years, and wanted to stay safe, comfortabe and have things be convenient and “in control”.

However, with the “safe and convenient” approach I found that I’d look at my fellow musicians who were touring and “paying the road dues” with admiration and a sense of longing – and an inner voice told me that I needed to follow their example.

(There’s an expression that a man sometimes needs to travel the world to discover himself…how true!)

The funny thing is that when one has a sense of longing – one is actually rather far away from the goal. Therre’s this “off in the future” feeling, not a RIGHT NOW feeling.

Well, enough of that b.s.!!! Time for the warrrior approch of heading into the battle, rather than retrreating or avoiding or making excuses OR procrasinating.

Were the circumstances, travel, money and everything perfect? Far from it – but as I have learned from many success gurus – just get started. The “ready, fire, aim” approach is far better than the “ready, aim fire” approach. It’s ok if it’s not perfect as long as it’s moving ahead.

Of course I have toured and paid dues – but this was different kind of dues, because the European and American systems for getting gigs and touring are just different. And, the jazz dues are different from the “Americana / Rock /Blues” dues.

Here’s something money can’t buy – a fan, someone who loved the experience of hearing and seeing the gig:

=-=-=- FROM “AL”, a new Fan! =-=-=

“Thanks again for a fantastic performance the other night. You know, there are those who for really selfish reasons don’t give their all for such a small audience.

Dude, you put your heart and soul into it. It showed with each and every note you played. Thanks for giving that to us.

Looking forward to staying in touch with you and hearing much more of your music. I’ll turn as many people as will listen on to your music.

I’ve listened to the CD half a dozen times already and enjoy it more each time. It always makes it a much cooler experience when you know or have met the person playing.”

– AL
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There’s no telling how many people enjoyed the music this much, he’s just one who chose to reach out and email me. I guess this is how a following is built!

Today I’ll be getting myself together and putting out fires and cleaning up messes on the homefront. On Thursday I leave for 5 days in Germany with the Bennie Wallace band…time to get the bebop chops cookin’!

Until next time, be well and thanks for reading 🙂


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Tour Diary: Greetings from Charleston,WV Again!

It’s about 7 am on Saturday May 17 as I write. Wanted to get you up to date before heading out to Kentucky….again!

Last night the gig at Taylor Books here in Charleston was quite nice. Quite a contrast from the gig the night before at the smokey old rock joint – but each environment has its terrific aspects.

Again I was surprised by how what seemed like a weird situation going in turned into a great situation. Well, it was a bookstore cafe and I had no idea whether or not people would pay attention, listen, talk, etc.

As I set up my snazzy BOSE system people quietly worked on their laptops and I thought “Egads! They’ll have heart attacks if I open with ‘Machine Gun'”. I also thought once again “I came all the way for this?”

But here’s the BIG lesson. “This” is whatever I make it! 🙂 So there are many ways to look at and ‘color’ a situation.

I humorously introduced myself and apologized in advance for breaking everyone’s concentration ahead of time…got some giggles…ok – at least some communication was established. I then explained to them that my plan was to start nice and easy rather than hit them over the head, and slowly work them up into a lather. More giggles.

I started off set 1 with “Simplicity” and got to actually play at a reasonable volume, which I liked. Got into some toe-tapping stuff and ended with the Stevie Wonder medley.

Set 2 was fun…everyone was enjoying themselves and at one point I looked to a table of some older folks and said, “Folks, I have been nice all night and now it’s time for something not so nice – HIP HOP.” The look of horror on the lady’s face – priceless!!!!

I burst out laughing warmly and assured them that there would be no gunfire or drug dealing until after the set was over.

Once I hit “Chameleon” with the human beat box – I had those older folks groovin’ and smiling – “See, it ain’t so bad” I told them! Afterwards they wanted to know if that tune was on the CD, so they must have dug it.

The gig turned into a great little hang afterwards, and I got back to the hotel nice and early.

Special thanks to Sarah, Abagail and the rest of the staff at Taylor Books – and BUG, a young local musician who rescheduled his gig so that I could get this gig in!
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I’ll head out early today – doing another I-64 trek west, back to Georgetown, Kentucky for tonight’s gig at the Upbeat Cafe. Sunday will be the killer drive back to NYC.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the “Kentucky Fried” tour diary!

Keep swingin’!


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Tour Diary: Greetings from Charleston WV!

Well, last night’s gig at the Empty Glass here in Charleston was a much needed joyous night of music and fun on what has been a tour of driving interspersed with small moments of playing music. 🙂

The vibe and people were just great. As I pulled up on the little street to what looks like an unassuming little bar, I thought to myself – “I came all the way here for a bar gig?” And then upon connecting with the patrons (many of whom were the town’s top blues & rock musicians) I learned that the stage at The Empty Glass has seen the likes of Bela Fleck, Waylon Jennings, Governor Mule (is that right?). Suddenly a thought “Wow – there is some history here”. Funny how the mind works, eh?

(By the way – you can check their band out at http://myspace.com/thediablobluesband)

An acoustic duo opened for me – Sean and Karen, and they were a joy to hear. Great tunes, great voices, great vibe. Thank you Sean and Karen for your music.

http://www.myspace.com/karenallenarts

http://www.myspace.com/seanrichardsonmusic

I opened the night’s festivities with “Machine Gun” and the audience and I fell right into a wonderful interchange. They loved it and I loved them. Yep, that’s what being a musician is about – that’s our currency, what we value. You can’t buy “people enjoying your music”. Once again we see that the free things in life are the most precious, and the things we pay for are replacable!

I MUST give a shout out to “Roadblock” – the soundman and booker at the Empty Glass. In a music business full of agents, promoters and a whole lotta middlemen, he gave me the gig based on the idea of getting a new guy in and helping him build up a following. Like I have said in previous posts,it’s important to put people first, money second. There’s kind of a spiritual law that when you go with that, abundance and good vibes flow. Thank you Roadblock! We need more people like YOU in the biz!

Today I get to hang in the hotel, catch up on email and practice guitar. I just did a drive here in Charleston, picked up lunch, did some post office type errands…not unlike life at home. Wherever you go, there you are!

That’s it for now everyone, I’ll be at Taylor Books tonight and give you an update after the gig.

Thanks for stoppping by! Keep swingin!


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Greetings from Morehead, KY – “Americana Crossroads” Interview

Greetings!

It’s late, but I wanted to write.

Well I ought to sleep good, it’s been a long day. Sasha Collette (host of “Americana Crossroads” – Morehead State University Public Radio) and I hit the “Huddle House” restaurant after the radio show. I had eggs, grits – and yep, southern fried steak with white gravy! Yee Haa (burp). It was her home, and I appreciate the stay there. Simple living. And yes, a patron had a gun in a holster so I kept a low profile. 🙂

Sasha did a great radio show tonight, and it was a lot of fun and laughs to interview and play on the air. I brought the streets of NYC down here, gave em some beatbox “Chameleon” live on the air.

I will get some mp3’s of the interview up online…

Well, time turn into a pumpkin here…tomorrow I’ll hit Charleston, WV – about a 2 1/2 hour drive, which is a breeze actually (everything is relative)!

Be well, and pics will be coming!!! I’ll post again tomorrow. Keep swingin’!


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Tour Diary – Greetings from Louisville, KY!

Hi Y’all! Yee ha! Today is Tuesday 5/13/08 and I am in sunny Louisville, KY. My apologies for not having written in the last 2 days…

The gig at Patisserie Cafe in Lexington, VA was a joy. Kayla who runs the place is a very special person – and I gotta tell you, being on tour is about “people” not “gigs”. She rounded up a great audience and yep, the music got to ’em. I saw feet tapping and smiles…I’m sure I’ll be back there on the next trip.

Yesterday was a travel day…a LONG one!!! I drove from Lexington VA to Louisville, KY. Unexpectedly I found that Doyle Dykes was in town doing a Taylor guitar clinic, so I made myself go even after some serious driving exhaustion.

Doyle’s youtube videos were an early inspiration to me when I “caught” the fingerpicking bug 2 years ago. It was really cool to meet him, and hear him – and tell him what an inspiration he was and then plop a CD into his hands. He’s really a good ol’ southern player – with deep roots in country and bluegrass, and it’s just so cool to hear anyone play “the real thing” like that!

Here’s the video that knocked me out:

And there I was – in Kentucky seeing Doyle Dykes,and just mesmerized at seeing the “Law of Attraction” manifest people, places and events based around the visions in my mind. Call it what you will, but the outside that was manifesting around me started on the inside…

I heard the Talking Heads lyrics “And now I am asking myself how did I get here?”…it was bizarro for a NY guy to be transported into the middle of this.

In short, it feels good to be out here on the road. At times (got lotsa thinking time behind the wheel) I am asking myself whether or not I’ve lost my mind by giving up aspects of NY to be out here sluggin’ it out.

I am starting to see that you can’t look at any one day and go “Aha!”. It’s kind of like being in school and working towards a degree…one day may not seem like much, but by putting in day after day, over time – you build and accomplish a lot. That’s why I am out here.

Today I’ll take a trip to Berea where I’ll be doing a radio interview with Dave Butler for his show “Innervisions”. Gotta hop off the computer now, the little fingers need to warmup before I play a radio gig…

Onward!!


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Tour Diary- Greetings from Leesburg VA 5-10-08!

Greetings! I’m writing from a Days Inn breakfast room in Leesburg,VA and knocked out gig #1 last night of what I call my “Kentucky Fried” tour. I did a warmup gig at a small coffee house called Market Street Coffee.

Well the gig was ok, but I feel my playing was not at it’s peak. Gotta practice after finishing this post! 🙂

Before we get to Leesburg though, let’s go back to NYC in our minds – I’d like to thank Holly from Rudy’s music stop in NYC. I went there the day before the tour with a Taylor guitar with an intermittent ES pickup system. Needless to say, having equipment crap out the day before the tour is stressful. I do have a backup guitar, but the idea is to travel with 2 functioning guitars, not just 1.

Holly totally gutted & replaced the ES system. Oh, and just for kicks she filed & re crowned some frets, oiled the fingerboard, and saw that the nut grooves needed a slightly different cut. Yeah!! Thank you Holly for loving what you do and over delivering!

Last night’s gig was also the maiden voyage of my new BOSE L1. That too, was source of stress a day before leaving as it had been behaving weirdly at home. Long story short, the little T1 mixer is more akin to an ipod than a mixer. I had to download the latest firmware, reboot and all that jazz. The little T1 is incredible – 4 channels, digital effects, presets- all connected with just a data cable. Whatever the updates did, the BOSE did great on the gig.

I feel good knowing that I have a killer acoustic rig, and can show up anywhere and have great sound.

=-=-=-

An artist can’t stand still or just do yesterday’s tricks. What was full of life, and in the moment last month is not the same now! When I launched my acoustic direction part of the beauty was the freshness, the aliveness and the newness. I have officially hit the next stage, but an important one that I think many musicians deal with.

It’s time to refresh again. I already feel like I am doing yesterday’s tricks and it’s not even a year that the CD has been out. Yes, part of playing a great solo guitar gig is that you have great music ready to go under your fingers – and maybe it’s a question of being “in the moment” with the known music – just the same way David Copperfield has his tricks that he does night after night. Part of my practice today will be getting “the juice” back into tunes I feel like I have played ENOUGH.

Certain songs have a different meaning after having played them for a year. Some songs feel better and deeper. Some don’t feel right and need tweaking or need to be dropped / replaced. (FYI “I Got Rhythm” is one of my trickiest and I will go practice it in 5min…)

The journey never stops. Looking forward to tonight’s gig at Patisserie Cafe in Lexington,VA…..more to come!


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Adam Rafferty on Tour May 2008: Kentucky Fried Pickin’, BOSE L1, Visualization and more…

Friends, short entry here. I am very very excited about this tour that is coming up. I am doing a small tour of Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky playing SOLO guitar May 9-18, 2008.

Once again, I am PSYCHED to connect with people in the good ol’ US of A and make friends, play guitar and, well, get the hell out of NYC for a week!

Did I just say that? 🙂

Visit Adam’s Myspace for TOUR DATES

I am proud to tell you that I bought a killer sound system – the BOSE L1 (Model 2). I’ll be bringing it with me. It has to be seen (and heard) to be believed. Essentially it looks like a thin pole 7 feet tall, with a tiny subwoofer. And yep, BOSE kicked butt on the engineering. It’s better than a regular PA – less shleppping, and a better experience playing.

Take a look, and if you are near a Guitar Center, check it out:

http://www.bose.com/musicians

In fact, I spent enough on it that even if it sucks I am determined to like it 🙂

Seriously though I will post a more in-depth gear review after some gigs!

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It’s late here, yet I feel obliged to write.

I do want to say one thing – back when I started my solo guitar project is when I saw “The Secret”. Say what you will about the movie, but it is vital to know that we get what we think about whether it is wanted or unwanted.

In my minds eye I saw touring, playing for good ol’ folks in the heartland, and kickin ass on the guitar. And it’s a comin’. It took some time to manifest but iit’s on it’s way.

Now after having held the vision in my mind’s eye, it is becoming real.

Thank You, God – Universe – Source. It is an amazing feeling and realization to know that whatever I envision comes. It also gives me a “knowing” that the vision in my head is MORE important than what appears to be objective reality, as it paves the path ahead.

My current future visions – just to let you know, consist of concert hall and festival touring, a busier year-round touring schedule, more recording and well – more musical exploration.

I remember before I even had one solo arrangement down, I told my girlfriend Jill “Watch and you’ll see. It will happen…” and it is. I tell you the same!!!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

I promise I’ll write from the road. Looking forward to giving you tour updates!

Warmest Regards,

Adam