Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

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

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Don’t tell me you can groove – (Part 2)

A note on my last post.

I apologize if I seemed harsh, or flying off the handle. We all as humans have different beliefs and different priorities, are turned on by different things. One man’s poop is another man’s pie.

“Music” can mean lots of things to different people, and we all must either play or listen to whatever suits us. All of us have different tastes. No one is better than the other.

St. Augustine actually wrote on music – that it should be used to invoke a pious feeling of God. African rhythm is less still and pious yet activates the soul in a different way. There are all kinds of gradations along the lines of introspection and extroversion in music. There is no absolute, yet there is a “thing” that makes music great – “the muse”.

Something that can be awesome intellectually can be disregarded by a listener seeking a different experience. In high school we had a string quartet play Mozart and a fellow student heckled “Yo, play sumthin’ ’88!”. Classy, huh? Vice versa is also true. I have seen jazz and classical musicians put down blues and funk because of it’s seeming simplicity, and inability to be touched by it. I can dance to hip hop or funk and my mom would look at me and just not “get it”.

The point is, there is something for everyone.

Jazz started out as music you could dance to and has basically turned into everything and anything.

I like making people happy, and can honestly say that maybe yes – the sophistication in my music could be higher. However, my feeling is that once my mind is exhausted after thinking, thinking thinking, I let the feeling of love brew over into the music.

From there, the music is a vehicle to get the vibe across to the people. Connecting to the audience is really important to me. In me, that wins over cleverness. That is my choice.

I know, anyone can simply “emote” so I am hoping that years of playing at least give me some skill to actually play well, as opposed to a kid getting a guitar and emoting the first week he bought it!

So, there is room for all of us in the sandbox. Music music music! I love you.



Don’t Tell Me You Can Groove…Show Me!!!

Ok, I know I am about to sound as if I am on a high horse, so this is my disclaimer up front: I don’t know everything, I don’t know squat, I do my best and I give thanks for the gifts I have been given. I love playing with musicians who raise me to new heights and am always seeking growth.

As an artist it is really best politically sometimes to stay out of talks like this and be aloof…on the other hand, I can’t stay quiet on this.

Now that we got that out of the way, I have a bone to pick. Last night I was paid an extremely high compliment at a gig that is a steady one for me, that someone really appreciated my guitar work because it grooved – and that I was in fact the favorite guitar player.

Thanks! πŸ™‚

Apparently the fellows who played the night before me were good “intellectual, abstract” jazz musicians with great knowledge – except for one problem – the bar & restaurant staff and patrons hated it!!! πŸ™‚

One of the more musically educated patrons then said (a bunch of us were chatting on a break) “Well these guys didn’t really groove or swing – they could if they wanted to, though. I guess they’re into something else”.

Ok, everyone – I am on the GROOVE ENFORCEMENT task force and I am now yelling “FREEZE!”.

There is a common misconception that burns me up and here it is: “Grooving musicians can’t play intellectual stuff, but intellectual guys can groove if they want – however, they choose not to because they are into something more advanced.”

Guess what – NO THEY CAN’T GROOVE EVEN IF THEY WANTED. It is not that they are choosing not to groove. They can’t. I am so sick of this. They think they can play in 4/4 and play with a drummer and be in the same place, that’s a groove. That’s like buying a bike vs being able to actually ride it!

Here is the rub – the entire basis of this is mental vs emotion. So, for musicians trapped in the mental realm, they themselves think they can groove. So, the tool they are measuring themselves with is self referential, and mental.

Show me someone ELSE in the audience tapping their foot, dancing, most of all – HAPPY. Don’t show me an audience deep in thought trying to follow what you do. Don’t show me an audience of egotists who want to show that they can appreciate “abstract jazz” i.e. the emporer’s new clothes. Show me that the people are reacting to the groove you think you are laying down.

There is an emotional intelligence to this kind of music. I myself LOVE connecting with people, love getting them grooving, and love creating an experience. I have worked hard, and continue to do so – to get people dancing, and have been fortunate enough to do this with a single guitar. Yes, dancing!!!

So, don’t tell me you can do this and you are choosing not to. If you can do it – let’s see!!

Show me that you – by yourself – no drums, no nothing, can groove. Then, if you choose to not “groove” because you have something better, you’ll get my respect. Until then, I’ll need proof.

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Adam Rafferty and Friends LIVE @ The Bar Next Door, NYC Gig Review 7/20/08

Here I go, reviewing my own gigs again. It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.

Last nights gig was a BLAST, and I hope that everyone had as much fun as I did. The audience was tough to read at first…New Yorkers are a tough bunch, but after the first set I had some believers, for sure. Actually the audience was listening intently, but just not showing a whole lotta love at first. A few Martinis in their bloodstream remedied that though! And…the special guests who performed were a knockout – more on them in a minute!

About the solo stuff…

I got to do a bunch of “first time” tunes. “Billie Jean” was a smashing success. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” – the tune made famous by Bonnie Raitt (I learned that an ex-NFL linebacker wrote it) got me points with the cocktail waitress, so that was good. I also got to perform 2 originals “Ciao Bella” which worked great, and a banjo type tune which well…still needs work!

About the guests…

She’s pretty, she’s got sex appeal, stage presence and actually can sing pretty good too! πŸ™‚ Sabine Kuhlich from Germany sat in on a few tunes on vocals and sounded great. Highlights of her appearance were our Page / Plant trading of blues licks on “Stormy Monday” and an audience participation percussion groove on “So Danca Samba”. Even the bartenders got ice into their Martini shakers and got in on the fun…don’t tell their boss!

Check her out on the web:

Everyone got a taste of one of my favorite American Rock and Roll singer-songwriters (not to mention he’s a savvy record producer) – Jefferson Thomas. Folks, he’s got a vibe that is just real honest, real, and he tells a story when he sings his tunes! I am fortunate to have had Jeff stop by last night. He was scheduled to play Union Square outdoors earlier that day, and due to the heat, his gig was postponed. Hey – great for me, because I could then invite him to come and sit in. He brought a whole new flavor to the show!

And now check him out:

In short it was a fun night for all – the audience and us musicians as well! Isn’t that how it oughta be? I think so…


Greetings from CAAS in Nashville, TN!

I am sitting in the Nashville airport on the way home to NYC after having spent 3 uplifting days at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society convention (CAAS).

I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun this was, and how many wonderful people I met. Not to mention, I heard some of the greatest pickers in the world.

(I will post all the photos on my myspace page soon, so take a look.)

What really thrilled me was to dive into a scene where I knew virtually no one, and within days I was embraced by the guys (and girls) there…I gave some lessons on how I do my solo arrangements – and I got some lessons too!

Buster B. Jones showed me some very cool fingerpicking stuff, gave me insights on rhythm…Tony McManus showed me some wildly beautiful celtic type patterns and techniques.

It was a blast to meet Pete Huttlinger, it felt like meeting an old friend – as we have had what appears to be a similar “jazz background” before entering the acoustic world (he’s been doing it a tad longer though!!!)

I also got to hear Chet’s music more and listen to the older players who are masters of that style. It really has such a happy “sound”. I’ve just been in a great mood from listening to it!

And…the young talent was VERY promising indeed! It was great to see the “young fellas” fired up about guitar.

The whole vibe of the event was upbeat and happy. The intent of all was to make nice music, and there was an overall attitude of camraderie and support.

Mark Pritcher and his team did a fabulous job of hosting a great event…Mark, THANK YOU!

Well…back home to NYC in a few minutes…the plane is boarding…see you soon!


Stillness at 7am and Pervading Peace

Greetings Friends.

It’s about 7 am, and I am enjoying my first sips of hot fresh coffee…the streets of Queens are quiet and only half of the street is seeing the first rays of today’s sun….

This past week was fabulous. I had a knockout gig at Acoustic Long Island, spent time with my family, had some “working musician” type gigs, and today I leave for Nashville to hang out at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society yearly gathering.

Life is good. I am at peace. I am fortunate to wake up every day to infinite possibilities. I am blessed to have a worthwhile goal of playing this guitar as good as I can.

It’s really not all about “guitar” though. I am lucky and fortunate in life to see meaningful goals ahead of me, and I get to spend my time and energy every day realizing those goals. I have made decisions and sacrifices to set up that type of lifestyle.

To witness the unfolding of it all is breathtaking. To see that I, as a human, have the ability to visualize something and bring it into being is an awesome feeling.

A few years ago I envisioned playing solo acoustic guitar for people and knocking ’em out. To see that the “vision” has materialized means I can create my reality, I can do it – whether it is a house, car, career – anything – I can do it. And, I’ll never “get there”…it’s all a delicious process.

Success is the “delicious unfolding” of one’s desires. Success is living on purpose, rather than default.

I get to wake up every day and feel this good. That is wealth, abundance and success. I wish this for everyone.

When I talk to friends and family, and I see their confusion, not knowing the career direction they want, or frustration, the comparing to others and feeling like they are falling short, not looking good enough, and all the typical psycho spiritual ailments of common folks, I want to tell them……

Turn the TV off.
Turn the laptop off.
Get quiet.
Be still.
Allow restlessness to arise, but stay there.
Allow the chatter to go on, it is it’s own thing. It’s not you.
Watch what happens when it stops.
Bathe in the silence.

Do this twice a day for 30 minutes and watch your life change.


Time to pack…see you in Nashville!!!