Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

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

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The Michael Jackson Fingerstyle Guitar Sessions – A Musical Mastermind Meeting

My buddy Paul Beaudry and I started doing 2 person “mastermind” sessions in 2007. Even though we are musicians, we realized that chatting in the car rides after gigs was not enough, and that we needed non-music time to sharpen our minds and lives.

“Mastermind” meetings have been done by the greatest businessmen of all time like Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie and other great leaders. They are described and recommended in many of today’s success books by authors like Jack Canfield and Brian Tracy.

The concept of a “Mastermind” meeting is that the group, collectively harnesses divine, cosmic intelligence to bear on a problem or issue and helps solve it.

Each member gets to take a turn presenting their problem and hearing about a possible solution. It’s more than a think tank though. Very special forces come into play when intelligent minds come together as one, in a cosmic focus, and are open to the power of the divine.

Advice can be personal, financial, psychological, informational – and in our case, musical.

This is very different from someone giving you a flip opinion about what you should do. Mastermind meetings take a spiritual aspect into account, and the minds present work as one and connect in ways we can’t comprehend intellectually. Egos have to step aside while the cosmic mind gets to speak through the group, which can be as small as 2.

Paul and I start each weekly meeting (yes, in the middle of Starbucks, usually) with a prayer, or incantation if you will. One of us says this out loud while we both hold our hands in prayer:

“We now ask to be filled and surrounded with light, and our hearts be open to receive guidance from the higher power.”

It’s from these meetings with Paul that all my DVD and CD ideas came into focus. I can remember coming into meetings with 10 ideas about what to accomplish next, and Paul might say “well the next order of business is the MJ CD.” Also – it is thanks to Paul that I went to a real recording studio to record this, and didn’t set up mics at home and do a hack, homemade job.

Even what appears to be mundane advice as shown above has a spiritual essence, just behind it. To leap into courageous actions brings up issues of one’s self worth, self esteem, vision of what life will be like, and goal setting.

A Musical Mastermind Mixing Session

Yesterday Paul came down to my 2nd mix session for my Michael Jackson Fingerstyle Guitar CD, so we had 4 people in the studio: Paul, Gene Paul (Les Paul’s son and mix / master genius) and his partner Jamie Polaski. Jamie has been appreniticng with Gene for years, and is just awesome with the ears and the tools. (Check them out at

Paul and I stepped out for lunch, and I said to him “Wow this is a helluva mastermind session. 4 sets of ears and intelligent musical minds all bearing down on the problems and subtleties of this music. I’m lucky.”

We looked at eachother and laughed, because this was a textbook definition of the “Mastermind.” The group was harnessing the power of the cosmic mind, and revealing a “true” solution to each little song on this record. Every person brought a little piece of truth and intelligence to the sound.

I stepped back, and saw that this would be impossible to do as one person. Too much can slip past one guy or gal. I then gave thanks to God, realizing how lucky I was to be there and have these guys help make the next CD be the most excellent CD it can be.


Gene Paul Gave Me a Music Lesson

Two days ago, I dropped a hard drive off at my mixing and mastering studio for my upcoming Michael Jackson Guitar CD. Time to mix & master…I start tomorrow!

The “engineer” is more than just an engineer. He’s the one and only Gene Paul – son of guitar and recording legend, Les Paul.

Gene played drums in Les Paul’s working band for years, and of course was privy to Les’ genius, since Les was his dad. Later on, Gene became a top notch enginieer…now he primarily does mastering.

I was only there for about an hour, but I took a gander at the gold records on the wall. Does “Kiling Me Softly” by Roberta Flack ring a bell? Well, he was the engineer on the session. I’ll try to remember the others and post an update here…

As we chatted, he asked what I had been up to since the last CD. I told him: touring, practicing and perfecting the show and arrangements as best I can, so that I can provide a great night of enjoyable music for an audience.

That’s all he needed to hear, and my music lesson started. (I wish I had recorded him….I’ll see if I can get him to do an interview.) I sat with ears and eyes like sponges for soaking up his masterful words.

He went on to tell me stories of how his dad – every night – either audio taped or video taped his show, and then listened, and analyzed. He said that Les particularly paid attention to timing, the interaction with the audience…seeing what worked and what didn’t. It was all about the show.

Watch Les in action, how he communicates to the audience through the eyes, the music…watch what he does at the end. What a showman! So much is said with this simple tune…

At one point he told me Les got a Django record (yes record…LP…played with a needle) and worked on a Django lick for days. Suddenly, on the gig Gene heard this lick fuse into his Dad’s playing and asked him about it. Les would say “It was Djangos, but now it’s mine…”

A week between gigs? No problem…Les would take other gigs, even if they just covered hotels (between good paying gigs) just to keep the band and stage show razor sharp.

The point being that well into a ripe old age, Les Paul never stopped learning, studying, practicing, analyzing.

This should serve as inspiration to us all! It never ends…and if you ever saw the youthful life in Les’s eyes (I got to play with him when he was well into his 90’s and did see it – watch that video if you haven’t) you’d know…that youthfulness was surely due to an inquisitive, active and intelligent mind!

Ok. Time to stop blogging and start picking…Happy Monday!

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A 15 Year Old Guitar Player asks “Do you arrange all your Michael Jackson guitar songs by ear”…

Hi. I am 15 years old and have just started playing acoustic guitar and you are a great inspiration to me. I love all of your music, but especially the Michael Jackson tunes because he is my favorite artist. The question that I wanted to ask you is do you arrange all your music completely by ear and if so do you just listen to the music over and over or do you find the basic chords or something to get started?

Read My Answer Here


Musicians – Please Stop “Making It Big”

My buddy Jefferson Thomas got a hilarious text message from a singer the other day about a bass players availability for a gig. It read:

“Is he available for a gig, or is he trying to ‘make it'”.

We had a good laugh, and let’s not forget – all humor has some truth in it!


A letter to all musicians.

We will always play music because we love it.

However in the process of us who are trying to “have a career”, “make it”, book gigs, make a living and all be the top dog, I urge everyone to take a time out.

We must realize that we are constantly being forcefed “celebrity” – America’s drug of choice (according to Chuck D of Public Enemy), and we are affected by it collectively. It’s easy to forget why we love playing music and turn the simplicity of a song into a house of mirrors.

Everything has become the web presence, the shows, the gigs, the tours, the photos, the twitter, the hits on youtube, to many of us.

It’s all very nice when these things support the music, but when it becomes more important than the music, which we have let it – all of life becomes tainted with the “never having enough”.

The sickness of the music community (and all of showbiz) wanting “something for nothing” is running rampant. Shows like American Idol and overnight internet sensations cloud worthwhile artists from public view – but worse…they spread an MTD (mentally transmitted disease) of “making it”.

Now audiences too can feel the addiction of “wow I can be a celebrity too”. When they see the average, mediocre talent that is on display it is in reach for them. A baby can sing “Hey Jude” and be a star.

It used to be that audiences appreciated seeing someone do something that they COULDN’T do.

Imagine if everyone stopped trying to “make it”.

Imagine if YOU stopped trying to “make it”. Might you not be happier? How much will actually change?

None of the people who are “making it” are fooling me. Their being flashed before my eyes is like a temporary newspaper headline.

I call on you, dear musician, to abandon “making it big”. Just do what you do, let the profundity speak for itself with its own quiet voice. Carry on and live from the heart.


Why do I write this? To give value to the music community in some kind of way. To orient students and aspiring pros in a direction that will blossom.

In hindsight, the only thing that has ever done my “career” any good was being 100% into the music and feeling the natural joy that comes from that. Everything else has NOT worked…and believe me, I have tried!


Good Luck, and groove on!