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A Dirty Dozen with ADAM EZRA from ADAM EZRA GROUP – March 2021

| 13 March 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Over the course of the last year, Adam Ezra Group has streamed more than 22,000 minutes, performed over 2,500 songs, and garnered nearly 13 million views with their daily livestream called The Gathering Series, sponsored by Iron Smoke Whiskey. Tonight, the band will mark a monumental feat with Gathering 365, their 365th consecutive stream – PRESS HERE to tune in at 7pm ET/4PM PT. Initially created as a way to connect with people to feel less lost and scared during difficult times at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ezra turned to livestreaming with his first digital show on March 13, 2020 and returned every single night. Driven by a belief that small grassroots communities have the power to impact the world, The Gathering Series’ daily livestream stands as a testament not only to Ezra’s artistic endurance, but also his ability to provide an accepting and supportive space for newcomers to join his tight-knit community of fans. Through his own harrowing battle with COVID, a move to the Mojave Desert, a socially distanced summer tour with over 50 performances around the country, and even his wedding day, Ezra never missed a performance, broadcasting without fail from wherever he found himself each night at 7pm ET.” We get Adam to discuss new music, influences, and more…

Photo credit: Michael Sparks-Keegan

1. Tell us a little about “All Right Today.” What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Wow, what an awesome question to start with! This is a song that represents our mantra that grassroots community has the power to overcome adversity, shape our culture, and change the world.  Our live and acoustic arrangements do a pretty good job of getting the message across i think, but in-studio we decided to dig deeper.  I kept using the word “village”  to guide out strategy on this.  I wanted it to feel like there was a global village supporting the words and message.  As you listen to the choruses you can hear about 15 voices harmonizing, which I love, but my favorite aspect of this recording is the percussion.  We used instruments and rhythms from all over the world and combined them together to further our metaphor.  If you look at the actual studio session it’s incredible, the sheer number of different drums and percussion instruments that are playing simultaneously, combining so many styles and sounds to create something to me, exemplifies the power of a diverse community.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I grew up around music.  My mom, Joanne Hammil, is a brilliant songwriter, community activist, and music educator, and there was always folk music playing in my house growing up. I began teaching myself how to play the guitar by learning a few chords and writing songs that I then had to figure out how to play smoothly.  My songwriting became the space in which I felt most comfortable in my own skin.  It’s how I would process the various things I was struggling to understand and it quickly began to feel like the place where I could be my best self. I grew up comfortably, in a little town outside of Boston.  Went to a nice little public High School, and a nice college.  I loved my time in each, but before graduating I felt like I owed it to myself to cultivate a broader perspective of the world.  I began seeking out experiential travel and volunteerism across the country, in South Africa, and Kosovo, but that stuff only lead me to the specific moment in which I decided to devote my life to music. I was working on a dairy farm up in Cookstown, Ontario… working from before sunrise to just before sundown every day.  I would write songs at night, and at one point I literally had a conversation with myself and agreed that even though it would probably mean subjecting myself to a life of struggle and poverty, from that night forward I would devote my entire self to being and artist. Never looked back.  No plan B.  It’s been ten times harder than I ever could have imagined, and I don’t regret a single moment… (ok, maybe there are a few moments along the way I’d take back if I could 🙂

3. Who would be your main five musical influences?

I was heavily inspired by bands that never played the same show twice. This included some of the jam bands centered around songwriting like The Dead and Phish, I especially loved seeing the Allman Brothers perform every summer, and have always wished I could have experiences Zeppelin and Hendrix live. That said, I consider myself a folk musician, and have always been enamored of artists who can take an audience on a journey within a song.  Some of these biggest influences have been Springsteen, Ani Difranco, The Band, and Leonard Cohen, and Greg Brown. I feel like our approach to connecting through live music, lives somewhere in the ether between all of these great artists, as well so many others I’ve had the privilege to experience live.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

I’m very lucky in that I already get to write songs with some of my favorites.  John Oates, and great Nashville writer Clint Daniels are my two favorites these days, and it’s hard to imagine getting to write with better. But man, if I could choose anyone to write a song with, I think a session with Springsteen would be my dream come true.

5. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Man, you are hitting my achilleas heel!  I am so inspired by so many different types of songs and songwriters, I really do consider myself a music mutt of sorts.  I honestly really struggle to answer this as i don’t think of myself as sounding like anyone but me, and that sound has continued to evolve and change as I have over the years.  I guess I would refer you back to my answer about those musical influences of mine, and if you really forced me to give you one name it maybe wouldn’t even be a musician. I am in awe of the way Vincent Van Gogh poured absolutely everything he was feeling and experiencing into his canvases.  There were so many subject matters and styles he drew from, but whether it was the awe in staring up at a starry night, or the humbling humanity in an old pair of work boots, I can’t look at one of his paintings without connecting to something that speaks to the heart of what it means to be alive.  That’s what I strive for musically every time I sit down to write and every time I walk out onto a stage to perform.

6. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Ha! another great question.  I am so lucky that i get to tour, not only with 3 of my favorite musicians, but also 3 of my closest friends.  We are an indie, grassroots band though, and with over 200 dates on our normal schedule there is not a lot of downtime. Our days usually consist of driving the van, loading into the club, scarfing down whatever healthy food we can get our hands on, jumping on stage for 2-3 hours, packing up, driving to the hotel, and if we’re lucky, we might have enough energy for a shower or a short whiskey together before crashing. When we find ourselves with the luxury of a day off on the road, we’ll usually spend time rehearsing or recording, ordering thai food, maybe watching a movie together, and above all else, catching up on sleep! We do sing together every day in the van, and although we love to do it, we’re almost always working on something to incorporate into our live show…

7. What inspired The Gathering Series and what motivates you to continue to perform every night to fans?

The first night we canceled our tour I found myself home on a Friday night for the first time since I could remember.  I felt scared… and isolated… needing to reach out in some tangible way.  Hadn’t done much of it before, but I decided to livestream, not so much to “perform” as to find grounding and connection within our incredible fan community. Hundreds joined me.  They made me feel better.  When we finished I told them “I’ll come back tomorrow if you come back tomorrow.”  Well, as I type this to you, in a few hours I will go live again for the 358th night in a row. The Gathering series has been one of the most inspiring things to ever happen to me as an artist.  We’ve reached millions of people, an insanely huge number compared with the crowds we were playing to before Covid.  I continue to approach each night, less as a performance, and more as a space to share the best and worst…the most honest parts of myself.  I have my bad days, as we all do, especially in the midst of this pandemic, but it’s the honest sharing of whatever I’m going through that helps me have control over my fears and doubts and reminds me that I’m not alone…

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I saw Nelson Mandela speak from a balcony in Cape Town, South Africa once.  I will never forget it, and will forever strive to live my life through the lessons his story and integrity has taught me. I met Pete Seeger once, who never once forgot his life’s mission, skipped the small talk, and challenged me not to let folk music die with his generation. Those are the 2 biggies for me… 

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I think music, like nothing else, reminds us that there is more about us that is the same than different.  I feel that every time I’m at a live concert and every time I play.  But that connection can be found everywhere, in everyone who works hard to have a positive impact, whether it’s sweeping a floor, teaching our kiddos, or curing cancer.  I could see myself inspired by many different paths, but that connection would have to be at the core of anything I put myself into…

10. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I always wonder if I had come up with a better name for my project, what might have transpired differently.  Even since we first started calling ourselves Adam Ezra Group, I felt like it was practical, but definitely not very exciting or cool. I wonder had we settled on “Ez and The Bandits,” “The Ramblers,” or better yet, “Metallica,” if our story might have been drastically different… 🙂

11. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Rolling Stones – Exile on Mainstreet. God, what a bizarrely chaotic and surreal journey that must have been.  So sloppy, raw, and brilliantly powerful.  I’d want to watch it all unfold…and then watch it again…

12. Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

Hugging the people I love. Shit, I miss hugging the people I don’t love. Yup, huggin… Thank you so much for taking the time to read a little bit about my story.  It’s been an honor to share it with you.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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