Last week I had the good fortune to open for guitarist Adam Rafferty who was performing for the Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club in Worthington Ohio. I would have dropped everything to see the show anyway but to be invited to play too was a real treat. I’ve reviewed Adam’s two most recent instructional DVD’s and spoken to him via email, but we’d never actually met before that evening.
I had between 15 and 20 minutes to perform before Adam, and chose to play four of my favorite pieces: Mercy Mercy Mercy (Joe Zawinul), Morning (Clare Fischer), Layover (Michael Hedges), and Linus & Lucy (Vince Guaraldi). The audience was largely made up of guitarists and they were very appreciative. I even heard someone exclaim “Nice!” during one of my tunes and I have to say, that little outburst really made me feel great and put me at ease! During intermission and after the show I met several members of the Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club and they were all great people. I hope to attend more of their events in the future.
Now, if you’ve seen Adam on YouTube, then you know that he’s a really fine player. But what you can’t see on the web is just what a fantastic performer he is. Adam was totally at home on stage and often made jokes or told stories as he introduced each song. His performance style really drew the audience in and created an intimate, lighthearted vibe. Several of his pieces have little audience participation sections in live performance that kept folks engaged. I don’t know if Adam has always been this good of a showman but I suspect his recent touring experiences with Tommy Emmanuel have helped him to sharpen this skill. He has certainly learned how to balance the elements of his show that impress guitarists with the ones that entertain mainstream audiences.
During the second half of the show I was asked to join Adam onstage for a couple of duets. Both of us have a background in jazz so we chose to perform “Tenor Madness” and “Autumn Leaves.” Adam is one a hell of a bebop player and tore up the changes. It’s hard to judge oneself in such situations, but I felt pretty good about my playing and was told afterward by guitarist Eric Loy that I “really held my own” during those numbers. Yay!
Behind the scenes Adam was down-to-earth and happy to chat with me during our down time. He also made sure to personally greet everyone who wanted to say hello after the show. I’m sure he won many new fans during the evening and will be around for many years to come as he continues to perform, teach, and entertain. Don’t miss him when he comes to your neck of the woods!