Adam Rafferty is a jazz guitarist-turned fingerstyle guitarist who has found huge success through YouTube, as an online guitar-coach, and as a touring performer. Check out his awesome fingerstyle arrangements of tunes by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, as well as jazz standards. Joe McMurray and Aaron Sefchick have the opportunity to talk with Adam about his journey, his internet success, his method of arranging for fingerstyle guitar, his gear, and his experiences with copyright law.

In part 2 of 2, Adam tells the guys about his Maton and Cole Clark guitars, his AER amp, and the rest of his gear.

Aaron and Joe are very interested in how Adam deals with copyright law as it applies to his YouTube videos of cover songs as well as his teaching business. He is incredibly open and informative!

Adam recounts his musical journey from his childhood and teenage years, to his classical training in college, his formation of a hip hop group, and his jazz studies with Mike Longo (pianist for Dizzy Gillespi).

Finally, Adam talks about life as a touring musician and how he practices and stays comfortable and confident on the road.

Find out more about Adam Rafferty at: or and on Facebook at He also hosts the Fingerstyle Guitar Hangout podcast.

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Welcome back to another episode of Fret Buzz The Podcast. Hi, I’m Aaron Sefchick

and every week together with my co-host Joe McMurray we talk music. Whether
that’s building guitars for the past 43 years with luthier Marc Beneteau on
episode 47 and 48 or talking with Dr. Shawn Purcell about jazz guitar and
higher education an episode 39 or maybe it’s Bass and Jam Bands with Randy
Nicklas or Synthesizers and Sampling with Paul Gaeta or if you are into
finger style guitar check out episode 28 and 29 with Dustin Furlow. We really
don’t stray away from anything here. We are pretty much all genres, all
instruments. We talk music. So follow along, subscribe if you like, with that,
let’s jump into part two with Adam Rafferty on Fret Buzz The Podcast.
You play Maton guitars right? Maton. And built in Australia right? I have
two of them but I only play one of them. One’s for back up. They’re really they
play heard they’re really hot like they very loud very loud yeah what did you do
that because did you get that guitar because that’s what Tommy was playing
tell me Emmanuel well sorta yeah I started with Taylor guitars my first
videos I’m playing that Taylor 314 I still have I still have those and I have
two of them and one of them sounds really good the others like okay Taylor
Taylor’s are like that they’re all kind of pretty good but if you’re lucky you
know one of them will just sound amazing but the pickups the pickups too soon
yes you know and they’ll tell you know it’s the best pickup in the world and I
was like guys it’s just not happening and so I was still in New York and I
went to Rudy’s music which was which was kind of a the new thanks yeah they they
only have a store now in Soho but they had one on 48th Street for a while and I
bought a bunch of archtop guitars from him and I knew the guys there and I I
said you know I’m thinking about getting a matin and the guy I can’t remember his
name Gordon Gordon from the acoustic room he
said you know there’s this new company called Clark check them out they’re
similar to matin and maybe they’ll give you maybe they’ll give you a deal or
maybe they’ll do an odorous matter so there were a few years I played call
Clark guitars coke and it ya think they were pretty good
but it was just that I don’t even think the guy who I worked with is working for
Col Clark I think they’ve had some personnel changes but there was a person
in charge of like giving me the guitar the guitar as I needed you know like
they gave me a guitar so like I don’t want to I don’t wanna say anything bad
about the company because like I think now the guitars are stellar and the
people are really cool but this one particularly guy I was dealing with
he just wasn’t giving me like a great guitar it was always like well we’ll
give you this demo model and then I’d play and like there’d be a loose brace
and something buzzing and be like man I need a smaller guitar you know I have
this dreadknot and my shoulders hurting I need like one of the little ones and
then he was like man we can’t just keep giving you guitars and you know I’d kind
of been rolling with them and then I got pissed I was like dude I’m not an 18
year old asking daddy for a graduation present I’m on stage getting my ass
whipped by Tommy Emmanuel yeah like in Bangkok he’s like whipping me I was like
so either you’re gonna step up to the plate and give me an ax you know or not
and then it was like a humming a hum in a hum and I said you know what just take
it it’s cool I’m gonna go buy what I need so I bought the maiden guitars and
and the guys from Aten they’re the nicest guys in the world but they’re
hilarious they contact me they’re like did you buy those guitars and I’m like
well if you gave them to me wouldn’t you know that you had given them to me of
course I I bought them you know I I bought them and they said would you like
to be a mating artist I said absolutely and so I’m on their website and
everything and I and I told them I said here’s my deal I said hook me up with if
I need a replacement pickup or you know if the if something goes south on the
guitar just just hook it up and and I said I have to tell people the truth if
there’s a situation where I’m gonna play in another guitar I speak only the truth
it takes too much energy to not play the guitar that feels right or lie or do any
of that you know oh geez I should play this guitar because the guys from the
company are gonna see me and the truth of it is I know that guitar that’s my
main one that’s like the tool that I’ve used now for 10 years onstage I know
what to expect out of that guitar and it totally I get my sound pretty much right
away onstage you know and it just behaves sounds good yeah humidity crack
say you bring it to somebody they glue it up frets are oh the need a fret job
you know I mean it’s got to put some work into it but the guitar is it’s
totally cool and so I I do a similar setup on stage as many of the
fingerstyle guys I got some pedals you know nothing fancy a little bit of
reverb I go into an aar amp and then I do a DI out of the amp so that’s my
little monitor onstage the sound in the house
I play 30 minutes they die not even 30 minutes the soundcheck they dial it in
and say we’re good to go hmm one of the main things that I’ve
found and this is personal I mean I do this
thing where I no longer play with the phone tech I talked about that quite a
bit because I always have this feeling like I should which is totally stupid
you know because other guys can so I should be able to do it but that was a
that was a sticking point at soundcheck sit there was so much screwing around
and I realized I wasn’t happy with what was going on here and the minute I
changed to like a nice fleshy paw I literally I plugged the guitar and I
play my skin out and and or isn’t she lovely the sound is there in the house I
get my sound rattling mmm so acoustically they are not the most
awesome sounding guitars you know I didn’t record my last CD with it I
recorded with a handmade it’s our with some nice mics but live it’s awesome
does does the job and I so when you ask me to did Tommy say anything I had my
cold Clark and I was on this gig in Bangkok with Tommy I mean I was so
nervous with Tommy Michael Vick’s Joe Robinson anyway it was it was a festival
and so Tommy was in his hotel room he was long gone but I was kind of hanging
out with Michael fix and Joe Robinson and we were we were there I said ok
let’s do a shootout let’s let’s really hear what these guitars sound like just
with an amp and the maintance at that time the maintance just sounded better
plugged in than them the co Clarke right right there we just tested it and I said
ok I’m I’m done with this now I think they’ve they’re comparable you know we
just had on Mark Bennett oh of Benneteau guitars
he’s on episodes it was late 40s episodes or benedetto no Manito
that’s all economy what Don Ross plays ah he’s a Canadian luthier and I got to
play one of those recently and it was just it sounds so good
it’s so responsive compared to my I love my tailor
it’s just not even the same it’s hardly comparable yeah I feel so I have this
like little conflict it’s not really a conflict right up the road from me
I bet a guy at a festival in Germany turns out he lives 12 minutes away from
me is awesome genius nylon string guitar builder I mean the
stuff he builds is amazing and he’s so he’s I don’t have it here I gave it back
to him but I’m gonna get it back he built like kind of a crossover nylon
guitar with a cutaway and pickup I’m going dude you’re amazing but like I
just don’t play nylon string guitar and he can’t understand like why is it so
different you know and I’m like it’s a totally different beast yes I said we
can we can have a beer we can hang you know let’s let’s let me help you with
your website let’s like his name is Daniels of Colley
he builds amazing stuff but it’s it’s not just I’m down a nylon string guy
yeah there’s they feel so weird though there was when you pluck the string like
it’s got so much more give yeah it just feels I feel so sloppy and the and the
neck is so much wider that’s yeah and the thing is I can if I play it for long
enough I can kind of go wow I can really get
into this warm jazzy thing but then I’m thinking it’s not enough bite for for a
concert for the way I play like I need a little bit of bite on the sound it would
just be nice music but it would be too too much like cocktail hour or at least
the way I play you know yeah I do love the sound I you know yeah I’m good thing
too classical guitar is something I do from time to time if you have you ever
seen that video sig there’s a great video of Segovia and he like he’s like
talking about how it can sound like a cello or a violin depending on how you
pluck the string and where you look the string in which Dragan was like oh my
god he’s yeah well but that’s how that’s how you got it that’s how you got a
thing it’s totally how you got it thinking if you
when I arrange it’s it’s a different version of that but yeah I could totally
I could totally understand totally understand that yeah this is its
beautiful instrument I’ve got one sitting there and I just look at it and
wish I was better at it did you ever hear Earl Klugh oh yeah I’m very
familiar with Earl Klugh yeah he’s from Atlanta mm-hmm and he was that was one
of the first solo jazz records I had he played a nylon string which I grew up
with wishful thinking great aha I don’t know if it was wishful
thinking something midnight guitar or late night late night guitar yeah yeah
it had ain’t misbehavin solo cool yeah that sort of kind of went in the I think
that’s somewhere somewhere inside here in the you see em mm-hmm yeah I am
really curious as so we recently had a copyright lawyer on the show to talk
about well trade she’s a trademark lawyer but we were just getting into the
legalities surrounding the internet and music and that episode should be out I
mean by the time this episode comes out that will be out but um I’m interested
as to what hurdles you’ve had to jump over in order to publish not only
publish on youtube but cover songs but you know you’ve put out entire albums
like I remember Michael mm-hmm like what how does that work what are you okay it
gives it’s two separate questions albums and YouTube and there’s a third one DVDs
yeah lay it on me and there’s a fourth one printing music hmm right yeah like
your website where you’ve none of the tabs written in but you’re somehow
allowed to show it on the well on screen I’ll explain everything I’ll explain
everything well I don’t I don’t know if I’m allowed to show it on the screen Shh
here goes
now I mm hmm I’m only familiar with the laws in the states regarding CDs and
music publishing I’m not so familiar with how it goes down in Europe now
chances are if I put CDs out I’ll just keep doing it the way I’ve done it there
is a website I can check it here called I think it’s called a song file song
file calm and that is was formerly known as what’s called the Harry Fox agency so
to do CDs you need to get what’s called mechanical licenses and that that cites
song file has a lot of them not all of them but a lot of them and so very often
they’ll ask you if you find that say you find your your song on the song you’ve
done like maybe my Michael Jackson record you know Billie Jean okay and it
says how long is your performance you say 4 minutes and 34 seconds how many
CDs are you gonna make a thousand press a thousand and it does a calculation and
you get help chances are it’s going to be about 70 bucks for that that
something like that and so to do my record I remember Michael with all these
Michael Jackson or Barry Gordy or the guy who wrote thriller who’s a guy wrote
thriller what’s his name rod tempered s’en so to do all those tunes you know I
just had to kind of configure this thing on sonic files you know pay it and you
get your mechanical licenses and then when you go to a CD pressing place like
disc makers they say hey you need to you need to show us that you paid or that
you have the rights to put a do CD with these songs that so you have to sort of
somehow show them I don’t know what the current thing is if you mail them the
PDFs or just check a box I don’t know and legally if you go and press another
thousand you should probably go back and pay for another another thousand which I
can’t remember if I’ve done that I’ll get around to it if I haven’t but you
know like then if you’re sort of not a Britney Spears or one of them you know
if you’re just pressing a thousand CDs you know people are not so exact they’re
not so but that’s called mechanical licenses now I’ve had to go for tunes
like summertime I can’t make you love me the chameleon by Herbie Hancock maybe
one other I had to kind of go searching because they weren’t on this site song
file I had to kind of go somewhere and the line I was tuned by Lonnie Smith
decided to do a little digging and make sure that I paid the people for the
licenses so that was that now it got interesting okay YouTube YouTube is just
I mean the way YouTube was made it was like made to be the biggest copyright
infringement platform you know like how could they just make it without the
safeguards in place but they did and then most of the publishers somehow they
got on board and got some sort of agreement and they have their listening
software so if I play a tune by the Beatles sooner or later they’re like
little listening software will say oh you’re playing a tune by the Beatles no
problem we’re gonna run ads over it and the
Beatles are going to get their thing so I don’t really need to deal with that my
Hotel California was zapped off Hotel California is a tune that you can’t do
anything easy I saw it before they took it down hmm nah I have it honest I have
it on a secret hidden Vimeo site I might just put it up on my website on a little
blog page yeah and put it in the title so at least it’ll get some SEO and then
people can come and see it but I don’t I don’t even want to teach it on study
with Adam because what if you learn it you say cool I want to put my video up
on YouTube then everybody’s screw it it’s just gonna keep getting taken off
off YouTube and so then the interesting thing was DVDs
because in 2009 I got the permission to do the first Stevie Wonder finger style
DVD and I don’t know have you seen those Joe I’ve seen that they exist yeah yeah
yeah some I haven’t actually about that I mean who buys DVDs anymore but I you
know I made actual DVDs and little printed booklets and so to make a DVD or
some kind of stand-alone video with music in it you need what’s called sync
rights right but to print the booklet you need what’s called print rights so I
approached EMI at the time and they said sure no problem
Stephen Ward I said they were like oh great yeah go ahead and do it so we’re
so easy and then I went to how Leonard who has the print rights and how Leonard
said cool you got the sync rights no problem you may pay us this much past
this much paid all my stuff up front I said yeah I’m gonna press a thousand of
them yeah I’m I’m actually behind on my sync retro LT payments that’s another
thing one of my many the invisible tasks of office work of a musician I got it I
got to do that and so I was like wow that was easy and then I did you know
isn’t she lovely and people went bonkers on that video and so I said maybe I
could do a second Stevie Wonder and so they said sure no problem same thing I
just rolled out I did a second DVD and that was that was a really cool period
of my life because it was actually way less intense work than the website now
study with Adam I just had this thing and I got a little shipping company in
New York that would just ship out DVDs to people it was very you know cool
little mail-order thing that I had going and I was just playing my gigs and then
Billie Jean came along with the video and I said oh man people love this I’m
gonna do a Michael Jackson DVD yeah my know what and then
I said what about and I asked them several times at that point they were
Sony no no Michael Jackson Tunes and then I realize oh let me I got some
Beatles tunes here Beatles nope so Wow I got this and so now with the
Michael Jackson I said well what about if I did some Jackson 5 songs I mean
what yeah that doesn’t work like the tunes Berry Gordy and you know cuz I had
I’ll be there and maybe it’s like I fleshed it out with some of those
Jackson 5 tunes and that was not really what I wanted to do I wanted I wanted to
do Billie Jean on the DVD everybody wanted it I could have sold them like
hotcakes I’m not sounding very musical right now
I’m sending more like a business guy but I wanted to make that DVD and so it got
tougher and tougher to communicate and get DVDs and I said this just isn’t
gonna work I said maybe I’ll do a Brazilian one now the Moscone on a girl
from Ipanema and a few others No and so I didn’t I didn’t even go so far
as is talking about the print rights now what’s interesting here now this might
sound arcane to everybody who’s listening because you think DVD huh
everything’s online now but the idea with sync rights that I heard this is
just hearsay but this is what I heard is that you know they don’t even want to
deal with like a fingerstyle guitar guy who’s gonna sell a few $35 DVDs like
they don’t want to waste their time dealing with me they want to be like
with the next Jim Carrey movie where he’s dancing like a buffoon in a disco
with Billie Jean playing and they’re talking about like a zillion dollar deal
like that’s what they want to be working on or if Britney Spears covers I love
rock and roll by Joan Jett or whatever you know I that that’s those are the big
things so that they didn’t even get back to me on half the stuff hmm and so now a
lot of guitarists so that’s the sink rights a lot of guitarists online are
making a huge mistake by printing tabs
I read everything about that you’re not allowed to do it you’re just not allowed
to do it if you didn’t compose the tune you can’t sell your arrangement of it
like my tablatures that go with the Stevie Wonder tabs they had to turn it
around in such a way they said well you’re gonna fill out a w-9 you’re going
to be employed by Stevie Wonder to write tabs he owns them but you have the right
to sell them so it had to be this twisted thing for it to all legally lay
right you can’t even though I have tabs on my
computer of every you know the things that I’ll do at workshops and but and
here’s the thing the way that I said this sent the movie companies they don’t
want to deal with the small little fish plus they’re going on YouTube the print
companies have been so slow to get onboard that they go out of their way to
penalize people legally and financially who are selling tablatures you know so
that’s who you have to worry about they’ll come after you I’ve had pretty
well known fingerstyle guys come to me write me an email Adam I don’t know what
to do I’m in a panic I make my living selling tabs off my website and now the
publishers told me I have to take everything down I have to pay a penalty
I don’t know what I’m going to do I might have to go working at Starbucks
I’m talking about like famous guys and they say you must know about this I say
yeah I don’t I didn’t get in that business that’s a dangerous business you
cannot sell you can’t even give them away for free it’s not it’s really
messed up and it’s it’s basically because they just didn’t get on board
they wanted to hold out for so long and say no we’re gonna insist that people
pay for the the music book at the Music Store and they just were unrealistic
it’s like dudes we’re in the world of like everybody can make a PDF and upload
it to a sharing site and you know to a guitar Pro file and like
you’re just holding to your arcane way of doing things so so that’s a different
right the print so the print rights sink rights or video
mechanical rights and basically I’ve taken a little bit of a gamble with my
school and I maybe shouldn’t say this publicly but here goes I’ll say I don’t
sell any individual instruction I don’t sell instruction to Billie Jean
I sell a membership you can come into my school and the publishers might go well
that really doesn’t hold a whole lot of water and I’ll say well if legally if I
have to take Billie Jean off I’ll take it off and the school can still stand
and I’m that’s not a standalone thing and then the publishers I’ve even had
some publishers come to me and say well you know why don’t you do a book for us
so that you can do it legally and I said well actually I don’t give any tabs away
from my site so the print guys I keep them out of the conversation and I’m
probably too small a fish to fry although it could be that it’s not a
hundred percent kosher it really could be and if I think about it sometimes it
keeps me up at night and they might not stay up there forever the cover tunes
just might not stay up there forever hmm I don’t know uh sounds like that you
know you got call now in the next five hours and get you know but go on to
Adams Satan no no I gotta go on no I’m promoting you yeah yeah I don’t brother
it sounds funny like act now so so yeah I don’t know where that’s all heading
and I don’t think a company as big as like true fire or somebody would take
the chance that I’m taking I might be doing something really stupid and
honestly my plans for the future are to do less cover songs and more originals
and kind of like how to how to do stuff I don’t know blues or how to solo on
changes or techniques or you know I’d like to I’d
like to build up a repertoire of lessons that can’t be taken away from me so
until now it’s worked but it kind of freaks me out if I if I have too much
time alone and I start spooking myself and thinking about it but I’m only
showing the videos you know and we’ll see we’ll see I mean nobody’s come and
said you have to take those videos down and I would tell them I’m only showing
people where to put their fingers you know well so we’d have to see where a
discussion would go from there but I did that basically the whole the
idea of studying with Adam was the the germ of it was me not getting the rights
to the Billy gene DVD I said ha people want this lesson how can I get it out
there you know without giving it away on YouTube for totally free which some
people say oh just give it away for free I didn’t want to do that that’s the
that’s the best explanation of this stuff of I’ve received so thank you
oh good good yeah yeah I was really wondering cause yeah every video you put
up it you know it’s obvious I have liked for anybody watching like here’s my
sunny study sheet and I had one that did right in everything myself
right right right sucks that was an idea yeah that was an idea from you know a
clever a clever guy who had invited me for a concert in Germany he says men
people want to print stuff out just do a blank sheet and let them write it in
right oh man cause I think it’s useful because the
act of writing it I think I digest it better
mmm I’m actually kind of I have my own way of writing me makes it clear to me
hmm what I’m doing you know sometimes I’ll write things a little differently
than your regular tab and sometimes I’ll I like to highlight I have the system of
in tabal I’ll put roots in squares I’ll put thirds and diamonds
fits in circles and sevenths in a little triangle OCO i do stuff like that to
help me understand like what the map where the different chord tones are in
the tab because it’s you know it’s not as clear as treble clef Hubert staff in
general that’s that’s that’s cool then great yes I that seems to work very well
and by the way if a company held me at gunpoint and said you have to take your
lessons off off our site I would either give it I put the whole thing up for
free on YouTube or do an opt-in give lesson number one away for free and then
have some have them opt in and get the rest of the lessons I’d still utilize
that yeah so uh I have no idea where that’s going
I mean it’s not it’s not a hundred percent kosher as I said not to not to
totally derail what you were saying about your roots and thirds and
everything yeah it’s it’s something I can smooth myself if I think about it
it’s not a hundred percent it ain’t totally right you know it’s
kind of like declaring expenses on you taxes that ain’t really expenses you
know it’s like you get away with it but will you on the edge noloty edge client
I’m just doing meals is that’s one of the weirdest to me the way I’m declared
you know that’s business expense mmm bought a drink for a client food for the
client mmhmm yeah weirds me out yeah I guess the only other question
that I had is how you started in guitar oh yeah have you played any other
instruments or was it like do you remember getting your first guitar and
how that whole like because I was looking for that on your on your website
but I didn’t get any intern in terms of like how you became to be within and as
you explained it on your own your website bf versus AF before fingers yeah
so how did in terms of before the whole New York thing and you
laying out how did how did you get because I know there are a lot of our
listeners you know they’re they’re starting out and probably wondering how
you got into the whole thing in the first place
mm-hmm okay my dad was a pretty good guitar player and strumming some finger
picking and singer and he had this big ol Martin d-28 and man I’ve owned that
guitar from time to time and then he always wants it back it’s gone back and
forth a couple times and I can remember being two three years two three four
years old and him opening the case and this thing just seemed bigger than life
because you know I was this little guy and then this d-28 sar big and just the
smell of the wood the plush blue velvet in the case and just you know him just
strumming that thing and the sound just hitting me and singing my dad’s a pretty
good singer you know he’s like his he’s Irish
well he’s not from Ireland but his you know his grandparents were and so
there’s that sort of real there’s this Irish thing when Irish people sing in
tune it’s got a lyricism to it that’s it’s just that thing you know it’s
somehow it goes really goes to the heart and so he was he’s about 18 it he’s
gonna be 80 soon so he was like in the 60s you know with Simon or Garfunkle and
Beatles and a little bit of Buddy Holly and and it just hit me and I just said I
want to play guitar it was just always and then I had little plastic toy
guitars and you know age five I got guitar lessons from a great player named
woody man now I don’t know if you’ve heard of woody man but if you man with
two ends look him up he’s on Stephin Grossman’s DVDs and he’s
like he’s a solo blues acoustic guy sings also he
he could play jazz I think he even played clarinet at Juilliard but he got
really into Reverend Gary Davis and these like old they sound like older
blues guys but they were around and in the 50s 60s and 70s but their style you
hear it and you think it’s from further back so it was kind of happening
alongside the same time as Miles Davis and John Culkin but Reverend Gary Davis
and guys like that and so I started with a great teacher and I learned chords to
Beatles songs and he would bring in these little tablatures of finger
picking kind of blues things and I think at the time he was like learning from
Reverend Gary Davis or maybe just a few years before and I loved going to my
lessons with him and I studied with him from like age five to age 11 straight I
mean every week going for the lessons and then he he was a very gentle teacher
and he’d work on a little bit of improvising or show me hey let me show
you a major 7th chord when you play this too and play a major 7th chord yourself
sort of pushing me a little bit into a jazzy direction and then so that’s how I
started that’s how it started and then I kind of did a typical semi
typical trajectory that a lot of guitar players do got it’s a rock-and-roll
about electric guitar check it out Zeppelin stuff by ear
wasn’t taking lessons because I didn’t really know how can anybody teach me
this stuff anyway I was picking solos off records and jamming with my friends
and then did that for a couple years and then kind of juice you know this is kind
of going nowhere I got I got somewhere but now it’s going nowhere again so I
went for some classical guitar lessons and that was the rudest awakening yeah
that had to be I mean for gone with any kind of hand position you want to a
teacher putting you in the right position and having to read music that
was like going to the just without anesthesia you know I mean
it was just horrible but I wanted to do it and I loved my classical guitar
teacher they really loved that guy and I did that night I went to I got into
music college I was never a great classical guitarist but I learned a lot
from it I got some sort of concept and hand position and I did one year at SUNY
Purchase which was the name of the college State University in New York in
the classical guitar department and it was just a bad fit it was just a bad fit
like it was so cliquey and I just didn’t get along with the teacher and some of
the guys there were really talented classical guys and I was like this blues
rock funk something heading to jazz kind of guy who was doing classical guitar
but like I enjoyed classical guitar in this sort of little bubble like wow I
really like listening to John Williams play Bach but for me to do it 24/7
wasn’t right and then I quit and I became a composition major and then life
took a total left turn my best friend and I accidentally formed a hip hop
group I was a rapper I quit playing guitar for a few years because I was
totally confused what happened was we were in a band rehearsal and we were
goofing on rapping he was beatboxing and I was goofing on rapping before you know
everybody’s playing everybody else’s instruments and goofing around and the
guy because we had a little pop tin in college and the bandleader said you guys
sound awesome why don’t you get really like get one tune together and do it on
the gig we were like really and so we did it and what happens I mean it was
like you know like something from a movie everybody loves us and is just not
really into the band yeah and chicks and the attention and it was the whole talk
man if you heard these guys and it caught fire it just it caught fire one
two in turn two two two two turn two three and then we quit the band but
hired all the guys back because there weren’t enough musicians at school only
we were in and that went on for a couple years and
so like now when I do the beatboxing and the stage stuff that was kind of
informed from all those experiences and that was a wild experience I mean that
we did we did a lot of crazy stuff we did a lot of crazy shows and crazy areas
and I mean it was it was right around the same time that the Beastie Boys came
out we were we were live and my friend is a killer drummer and you know we we
had a band and it was it was cool was that your full-time job then no no I was
in college I was about 18 18 19 18 19 years old for that period and I was
really in between having a weird in-between phase with guitar which oddly
enough I’m kind of feeling like I’m a little strange kind of limbo now similar
like not sure what’s coming next so and then so I had this it was this dr.
Jekyll and mr. Hyde you know I had this thing and I was getting lots of showered
with attention the girls loved it and it was cool and we record and have a good
time that was this thing that was running and the musician and me was just
dying for some real music I shouldn’t say real music but dying for
some music with melody and you know playing and I got into jazz and that’s
when I found my teacher Mike Luongo who ended up being like the super
heavyweight teacher of my life a lot of which I’m trying to teach the concepts
to you guys on the side and then at one point he he he put it to me he said man
I don’t have enough time for people who are full of crap man you got to decide
like either you’re playing jazz and that’s your thing or get lost because he
wanted he wanted to put the fire to me and so I quit the band with my friend
and it was terrible it was like a divorce man he’s my best friend and he
has a great house music band now they’re they’re doing great they tour all over
the place and if if worlds collide properly I take my telly out and I play
rhythm guitar with them incognito you know very cool yeah yeah
it’s fun you just slip into my like Nile Rodgers
kind of thing you know I don’t really put that on my schedule but that’s sort
of I get to connect with him and and do something a little different and which
is crazy because we’re both New York guys but now that I’m here he’ll say man
I have a gig in Hamburg can you make it it’s like whoever thought you know your
friend from when you’re a teenager you’re gonna be meeting in Europe
somewhere like so yeah that’s that was the past so it’s this I would say I have
very much this pendulum swing between a more showbiz kind of thing and then a
yearning for a deep musical thing and I’m kind of swinging back towards
wanting a deep musical thing but unfortunately the showbiz stuff works
with the audience the Beatles medley works superstition works you know it
functions you get the people and if you go man I’m gonna improvise some obscure
jazz thing it’s like spinal tap at the at the great adventure where they’re
playing jazz and no one’s listening you know you know so but yeah it started
with my dad playing guitar cool very cool thank you
yeah that’s awesome we’ve so many people have such a similar story about going
rock in the morning something a bit more whether chant where whether it’s
challenging or more you know formal and they go either jazz or classical and
then you tent people tend to swing back yeah you know yeah that’s where I meant
to I’m I look I still make time to play to practice jazz specifically but I I
need all the different types of music yeah and I realized I I don’t listen to
enough music that’s that’s a weak thing because I just get so I have Spotify I
don’t fire it up enough I get so like overwhelmed with all the ads on YouTube
I’m like man I don’t want to see everything you know I don’t only want to
look in the rear view mirror and see stuff I’ve looked at it I wanna I want
to you know find some new stuff but I I must listen to more music because I’m
always happy when I listen to music always much happier ones needs you know
cuz if I just get into my lessons and hearing myself practice all the time it
gets pretty dingy and dusty yeah I use a listening guide with my student
and everybody has to listen to it kind of on a whim what I pick but I’ll base
it on student what they seem to have liked and I’ll try to guide them in that
direction and cool mr. boundaries but I I try to make all
my students listen and in the same way a lot of times though like we heard this
and I’m like never heard it but I’ll write it down and I’ll listen and no add
it to the add it to the list if I like it and yeah
else I look at the I was just down at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and uh-huh end
of April and I just like I’m still going through the schedule all the people I
didn’t see and the people I saw and I just go and listen to some of their
songs to see if it’s something am I like mm-hmm
excellent excellent that’s great won muchmusic out here oh yeah it’s so easy
could get you just type it in you know whatever your music player is or YouTube
and you can mean here yeah we’re gonna go see snarky puppy next and a couple
weeks that they’re playing nearby and my girlfriend’s she’s not a professional
musician but she’s like in her bones she’s a musician she plays piano she
sings pretty good and I said come on let’s go check these guys out you know
like go to a live show and just go bananas so we’re gonna check them out
and there’s a couple fest big outdoor festivals here nearby I got to see deep
purple a few years ago with Steve Morris plans great I got to see sting last
summer great you know these the professional uber professional seasoned
rock guys stayin Paul McCartney that level deep purple what they’re so great
when you see them live they’re just so great when you see them live they really
you know they’re not they’re not famous for no reason you know they’re just
sting we’re singing perfectly in tune and now that I never really thought
about it you watch them singing these police
songs with these total crazy reggae bass lines you go you have to practice that
you know like spirits in the material world
that that verse yeah something like that and he’s singing right over the top of
it smooth as silk now yeah man yeah and the songs one after another great songs
I never thought I was a sting thing I mean I was like timid one song after the
others yeah I really want to see rush I’ve been that was the next luck that
was the first live concert I ever went to uh 15 years old that’s awesome that’s
cool well we all played air drums – yeah – the Phils and Tom Sawyer
have you seen that uh the new documentary that’s out on Netflix about
rush I saw a previous one where Neil Peart was talking a lot about his wife
and kid dying maybe that’s now on Netflix I saw that even there’s the same
one he does talk about that yeah yeah I got I’ve been listening to rush like all
week because of yes that cuz I’ve bet I’d like had to watch it I’ve watched
like 15 minutes while I ate and I’d be they be talking about a certain period
in their career and I didn’t like okay I gotta go listen to this 80 stuff that
I’ve never heard from Rush then yeah yeah somehow I didn’t even realize that
existed they were killer man and the cool thing is my girlfriend she really
likes interesting music you know I can play a tune like YYZ for her and she’ll
just like rock out to it you know seven eight Bam Bam Bam and she’ll go bananas
she’ll go totally bananas like that’s that’s kind of nice yeah they were great
they were absolutely great yeah they were absolutely great yeah definitely
need someone on my bucket list yeah yeah they’re cool well you’re not gonna see
them anymore they’re done they’re done they’re never gonna come back
no I’ve never come back Neil’s done Neil is done well nature will have a change
of heart someday touring is hard work man yeah you know i when when I’m home
it’s like a plane on the ground when I’m on
tour it’s like the plane is at cruising altitude but always getting up to
cruising altitude it’s toll change of lifestyle you know it’s it’s and I’ve
never of course toured on the level of somebody like rush that’s hard work yeah
time zones everything logistics how do you do you practice a lot while you’re
touring yeah I mean it’s it’s demanding music I mean you can’t really you gotta
be very uh on top of it to be able to go out and perform so it’s
not like playing rhythm guitar or something or even jazz where you can
kind of fudge the it’s not as precise in a lot of ways well you know I had
something in my playing changed over the last couple years I sort of got this
mental picture it I do practice a lot when I’m on tour because I want to be
first of all I have the downtime I’m alone I could practice on the train it’s
quiet and practice in the hotel mic my guitar so not a lot of guitar and I know
that my number one job is to be on stage that night and do a great show there’s
nothing else like email is secondary everything else the second is my number
one job is that whereas when I’m home there’s you know like we’re doing a
podcast now you might have this you might have bad yeah there could be
several things going on so when when I’m on tour that that’s a big difference
mentally is that I’ve got to kill it on on stage so there’s a different
orientation then the first several years that I played finger style I felt like I
had to practice for hours and hours and hours to get my chops up and and get
everything cooking right and to get everything to hook up and I sort of said
to myself I said you know that this I can’t sustain this way of playing
it’s it’s not sustainable I want to be like Oh like a drummer or a bass player
who can just pick up their instrument and play I don’t want to be like the
guitar player who has to get his chops like really cooking before he plays you
know what I mean mm-hmm absolutely like a drummer can just say hey man cool
let’s play and he just starts playing and I said I want my playing to be more
like that and so I had to kind of change some things around technically so that I
would find the most reliable angles and ways of the arrangement and muting of
strings so now my concert repertoire the stuff that I played a lot over and over
and over again and I recently had to kind of I always have to be on top of
superstition like what’s what’s happening with that one particularly
when there’s bass runs because if you’re not using any picks or fingernails you
get it can be very thumpy and you need the clarity and that’s that’s tricky but
you don’t want to tighten up when you when you play it but I I don’t want it
to be that I have to practice on ten hours a day to be able to play I strut I
struggle with that now I feel like you know I have a show tomorrow with a jazz
duo and mm-hmm like I need to run every song at least once in the week leading
up to then it’s a lot of work when that’s one of the shows I’m doing and I
had two totally different sets the past few days well yeah you knit for next
week it’s I feel like I’m just but I feel like I’m gonna get over that hump
like I’ve gotten over that hump with a lot of my older repertoire fingerstyle
and newer jazz repertoire I still have to that’s just a question of doing it
enough silly you know I want to make sure I remember the changes yeah that’s
that’s a question of doing it enough it just has to be saved so you’re not
thinking about it and then it’s in your body you know if I if I go to play a
jazz standard like all the things you are it’s it’s in the cells of my body
I’m not thinking about muscle memory yeah yeah
yeah cool I just don’t have that that’s not my upbringing I was a pic ID and me
too you’re picking until recently me two years me too man I mean I did classical
but I mean I played I didn’t play anything with my fingers and I was only
doing flat pick yeah I did I did hybrid picking a lot but jazz standards but now
it’s like on the acoustic guitar I soon as I use the pick it sounds horrible
like it’s tinny sounding compared no right
especially when I plugged in like I’ll play Angelina from Tommy uh-huh
like that’s one of the few plot you know pick songs I do uh-huh acoustically and
I’m like I have to like rework my entire EQ on my board and everything I know I
know and that’s why when I was saying I stopped playing with the thumb pick I
just started going with the fingers cuz I get the sound it might not have the
bite in the excitement but I I don’t have that aura that sounded oh my god
you just have to find the way that works for you I mean it sounds so cliche you
know but all I can say is I’ve tried other people’s solutions and it just
doesn’t work it just doesn’t work he got it because you’re wired we’re all wired
with this lifetime of experiences and and influences that’s it’s a unique
combination you know you’ll never arrive at the same conclusion that somebody
else did you know you got it you got it you I mean some drummers hold the stick
like that you know this I don’t know what they do like this thing and the
other guys are like this and you gotta find what works for you yeah unless
you’re Neil Peart and you do both hey right it was fun I did a gig with the
group the other day I’m trying to get a little bluesy Boogaloo band off the
ground I don’t I don’t know if it’s gonna get off the ground I still have to
see and after years I mean years of picking where I held the pick like this
it didn’t feel right I started ahold of it like this George Benson Patton
curled up in the other no idea why that feels right now well it’s weird you know
because I guess it’s informed by the finger style like I’m I’m like I hear
the truth now with a clean guitar sound I’m not trying to cover it up I’m not
trying to roll the treble off what is the truth of what’s happening reoriented
me I don’t know if that makes any sense – oh yeah meaning what’s really
happening with the sound here when the pic is hitting the strings yeah I mean
Tommy he can get the warmest softest sound from the thumb pick you can strum
he is such control with that tool and the best concert is when you’re hanging
with the backstage and he’s just running tunes one after the other three feet
away from it’s warm it’s punchy it’s flawless it’s it’s you know it’s like
classical guitar you go on man is he’s got his hand to the side how is he doing
these arpeggios like so clear this fast mean it’s just he’s genius that’s he’s a
freak well thank you very much Adam that’s Ben apologize thank you I really
appreciate it thank you so much this is Ben cool I hope I hope people hang with
the conversation this is cool yeah this has been wonderful and uh I’ve been
watching your videos for like hours hours and hours so like it’s funny to
actually be talking to you I feel like I have talked to you excellent
we want to you want to plug your website again yeah certainly
Adam Rafferty dot-com that’s like the sort of blog and you know like every
musician has their dear website and people can go there and download all
kinds of free goodies and you’ll see when you go to the front page I don’t do
a whole lot of like oh I’m so great and I’m on tour I just I just want people to
grab the little free blues tablature Bradley and if they go to the lessons
page there’s all kinds of stuff there 3-3 except they got to give me
dress haha okay so and then study with nano is the site where I have all the
many more videos where you’re on a joke where you can learn Billy gene and all
these toons step by step and students can upload videos to me and I give a
personal video review once a month which is a lot of work but I really try to
make it like a real teaching site not only a Netflix style site so there’s a
Netflix portion but then there’s a real communication portion where I get to see
students play you know so that’s study with Adam calm and there’s a free 14-day
trial there for whoever wants to check that yeah excellent
LLO in the podcast the podcast it’s just felt the finger style guitar hang out
you can find it on iTunes or stitcher awesome
yeah great guys thank you so much for inviting me this is really cool yeah
thank you thanks Cole we really appreciate it
all right thanks thanks you guys soon good one okay

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