By: Mary Ellen Marks
I watch guitarist Adam Falcon as he plays a song for me. “October Falls” captures the beauty of the moment when he first fell in love with his wife Kate. His slight frame leans over his guitar as a few rows of his of his long braids topple over his face. Raw emotion oozes from the man and guitar. His power over the music has left me spellbound.
Adam had a good fortune as a teenager growing up in the early seventies. He took guitar lessons at the YMCA in Manhattan with Larry Lucie who used to play with Duke Ellington and Count Basie. He went on to study for three years with the infamous George Benson before George’s career took off. By the time George signed a record deal with Warner Brothers, Adam was ready for his own journey.
At twenty-one-years-old, Adam got a job with a group of four singers called Revelation and they toured with the Bee Gees. His greatest moment came six years later when the instrumental song he wrote “In Search of a Dream” was accepted by producer Arif Mardin for inclusion on George Benson’s Grammy-nominated album In Your Eyes. Adam became well-recognized in the music circuit. He worked with artists like Phyllis Hyman, Sophie B. Hawkins, Robert Palmer, Will Downing and Jonathan Butler. He also toured with Roberta Flack, someone he’d admired ever since his mother took him to see her in Central Park.
In 1988, Adam played in Europe with Jonathan Butler at Eric Clapton’s Twenty-fifth Anniversary. On the plane coming back, Adam made the decision to quit touring so he could focus on his songwriting. He blazed a trail, using his talents and the experience he learned from all those years on the road. “I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. I love where I am with the music. I know who I am as an artist and I’m growing. If people can walk away from hearing me play with a good feeling-the way I feel when I’m playing-then my job is complete.”
Adam’s musical style has two major influences - the music aired on WNEW-FM radian from 1968 to 1970 combined with the added the pulse of today’s music. With no definable genre, he has created a sound all his own- an eclectic mix of soul, rock & roll, country, jazz, and the blues.
Bohemian 959 is Adam’s third solo album. The three numbers reference the address of the house where he was raised in the Bronx. This record took seven years to make and is based upon stories about Adam’s life during that period. The song “Better Days” concerns an inspiring conversation Adam had with three firemen who volunteered to help after the collapse of the World Trade Center. “Waves” was influenced by the fact that Adam’s mother died before she knew his wife was pregnant. “I was in the Caribbean when my Mom passed. Before coming home for the funeral, I went down to the beach and felt I heard Mom’s voice speaking through the waves. It was the beginning of a song about one life going out and another life coming in.”
Since 2003, Adam has been teaching at the Rockland Conservatory of Music. His six-year-old daughter takes piano lessons there, as well. He loves the fact that it’s a community-based school, which offers scholarships, affordable lessons, and rehearsal and concert space. “Just to be around this environment of top-notch amazing teachers-it’s great to be part of it.”
Executive Director of the Rockland Conservatory of Music, Marigene Kettler, speaks of Adam’s success as a teacher. “Adam’s love of music and education of the guitar is so infectious that students and colleagues alike can’t help but be joyfully affected. There’s nobody who comes away from a concert or a conversation with Adam that isn’t grinning from ear to ear. He’s also the coolest guy I know.”
A ukulele leans against the fireplace in Adam’s living room. He bought it for his three-year-old son after the child crooned over it in a music store. Adam speaks of a time when he was his son’s age. My dad, who is from New Orleans, bought me a plastic guitar because I watched Chuck Berry perform on TV. Gene Autry was another one of Adam’s idols at that time. “I was obsessed with being a cowboy. When I saw Gene Autry on TV with his guitar and cowboy boots, I thought, ‘There it is. Two for one. I can be a cowboy and play guitar!’” As far as I can see, Adam has fulfilled his dream.