Connecting acoustic folk with rock 

Boston's Adam Ezra links solo and band careers in one for multi-layered show

Who: The Adam Ezra Group

When: Saturday, April 22

Where: Whistler Concert Series mainstage

Where: Skier’s Plaza

Admission: Free

First there was Adam Ezra the soloist, then his folk music was ramped up with a full band, fusing acoustic-driven sounds with rock, world beat and even a little country. The result became Boston’s Adam Ezra Group.

A handful of years later, the two entities still carry on, most recently exercised in last fall’s release of two albums, the band album Crawl and Ezra’s solo album Chain .

"The band takes my little folky tunes and turns them into these exciting songs," said the singer-songwriter. "I never know what is going to happen to it. It’s something I really love. I like to keep both elements in my life. They help me a grow as a musician and person."

Personal growth was the inspiration behind his writing. While most travelers log their memories in a journal, Ezra instead picked up a guitar.

After studying at Colgate University in up-state New York, the geography major from a small New England town realized his company of predominately Caucasian and upper class crowds was not reflective of the world he was studying.

He moved to South Africa and lived with a "coloured" family of mixed descent. Seeing first hand the effects of apartheid had a profound impact on his music. In his second album, Tumble Down Slow , he plays his own version of the South African national anthem.

"The father and mother were part of the apartheid coalition," he said of his host family. "It was huge once Mandela got into power."

Still not satisfied with his perspective of the world, he moved on.

"Most people are born into the world having to work and work hard," he said. "I wanted to understand what that was about."

On a 12-family dairy farm in Ontario he worked as a farm labourer from 3 a.m. to 7 p.m. Here his first serious songs emerged, including The Battles of Ray Thomas and The Corn Song.

"Those experiences still linger in my songs today," he said.

Politically-driven lyrics began to appear in his works: his mother’s folk music and political activism finally taking root.

Relief work in Kosovo followed, along with his political-comments in songs like The Western Man Crawl and The Basement Song from his newest album Chain .

"Political writing is becoming more and more a part of what I do," he said. "My mom was a folk musician and political activist. A lot of folk and political music is kind of preachy – war is bad, love is good. I feel this is a very simplistic way of looking at things and not very helpful."

Now, fortunately or unfortunately (Ezra isn’t sure which), he has no time to travel and instead music has become his full-time adventure.

The acoustic rocker and sensitive poet’s works now travel the globe. The band appeared with the Goo Goo Dolls, The Donnas and The Pat McGee Band. The group was recently featured on MTV’s reality series The Real World and toured with the Budweiser True Music Tailgate Concert series, keeping company with the Allman Brothers, Dave Matthews Band and G-Love. The avid snow enthusiasts never pass up a mountain town, with shows at the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships, ESPN’s Winter X-Games and FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival has been added to their list, with the band performing Saturday, April 22 between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. at the Whistler Concert Series outdoor mainstage at Skier’s Plaza – before hip hop icons Blackalicious take the stage at 7 p.m. for Big Air. The Adam Ezra Group will also play Saturday evening at The Boot Pub as part of the Kokannee Freeride Series. Admission to both shows is free.

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