Hello and happy holidays! This will likely be my last blog post of the year. Adios 2020!
As a performing artist I miss playing live in the worst way. Before the pandemic hit I was all set for a busy year with some great gigs lined up. It all changed in the blink of an eye and I had to rethink how I did everything from lessons to performances. I played all of four gigs in nine months which lead to frustration and guilt that I couldn't contribute to the household income as much as I'd like. Fortunately my wife has an essential job that insured we had income coming in. And thanks to technology, I am able to teach, do some internet shows, and do video production work for the family business, Homespun Music Instruction.
Having a chronic condition puts me in a high-risk category, so I have been stuck at home through the worst of this health crisis which amplified my angst. Just before the shutdown in March I had started tracking demos from a flurry of songs I had penned the previous year. Making lemonade from the lemons we were dealt forced me to rethink my approach to work.
I took the time craft my latest project called "Legacy," a deeply personal collection of songs. I had written "Legacy," the title track around 2017, and had multiple requests for a recorded version. In February of 2020 my dad, Happy Traum, was in California so I took advantage and set up my home studio. The two of us did a duet on the song about my growing up surrounded by music and passing that gift along to my teenaged son. We also did Steve Earle's "Hometown Blues." This session was the start of this project.
I had found a new muse in the recording/production rabbit hole. I started playing with arrangements and adding subtle enhancements to these relatively simple songs. I enlisted the help of my musician friends to help out, adding bass, guitar, mandolin and a nature sound track. I also had friends who offered me gear and moral support and feedback while getting my ProTools chops in shape.
This may be the best album I have recorded. Although "Legacy" has heavy notes in it, I tried to balance the frustrations of an isolated life with humor and hope. The last track I wrote was in September of 2020. "Ash on the Windshield" was penned and tracked within weeks of it's completion. I wrote it for my fifteenth wedding anniversary as a gift to my wife. It was inspired by the wildfires that were burning a few miles up the road.
I think about albums as a snapshot in time of where we are as artists at any given moment in our lives. My approach today is very different than my very first solo record in 2006. I look back at some of those tracks and cringe, but a friend heard the "Meant to Be" album and was raving about how great he thought it was. I guess we are our own worst critics. Having had the luxury of using this time to create something that may give others joy and inspiration reassures me that I am on the right path. Although it is always terrifying for me to release new material to the world, the reward always outweighs my irrational fear.
The silver lining to the pandemic is that my family has grown from an already-close unit to having what I expect will be an unbreakable bond. If I had been on the road as much as I had planned to be in 2020, my son and I might not have had the chance to do taekwondo together, or started our family reading time after dinner. I would have missed some of the inside jokes at the expense of Carole Baskin and her odd-looking husband with the weird mouth. The excitement of looking forward to another season of "The Mandalorian" or "The Boys" might not have seemed as vital to our sanity.
With all the struggles in the world, including people who are food insecure who need jobs and housing, and those who were unfortunate enough to get Covid, I think about just how fortunate a person I am. I have a great family, friends who support me, and my health. There is a roof over my head and food in the fridge. There are more songs in the cue for another record and I didn't even mention my band, Wolf Run's project we have been chipping away at through these dark months.
I look forward to the day when we I can play live again. I can't wait to feel the heat of the stage lights, and the rumble from a PA vibrating from my toes to my head. The chance to share music with an audience excites me more than ever, and gives me something to look forward to. Sharing a stage with my musical compatriots and feeling wrung out after a night of playing is something that can't happen soon enough. But in the mean time, I'm going to enjoy each taekwondo class, each terrible joke from my young teen, every delicious meal my wife cooks, and each beautiful breath I get to breathe.
I hope we can figure out how to put petty grievances behind us, and see our brothers and sisters as a part of an extended family that we treat with kindness and empathy. A rising tide lifts all boats, and It is my holiday wish for everyone out there that the tide lifts us all up 2021.
Adam's website: adamtraumguitar.com
Link to Legacy release: https://amtraum.bandcamp.com/releases