Adam Ezra, Richard Ford, Bob Whear, and Me

 

This past Saturday night was filled with  karma, magic, and inspiration starting at around four thirty when Bob Whear and his wife, Sherry, checked in. They are fellow innkeepers from Northboro, Maine where they own the Mill Pond Inn on Damariscotta Lake.

Bob is a gregarious teller of tall tales with over thirty years of innkeeping under his belt. We were hungry for war stories and advice but he opened the evening with a classic tale of rock ’n roll debauchery. I could never retell the story as well as he does but let’s just say it involved a seventeen year old boy named Bob Whear who checked into Bob Weir’s room at the Holiday Inn in Providence. Yes, we are talking about The Other One, Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. Gerry Garcia was there too, along with a table full of contraband and a ride with a roadie in an equipment van to Springfield for the next night’s show. If you ever find yourself traveling up the Maine coast you should spend a night at Bobby and Sherry’s place where you can get the full, unedited version of the story.

The Whears were in Norfolk to see Adam Ezra who was playing at Infinity Hall. Although a large percentage of our guests at the Inn are here to see shows, Rich and I had never been. Bob insisted we join them. “I’ll call and get you on the guest list.” Adam has stayed at his inn several times and they have become good friends.

What can I tell you about Adam Ezra if you’ve never heard his music?

What I immediately loved about him was he is a self-described Jewish hippie with a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring communities to get involved in grassroots activism and organize socially conscious live music events. At Saturday night’s show everyone brought household goods and small kitchen appliances for the New England Center and Home for Veterans, because yes there are homeless vets in America. Hard to understand how this can be true but sadly it is.

Some of Adam’s music is flat out funny, as in The Devil Came Up To Boston, which is done in a wicked funny Boston accent to the tune of Charlie Daniel’s The Devil Came Down to Georgia with a dash of Dropkick Murphys.

Most of his tunes are honest and real, and his relationship with his fans is personal. The night we saw him he dedicated several songs to folks in the audience, including Hippie Girl for our new friend, Sherry Whear.

Late in the show he told a story about his upcoming 39th birthday and gave an honest assessment of how he feels about where he is in life and where he thought he would be at this point in time when he was a younger man first playing music in Chicago. I recognized the feelings because I wrote words like these that I gave to Sam Ryder in Life Is All This about “The life you hoped to have and the one you ended up living.” 

At the end of the show, Adam jokingly told us, “We’re too lazy to do encores. Ya know, walking off the stage, waiting for the applause, coming back to play again. So these next three songs are the encore.”

The band unplugged, moved close together at the center of the stage and sang three acoustic songs, the last of which was Free Falling by Tom Petty. We knew all the words and we all sounded great. It was a magical moment.

After the show, I had the chance to meet Adam, not in a backstage room with friends of the band but right out in the lobby where he meets with all his fans and sells his CD’s and T-shirts and bumper stickers for whatever you can afford to pay.

He’s embarking on a solo acoustic tour in January, doing a series of house parties. Saturday night I made him an offer I hope he can’t refuse and I’ve since been in touch by email. So stay tuned and let’s keep our fingers crossed.

The magic of the evening didn’t end with the show. On our short ride home, Sherry jokingly told us Bob knows everyone from Northboro to Boothbay and beyond.

Boothbay? Lately, ever since Life Is All This was compared to Richard Ford’s work in an Amazon review I received, I have been obsessed with Richard Ford. So far I have read the first two Bascombe novels, two of his collections of short stories, and just about every interview he’s ever done that I can find on Google. I know he lives in East Boothbay so I throw this out there.

“You don’t happen to know Richard Ford, do you?”

“Yeah, he’s been in my bar.” Besides innkeeping, Bob bartends at a local watering hole.

Later that night I had a hard time falling asleep, my mind racing with ideas on how to get to Boothbay and meet Richard Ford.

The next morning Bob came down early and joined us in the kitchen. He offered tips to Rich on how to fix the griddle top on the big old stove we have, where to get materials for a new counter top, and how to make the best poached eggs. He also requested a signed copy of Life Is All This and is bringing it to his local bookstore. He gave me the owner’s email and I will be contacting her about a possible book reading. Together Bob and I are working on the Richard Ford thing. Again, keep your fingers crossed.

On Saturday night, Adam opened with a song that for me was so evocative of the novels I’ve written and the one I’m writing now about the small cities and towns out here in the Berkshires. It was melancholy, sprinkled with hope. There were open roads, and months and years that flash like fireflies, and miles to go because as long we’re alive we can still dream.

For all of you who still believe in dreams, and chance encounters with strangers, and time to gamble on the life we chase, this song’s for you.

Takin’ Off Today by Adam Ezra:

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