Front-Man ADAM EZRA of Adam Ezra Group Discusses Their 365th Consecutive Livestream, Their New Single ‘Switching To Whiskey’ and More!
Over the course of 2020, Adam Ezra Group has streamed more than 22,000 minutes, performed over 2,500 songs, and garnered nearly 13 million views with their daily livestream called The Gathering Series, sponsored by Iron Smoke Whiskey.
Recently, the band marked a monumental feat with Gathering 365, their 365th consecutive stream. Initially created as a way to connect with people to feel less lost and scared during difficult times at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ezra turned to livestreaming with his first digital show on March 13, 2020 and returned every single night. Driven by a belief that small grassroots communities have the power to impact the world, The Gathering Series’ daily livestream stands as a testament not only to Ezra’s artistic endurance, but also his ability to provide an accepting and supportive space for newcomers to join his tight-knit community of fans. Through his own harrowing battle with COVID, a move to the Mojave Desert, a socially distanced summer tour with over 50 performances around the country, and even his wedding day, Ezra never missed a performance, broadcasting without fail from wherever he found himself each night at 7pm ET.
In celebration of Gathering 365, Adam Ezra Group have released fan favorite track, “Switching To Whiskey,” which has been highly requested during the band’s livestreams. Co-written by Clint Daniels, the track is an honest, stripped-down glance at vulnerable moments swirling in a glass of whiskey laden with heartbreak and embodied by Ezra’s raw yet powerful vocals.
“We play hundreds of songs out on the road, and never perform the same concert twice. Until ‘Switching to Whiskey’ came along, we had never before witnessed an unreleased song filter through our fanbase and seemingly overnight become one of our most requested songs. I love the way this studio track came out and can’t wait to release it to our fans around the world at Gathering365,”sharesEzraabout the new track. “Being on this journey with our gatherers has been the greatest honor of my career. It continues to inspire me every day, even on the hard days, and constantly reinforces my belief that music has the power to bring people together and see us through our greatest challenges.”
The above music video for “Switching To Whiskey” is dedicated to all of the live music that has been cancelled or postponed during the COVID pandemic. Ezra shares, “We’ve all been through so much during this past year. People in the music and service industries have been so hard hit, and we’re all so starved for live music.” He continues, “When brainstorming with Jeff, we had to figure out a creative way to shoot a video that felt impactful and in keeping with the spirit of the song, while also not being able to work with my band and anything more than a skeleton crew to keep the shoot as safe as possible. We loved the concept of creating a main character who was so needing to play music again that he actually snuck into an empty bar and played his own concert for a non-existent audience.”
“Switching To Whiskey” is the latest release part of Adam Ezra Group’s ambitious new recording series dubbed The Album Project which will see the band releasing 19 new singles over the next few years, trading in the traditional LP format for a steady flow of fresh material designed to keep their ever-expanding community active and engaged even beyond the pandemic. The endeavor kicked off last month with the release of “All Right Today,” an effervescent, feel-good track which is an ode to putting one foot in front of the other, to living in the moment, and leaning on one another to get through our hardest times.
Working outside the confines of the traditional music industry, Adam Ezra and his bandmates– Corinna Smith (fiddle), Alex Martin (drums), Poche Ponce (bass)– built a community of fans through sheer grit and determination, regularly performing hundreds of shows a year for the past two decades without any major label or mainstream radio support. Fusing folk intimacy and rock energy with soul power and pop charm, the band first emerged from Boston in the early 2000s and quickly garnered widespread acclaim for their bold, insightful songwriting and interactive, euphoric performances. From hole in the wall bars and house concerts to sold-out headline shows and dates with the likes of Little Big Town, The Wallflowers, Gavin DeGraw, Train, and The Wailers, Ezra and his bandmates treated every single gig like their last, attracting a die-hard following that believed not just in the music, but in their commitment to activism and social change as well.
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Learn more about Adam Ezra in the following All Access interview with the musician here:
Thanks for your time, Adam! Congrats on your 365th consecutive livestream with Gathering 365! Is it hard to believe that you have livestreamed that many times over the past year? I understand that you have had nearly 13 million views. What were the early numbers like? What has it been like watching that number grow each stream? How do you livestream every night? What has this experience been like overall for you and the band? Once touring is back, will you continue to stream your concerts?
Great to be connecting with you, and thank you for the congrats!! Yeah, it’s a little bit surreal to think about how much livestreaming I’ve done over this last year. It’s truly been the craziest and most inspiring thing I’ve ever been a part of as an artist.
It started on March 13th last year. I was supposed to be opening for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes down in Clearwater, FL. It was a Friday night, the news had just announced it an official pandemic, and while I had no idea what that really meant at the time, I canceled on Johnny and found myself home on a Friday night. I was scared. I was sad. I decided to livestream, not so much to perform as much as simply connect to our community of listeners. In the moment I honestly just wanted to feel less alone. Hundreds of fans joined me online, and I realized that though we were all isolated, scattered around the country, and from all different backgrounds, we were all experiencing the same thing together. That was powerful to me, and I decided to do the same thing the next night, during which hundreds more joined me. This continued to happen each night, we began calling it The Gathering Series, and as the pandemic storm continued to spiral, The Gatherings became this consistent, grounding space in which we could all touch down each evening.
Ironically, even though our tour was canceled, I was finding myself, for the first time as an artist, reaching hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. There were good days and bad days, inspiring moments as well as complete train-wrecks, but I stayed committed to being live each day at 7pm for our Gatherers, no matter where I was or how I was doing. Thinking back on these last 400+ nights, there are many moments I am embarrassed by, and many I’m proud of…shows with my band, nights with guests, a week during which I was sick with COVID, road trips, thunderstorms, you name it. What a journey to be on…
No matter what ends up happening with our tour or my career moving forward, I’m sure The Gathering Series will forever remain a core part of who I am as an artist.
Let’s talk about your newest track, “Switching to Whiskey.” What was the inspiration for this song? What was it like premiering it through Gathering 365?
I love the story behind “Switching to Whiskey.” I first met Clint Daniels at a songwriter festival in Key West. We were both performing and paired up as roomies for the week. We struck a deep friendship quickly, and one night after giving him guff about switching to whiskey from the tropical drinks all the artists were drinking, we laughed and decided that would be our first songwriting endeavor together…
Me and my band field tested the song out on the road about year or so before the pandemic hit, and it seemed like overnight it became one of our most requested songs by fans all over the country. This is a pretty amazing thing, as we have 20 or so albums worth of music out, never play the same set twice, and have an extremely diverse and scattered fanbase. We had no idea how people were even finding out about the song, let alone knowing it enough to sing along with us, but there they were each night, belting it out and raising their glasses.
We wanted to do something really special for our fan community at Gathering 365 and decided to unveil the studio version that night. In the handful of weeks since, it has quickly become the most streamed track we’ve ever released, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to now be releasing the video!!
How does this song prepare fans for more music from your series, The Album Project and how does it compare to your previously released track, “All Right Today”?
“All Right Today” was our first release in 2021, and the very beginning of “The Album Project.”
We’ve all spent this last year struggling to survive and stay strong. This song is a mantra for us, inspired by our belief in the power of community to overcome adversity when we are strong enough to rely on one another. It felt like the right way to begin 2021, and I love the way the recording came out.
Can you elaborate on your decision to release 19 new singles over the next few years, trading in the traditional album format for a steady flow of fresh songs?
Sure! Every night, no matter where I am and what I’m doing, fans get to check in. They know every new song I write and are slowly getting introduced to notebooks full of old songs I’ve never been able to share before. This process feels so honest and gratifying to me, even when the things I share are rough around the edges.
These days, there is such an immediacy to the creation and sharing of our art, we decided that our studio releases should be a reflection of that process as well. Rather than wait for a whole album to be finished, we are releasing new music as we go.
We’re calling it “The Album Project,” but it’s an ironic title, as it’s really a departure from releasing music in album format. As we record, we release. No waiting for other tracks, or artwork…no shopping to labels or deciding when to maximize on the holiday rush. We get to take the politics and business out of the process, and just create and share our music as we make it…
It’s funny…just this morning I sent an email to my band about a 20th song we might need to start digging into asap. 🙂
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could all be in this group together? Why do you all work so well together?
I’ve been playing music for 20 years and over those 2 decades there have been a number of incarnations of Adam Ezra Group. The team of artists I play with right now are by far my favorite band I’ve ever had the honor to play with. Alex, Corinna, and Poche are so versatile and talented. They make me a better musician every time I step onto a stage. On top of that, they are also 3 of my favorite people in the world. I think that living and breathing art together on the road is one of the most difficult things there is to do, and I am grateful every day for my musical family.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
I’m the third generation to have grown up around Boston, and I have a tremendous pride and love for my city. I’ve spent a lot of my life traveling, and all of those places and the people I’ve encountered impact the art that I make. That said, Boston, both the city and the culture, continues to be a huge influence on the art I create.
How would you say that you have grown as a musician over the years? How has this group’s sound matured and developed? What has remained the same?
I love this question! Honestly, our journey has not been a fairytale ride. We started out in the bars around Boston and have literally grown one fan at a time over many years and many miles. If anything, I think the process has humbled me. Over time I have witnessed such inspiring talent and creativity throughout the music world, it’s helped me appreciate that there is no such thing as “deserving to make it.” Whether or not luck is on your side, being a successful artist takes tremendous dedication and hard work, and there will always be lessons to learn from others.
As a band, we hope to embody this notion. We are constantly working on new songs and arrangements. We are often experimenting with new instruments and sounds. We never play the same set twice, and we never spend an entire night on stage in our comfort zone. This creates good moments and bad moments, but if they’re real moments then we feel we are achieving our goal as a band.
What has remained the same? I think maybe the belief that honest songwriting has the power to reveal that there is more about us that is the same than is different…
Where do you think you are happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
That’s a hard one to answer. I guess I would say that personally, my happiest moments happen within the writing process itself. There is nothing I’ve experienced more fulfilling than finishing a new song.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? What have been some of your favorite shows and venues? When things open up and touring resumes, where are you most excited to perform at?
For us, it’s all about the connection with our audience. I love the idea that a bunch of disconnected people arrive in a place, share an emotional journey together, and walk away feeling kindred. That journey can happen in small and large formats, and ideally for us, each journey is unique.
Because of this, some of my favorite shows have been born from adversity – the power going off at a club in the middle of a set, or playing on rain-soaked instruments in the middle of a crowded festival field…
With all the different social media platforms out there, how do you balance it all? How do you think that social media has impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
I think that like it or not, social media has become and will continue to be a central part of any musician’s life if they have any desire be connected to their community. It’s always been a difficult thing for me, as I have felt like social media has very little to do with the art forms that inspire me. I’ve come to a different place though, after all that has happened in the last year. Without our ability to tour, social media has been the lifeline that has not only kept our community together and engaged, but actually allowed us to grow and spread our music and message around the world.
Even the ways we listen to music and watch videos have become a form of social media, as fans continue to share and spread the art that inspires them.
What’s more, as I’ve continued to embrace connection through livestreaming and posting, I’ve learned that those connections can be every bit as meaningful as an in-person experience…just different. I’m coming around to it more and more, and like thinking about the ways our connection to people through social media can be as real and honest as possible…
What musicians have really been inspiring you all since you first started making music? Who would you still love to work with?
Wow, that’s a big question, as there are so many artists out there who inspire me and shaped who I am over the years. I’ll mention 2 right now, but only because both artists have been in my thoughts this morning. Ask me this afternoon and I could give you 2 more!
This morning I’ve been thinking about the different ways that artists connect. Some artists blow me away by how beautifully they sing or play. To see these artists live is really something…feels like touching greatness. There are other artists though, who connect through their own raw humanity. The Rolling Stones are a great example of this for me, and a group who has really had a surprising impact in recent years. My favorite album of theirs, Exile on Mainstreet is fascinating to me, precisely because it is not beautiful. It’s completely messy and frayed, and each time I listen to it I am taken with the raw, chaotic, whirlwind they were all experiencing at the time and channeling directly into their microphones. While my lifestyle is nothing like theirs, I am constantly trying to achieve that kind of realness in my recordings and performances…not always pretty, but hopefully translating the raw/honest moments I am living through.
I also can’t stop listening to Anders Osborne’s album Coming Down. He’s a New Orleans guy and released this album in the wake of Hurricane Katrina…just incredible songwriting and brilliant musical performances that pay tribute to the sounds and culture of his city. I love his arrangements. Nothing feels overproduced, and every sound and instrument is contributing to the spirit of each song. With all the work we are doing in the studio these days, and I am trying to take a little bit of Anders’ spirit along with me as I go.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
For me, great art happens when an artist can express the things they’re feeling uniquely and honesty, and somehow their uniqueness can describe something universally human to which we can all relate. I guess I hope that a listener can experience their own range of emotions and experiences through my songs, and through our performances feel connected and hopeful for the things we can achieve together.