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Laurie Niles

Adam DeGraff: Violin and Vocals for New Band, 'The Weight'

June 24, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Last we saw violinist Adam DeGraff, he was serving up fun rock tunes, like Don't Stop Believin' and Sweet Child of Mine, and even giving us sheet music and helping us learn to play them.

He's still doing that -- and more. Now my fellow Northwestern University Music School alumnus is even further into Rock 'n' Roll, having started a new band called The Weight and also a Kickstarter campaign to "help these West Virginia-based twang-rockers record a debut EP."

So I e-mailed Adam to see what's up!

Laurie: You were doing a lot of playing with The Dueling Fiddlers a few years ago, and now suddenly I see you have a new band! Are you still dueling with Russell Fallstad?

Adam: Yes, Russell and I continue to duel. We've been doing a lot more corporate shows lately, and we've been experimenting with some cool new toys (two loopers and a few interesting effect pedals). Great thing about TDF (and Pianafiddle, my other touring show), is that you can do two, three, or more different shows that serve different audiences. Pianafiddle plays well to arts centers. TDF plays well to corporate events, and it seems my new band, The Weight, does really well for large, live audiences that like to dance.

Laurie: How did this new band come about, and what is the basic idea behind it? What kind of music are you drawing from, and are you writing all the tunes? How does that work?

Adam: This new band kind of just happened. I met an amazing singer, Morgan Cornwell, who also happens to be a phenomenal pianist/keyboardist and who also just happens to be a great song writer. Next thing I knew, we had written 20 original songs that heavily integrate rock violin. We brought on a bass player and a drummer that are both premium, touring musicians, and things started to move kind of quickly. The music is a real mix of things: rock, blues, bluegrass, even a little alt c-c-c-c-country. The writing is fun, but whats really fun is playing in a band that can get 1,000 college students on their feet and dancing. I'm hooked.

Adam DeGraff

Laurie: Have you worked with voice before, and is it any different?

Adam: If the singer is great, working with voice is no different than working with any other instrument. Especially since everything is mic'd and amplified, if your sound crew is good, everything kind of just works. Morgan is a killer singer, and since we write together, things run pretty smoothly.

Laurie: If I've been doing mostly classical music, how do I form a rock band? Will I be handicapped in any way, because I've always done classical, and how would I overcome that?

Adam: That's a great question. First off, classical is a great start. It means you have learned to play in tune, practice well, and have a good grounding in basic form and structure. (Rock music is awfully similar to baroque music, actually.) As for forming your band... HA, you just have to jam with people until you find something that works.

Laurie: Was it hard to set up a Kickstarter? Have you done it before, do you recommend it?

Adam: This is my first Kickstarter campaign. You'll notice we aren't asking for all that much money. It's not really just about funding our project, but more about sharing what we are doing with more people and giving them the chance to team up with us and make something cool. I for one think there needs to be MORE violin in the pop and rock world. And so far, it looks like many people agree and are chipping in their hard earned $$ to see where this goes.

Setting up the Kickstarter was pretty straightforward, though there's always hoops to jump through any time you do something "official" like Kickstarter. Of course, the reason KS is so well respected is that they vet every project. Like I said, hoops and maybe a little red tape... but worth it, in my opinion.

Laurie: When are you going to write a book of rock etudes? :)

Adam: Rock Etudes? What Laurie, you want to publish it? I think it's time for and I to team up, run a Kickstarter, and get that book written and published! :-)

* * *
Here's Adam's Kickstarter video -- my first question was, "What's up with his voice?" He did indeed have laryngitis on the day they shot the video!

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