Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Digging Up Your Roots: Adela and Jude and "Will Sing for Food"

Today we have a slightly different spin on the Digging Up Your Roots feature. Adela and Jude are a traveling duo with a firm stand on local grown food, business, and in their case talent. To know these two is to love them. Supporting your local environment and economy can lead to great things and they are at the forefront of a movement that I truly hope to see gain more traction. I'll let them tell you all about it though!

So tell us about yourself, Adela, your upbringing and how its effected you musically?

Jude: A little bit about us...

We have been performing as a duo for about the last four years, we’re both lifelong musicians – with a real diverse background.  My dad was a traveling guitarist – eventually landing the family in California in the early 60’s working with the Jack Parr Traveling Band, and other groups.    I also landed business roles as G.M. for Tom Scholz of Boston - Rockman factory, and later with Fishman – the acoustic guitar company – running the US sales organization.  Myself, schooled as a drummer overcame a serious injury which shattered both heels when I was 18, went on to study at NEC in Boston and drumming for local bands such as the Happy Campers in the late 80’s, and more recently with Mike Macdonald and the Widowmakers .  Drumming with JJ Rassler, I developed elbow issues which caused severe pain and effectively ended a drumming career.  So I started playing kick and snare with my feet while strumming guitars, banjos, mando and autoharp.  

Adela, blessed with perfect pitch – discovered at the age of 10 – came to classical music via the two side by side grand pianos in her family’s home – where her father hosted  8 hand concerts.  Adela began piano lessons at the age of 4, held first chair on clarinet in her high school band in Wakefield and eventually was offered a full scholarship for piano at Berklee, but her main passion was graphic design – and took that direction through college. For the decade or so Adela has been lead designer for the Don Law / Live Nation group in Boston, creating The Brighton Music Hall logo design and many others you see around Boston every day.

So, how did the duo of “Adela and Jude” come to be? How did your paths eventually cross?

Jude: When we met outside of music, Adela was intrigued with an old Estey Pump organ that I had, found years before.  With a love of old southern spiritual music – the band was born. 

We’ve always taken more of an interpretative approach with both original and traditional music we perform.   Early in 2010 when we were just starting we received the Club Passim Iguana Music Fund award for our work in preserving lost songs we’ve  in found hymnals.  Through the reconstruction of the songs – much in the way A.P. Carter would find old songs in the hills of Appalachia and re-vamp them with the music Leslie Riddle supplied on his guitar – found a voice that resonated within us.

 We quickly coupled our visual art with our music, creating more of a performance art interpretation of the old tent revival evangelical music, leading the late Boston Band Crush to award us with “Favorite Jesus Freaks”.    While we embrace that side of the music, our true faith lays within the belief in yourself – a message we try to bring to our music in both secular and spiritual performances.  

A natural outgrowth of this dedication to the human spirit was to begin playing two hour plus shows – which over time grew to four hour shows – This is where the shift from touring and playing club/gastro pub venues began to shift to farmers markets and outreach shelters for the poor and hungry.

So why farmers markets? Why the pull to the rural market versus the allure (or lack there of) of city pub/bar/club gigs?

Drawn to the local food movement, we began reaching out to markets – and found an audience who was keenly attuned to the music and message.   From the obscure “Devil Takes the Farmer” – to old Appalachian laments, to up tempo Hank Sr. gospel songs – the music resonates in a field of farmers tables – and everyone from toddlers to seniors can be seen dancing and smiling while we stomp and holler through an old southern spiritual like “Ain’t No Grave” by Brother Claude Ely.   

When we travel,  in our Van, living very bare bones on the road –  we played markets – the farmers and market managers would hand us huge bags of produce – and when we’d count up our tips – we realized we could make more playing markets than most clubs loaded down with 4 or 5 acts for the night.  Over 2011 and 2012 – our shows became more and more focused on performing 3 to 4 hour sets at markets.  Our visual stage set his full of iconic pieces picked up along our travels – each bringing a unique spirit to our stage.   

When we hunker down in the Boston area for the winter – we begin focusing on the next season’s tour plans.   We’ve also been active in filmmaking – online web production work over the last couple years – Jude’s background stretches back to the BFVF in Boston – as we are a very visual oriented band- it was a natural to grow in this direction, especially when our fan base from touring has really developed into broad geographically diverse base – we can keep them engaged with our webisode series “Adela & Jude’s Happy Hour” series where we try to throwback to the old school country variety shows – getting guests, cooking segments, life-hacks, obscure short films, and more.   

Meanwhile our music videos are getting some exposure at festivals, so it’s a great direction for us, since we’re very visual artists. 

Well you have (as stated) been frequenting farmers markets for the past few years and I know that you are supporters of locally and homegrown product. How does that play into “Will Sing For Food”?

So, it occurred to us, that the people we met over the past couple years, the farmers, the market managers, the customers – all contribute to their local economies thriving.  As traveling musicians – we are interlopers into every community that welcomes us in.  We feel so lucky that we can experience this – and the most vibrant towns that we encounter – are the ones where community means everything.  Keeping the money local, ends up keeping the economy healthy, the community engagement is what makes a farmers’ market work.   We’ve felt that a wonderful way to celebrate these communities is to document our travels, and making a commitment to feeding ourselves on the food we get donated by farmers – in this way we can showcase the vibrancy of local farms and markets. 

 The impact of farmers markets goes far beyond the fresh produce offered.   It brings back a time when people connected – talked to the farmers – nowadays – you can go into a supermarket and literally not talk or interact with a single person, and food is such a powerful social medium that the result of these markets is the re-engagement of community.  We are striving to show that the impact of these markets on the greater good.   

Our realization that SNAP funding is so closely tied to fresh, healthy food for people who cannot afford it and who have been tied to the diet fostered upon them by over processed, under-nourishing meals that when purchased at a supermarket – take those precious dollars out of the community – forever – and into the pockets of huge corporate food producers.  We feel compelled to do our part to help, and thus – “Will Sing for Food” was conceived.   2014 will be a year of planning and production of the film and our tour with release in 2015 of the finished project.
Adela and Jude come from families where farming was a big part of our heritage, and our musical style, our social commitments naturally led us to performing at farmer’s markets.   To us,  playing three hours of music to people who enjoy it, watching the interactions at the market.   From toddlers who start dancing to 80 year olds who tap there can to tune that draws up a dusty old memory,  it is one of the driving forces behind what we do. 


Great stuff to come from these two and their active outreach to the community the will benefit from "Will Sing for Food". I cannot wait to see what the next year holds for them

Check out Adela and Jude online at: http://flavors.me/adelajude

1 comment:

  1. We're doing a rare club show while we are here in the Boston area - in February! We'll be @ Atwood's Tavern in Cambridge on Sunday Afternoon, February 9th from 4 to 6 with some very special guests.