Aside from hosting a weekly songwriters’ showcase in downtown St. John’s, he’s a singer/songwriter, performer, Memorial University student, kids’ birthday party host and music teacher on the side.
Adam Baxter’s next immediate goal is to release a CD.
Baxter moved to St. John’s in 2004 to study music at MUN, graduating with a degree in classical guitar in 2010. Because of his extensive background working with children at various summer camps and recreational programs, he decided to return to Memorial to do music education. After he graduates in 2013, he wants to work in the public school system in Newfoundland.
Last week Baxter released a new original single “I Call This Home,” a song about Middleton, N.S., where he grew up.
“I do a lot of recording. I like learning and playing various different instruments and I try to use whatever I have at my disposal,” he says.
At the moment that includes his voice, guitar, cello and trumpet, all used on the new song, recorded in his home studio.
A songwriter since 2002, the 29-year-old has toured Eastern Canada twice, the Maritimes five times and Newfoundland once as a solo performer.
“I do have a band right now, but I still perform solo quite a bit.”
The band Tall Tales, formed in March, features Baxter on guitar and vocals; Amanda Stellisano, piano and vocals; Jordon Pinksen, drums; and Ryan Taylor on bass.
“We’ve played a few shows, but we’re trying not to overplay ourselves because we don’t want to kill our crowd, which could easily happen.”
The band’s next booking is at the Oct. 28 MusicNL conference at the Delta.
Tall Tales performs Baxter’s original songs flavoured with donations from fellow band members.
“We’ve all come together and arranged them for the group. Even though I wrote the chord progressions and the vocals, Amanda wrote her own piano parts and vocal parts, Ryan came in with his own bass lines, Jordan came up with his own drums. The whole arrangement of where the song goes is something we’ve all done together.”
There’s quite a difference between the solo arrangements and the band’s arrangements, he says.
“I think it’s nice to know you’re not writing novelty songs that can only be done in one specific fashion. It makes me feel really good in the sense that you can write songs that can transcend arrangements and perhaps even transcend genres.”
With so much non-stop music being produced and greater public accessibility to music these days it would seem more difficult to make a musical mark that will leave an impression.
“Especially with the world of communications being cut down so much as the Internet has done, where you’re exposed to so much more than just what’s on the radio or what you order from Columbia House, it’s pretty difficult to stand out.”
But he sees using a variety of instruments as one way of capturing attention.
“And that involves getting a lot of people together and making it homogenous. I think the popularity of guitar/bass/drums/vocals thing was huge 50-60 years ago with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, when that really took off. That orchestration or arrangement, even though it has seen leaps and bounds of diversity ... maybe it’s now time to put some new instruments in there. There are so many instruments that are so accessible ... why not use them and try and make them work to do some new and inventive things. There are some great records out there right now that are using a lot of different orchestrations for different instrumentation.”
He feels even with the addition of brass, woodwinds and double-reed instruments the musical possibilities are endless.
“Those instruments are commonly used in high school band programs. You can easily find these anywhere, especially in the city.”
When it comes to his own style, Baxter says he’s unable to explain it, particularly since he’s recently completely changed what he does.
“Honest — that’s the only thing I can come up with.”
Though he’s released digital records, with the demands of school and work he doesn’t have a physical record as yet. But he’s hoping that’s somewhere in his near future.
“Even if it’s just five songs. I don’t really care about getting the songs to a label, I care about playing as much of my music as I can for as many people as I can,” he says.