Nashville taking notice of Toronto singer-songwriter
June 25, 2012 | Jack Borenstein - Correspondent
TORONTO – Adlai Waxman is a talented songwriter and singer living and working in Nashville who has crafted his music to a level where both fans and the music industry are taking notice.
Waxman, 36, born and raised in Toronto, has always been family and Jewish oriented.
“I attended Hebrew school, had my bar mitzvah at Adath Israel Congregation and observe Jewish holidays,” he said.
His interest in music began at a young age. He was fascinated “by Jewish songs and melodies especially involving Passover.”
He acknowledged music was his main influence growing up “providing…the best way to express myself.”
Waxman is comfortable with a wide variety of genres, including jazz, pop, rock and folk, which reflect many of his influences.
“I push myself to write as many styles as I can,” he said. “My Circumstance and Dreams recording (released May 2012) is a great example, as each track reflects those genres. You have everything from a pop song, to an Americana (Canadiana) to even a Latin jazz feel song.”
Waxman was a side man on keyboards for cover bands and songwriter groups.
“I worked the Toronto Jewish music scene with individuals like Mitch Smolkin at Free Times Café Sunday brunches performing Klezmer music,” he said.
Another Waxman performance was in 1999 at Kibbutz Maagan in Tiberius, Israel, said he wants “to return in the future to experience Israel fully.”
He studied music at Humber College in Toronto and Capilano University in Vancouver and considers himself a street musician.
“The best education is performing for audiences across Canada and the United States and seeing how people react to certain songs,” Waxman said. “With my own shows and other artists, I played about 300 gigs last year. Highlights included the South By Southwest festival in Austin, TX, The Bitter End in New York City and one of the best listening rooms in North America, The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.”
Other touring highlights have included Toronto’s North by Northeast festival and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
He became a solo act in 2004 independently releasing Pomona Valley.
“Being a side man for so long it was time to be on my own,” he said.
The tracks Nothing Left from Pomona Valley and Sun Song from his 2005 Flight 73 album both reached No. 1 on the CBC Radio New Music Canada web site.
Waxman moved to Nashville in 2007 to study at SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) who collect performing royalties for Canadian songwriters appearing in radio play, live performances, television and film.
“As a side project they have a residency house in Nashville where Canadian songwriters can test the waters and have a free place to stay. I started my residency in November 2007 originally for two weeks and have now been there five years. I am constantly around songwriters and have obtained great advice about my career path.”
While with Marshmellow Records, Waxman released Down at Joe’s in 2009 that was nominated for a JPF Award (also known as The Grass Roots Grammies) for Best male singer-songwriter album. He co-produced Circumstance and Dreams with George Marinelli and Vince Santoro (the latter Roseanne Cash’s drummer and current drummer for Mary Chapin Carpenter).
“I met George in 1992 at the O’Keefe Centre (now Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) in Toronto while he toured with Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Hornsby.
“Almost 20 years later [we became] good friends and …he’s been a mentor of sorts for me in Nashville.”
Waxman’s early musical influences included Billy Joel and Elton John; currently he is influenced by artists such as Mark Cohen, Joe Jackson, Randy Newman and Tom Waits.
“These artists are always at the top of their song writing game. It could be them and only a piano and their songs would always sound great.”
Waxman credited the late Jerry Wexler – a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and a music industry mogul who signed and/or produced many stars including Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Aretha Franklin – for helping him with music connections and important decisions.
“Wexler’s direct quote about me and my music is: ‘Adlai Waxman is a musician who can fit in with the best of them.’ Whenever I get down on myself I think about his words.”
Waxman’s uncle obtained from Wexler and gave to Adlai a master disc collection of Ray Charles recordings that have never been publicly released and which he greatly treasures.
The song Katy (On The Red Line) is currently ranked in the Top 10 of the CD Baby Rock American Charts “and is my favourite song in my career,” according to Waxman. He is performing in Tennessee June 28 and in early August and would like to perform in Toronto in the future.
“I’m also looking into scoring music for television, film and commercials.”
For further info on Waxman including viewing the video for the song Katy go to www.adlaiwaxman.com.
To buy Circumstance and Dreams on iTunes go to http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/circumstance-and-dreams-ep/id507048364.