The Story of Guitarist
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Justin Adams is considered one of U.K.’s
most original guitarists. His music today is strongly influenced by
his early childhood exposure to Arab music. His father was a British
diplomat in Jordan and Egypt, and the sounds of the time have stayed
with Justin. Over the years he has experimented with a variety of
musical instruments and managed to blend the different sounds
successfully. This has made him an expert in his field.
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When he started out with a commercially
unsuccessful little pop band known as The Impossible Dream, little
did he know where it would lead. He started by investing in small
things like scales and was interested in experimenting by mixing
different types of music, but at the time no one in England had any
interest in such things.
It wasn’t until the late 1980’s, when Justin met Jah Wobble that his
guitar playing abilities were noticed by the public at large. During
the eight year partnership with Jah Wobble, Justin’s intuitive music
style blended Arabic an African elements. The time was right and the
public accepted him willingly. In addition to the Mercury Prize
nomination album ‘Rising above Bedlam’, Justin co-wrote two other
albums during this time and performed in a number of tours. This
partnership was very rewarding both financially and in terms of
education in the field of music. After the parting of ways with
Wobble around 1996, Justin did work with various artists. He made an
album with the Algerian singer Abdel Ali Slimani, and toured and
recorded with Sinead O’Connor.
The work with Sinead helped pay the bills as he had recently
incurred major personal and financial losses. At this point, Justin
was working on a lot of small projects, and managed to become more
aquainted with Irish music through Davy Spillane. There were also
projects going on with John Reynolds, Natacha Atlas, and a bit of
work for TV and film. During this time he was also introduced to
Lo’Jo through the journalist Andy Morgan.
The encounter with the French band was a turning point in Adam's
life. It presented the opportunity to produce an album and tour with
the band on cultural exchange to Bamako, Mali. This collaboration
proved to be the source of different kinds of music that Justin
loved so dearly. The Tuareg musicians had a deep affect on Justin
and with the encouragement from Lo’Jo a recording trip to Southern
Sahara materialized. This lead to a debut album called "Radio tisdas
Sessions" and gave Justin the chance to play at the first Festival
of the Desert. He performed some of the songs from his solo album
‘Desert Road” which had just been released.
Things certainly took an unexpected turn after the release of
‘Desert Road’. Off the back of the album he put together the band
‘Wayward Sheikhs’ with Salah Dawson Miller and Andy Cox. Besides the
conventional gigs, the band played concerts in collaboration with
local musicians in Damascus, Syria, and Tunis. Justin’s reminiscent
style of playing the guitar got him two commissions for two feature
films. ‘Kin’ is set in the Namibian desert and ‘Deadline Beirut’ is
set in Lebanon during the Civil War.
There has been no looking back for Justin Adams, and he has become
an in-demand musician. He co-wrote The Robert Plant album ‘Mighty
Rearranger’ which was released in 2005 and received rave reviews.
Then he was asked to play with Plant’s band the Strange Sensation
around the world, which lead to an outstanding live performance
reputation. Tinariwen’s third album ‘Aman Iman’, produced by Justin,
was released in 2007 and went on to became album of the year.
WOMAD 2010 saw a brilliant collaboration between Justin Adams and
Juldeh Camara. Just coming off a string of gigs, Justin and Juldeh
have a deep of sense of communication which electrified the
audience. The Siam Tent, where the duo were playing, was jam packed
and certainly hit a cord with the spectators. The end of the show
saw the crowd running to buy the CDs.
Copyright Dave Bell