THE MICHAEL McADAM STORY
Sometime in early January of 1964,Kathy McAdam screamed up the stairs to her little brother, “Michael, hurry up; they’re on the radio!” At first listen, even to the ears of a little kid, Michael knew that this was not like any of the rock ‘n roll that he had heard before on the radio. Though It felt like years, it was only weeks until he and his sister got their first glimpse of The Beatles live on the Ed Sullivan Show. “One of those life altering moments” says McAdam. He immediately withdrew to his bedroom with Kathy’s guitar (she had dreamed of becoming the Joan Baez of Richmond, Virginia), and she never got her hands on the guitar again.
His first working band, the Emotions, was formed in junior high
Within the year, McAdam and several other neighborhood kids, all stricken by Beatlemania, put together the first in a string of garage bands that would fumble through the latest releases by the Beatles, the Stones, and other “British Invasion” bands, but they kept improving. His first working band, the Emotions, was formed in junior high and continued gigging more and more into high school, eventually winning the Virginia Battle of the Bands, which quickly led to a busy schedule playing dances, frat parties, and, armed with fake IDs, the college bars on Richmond’s Grace Street, playing a mixture of roots rock ‘n roll, soul, psychedelia, and country rock. After high school, the guys in the band went their separate ways, though they all continued to play live music.
After a brief stay in the Virginia Commonwealth University department of music, McAdam bummed around Florida and North Carolina for a while, playing music and working construction, but he wound up back in Richmond after about a year. He hooked up with an R&B group called Natural Black, which became “Natural Black and Company” when McAdam and Charlie Kilpatrick, the other white kid, joined the band. After about a six-month stint with NB&Co., McAdam and old pal Jimmy Morgan moved to Nagshead, North Carolina, and began performing as “The Wrong Brothers.” The duo saw a summer that was “a ton of fun but not the most musically fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.” McAdam and Morgan moved back to Richmond to put together a new band with a rhythm section consisting of old friends and former bandmates. What they came up with became known as The Good Humor Band.
The GHB would earn the distinction of being a breeding ground for big time Nashville sidemen and session musicians
The Good Humor Band quickly became one of the most popular bands in town, and after some initial personnel changes, became one of the most popular bands on the MD/DC/VA/NC club circuit (see more at www.goodhumorband.com). They enjoyed a reputation for first-rate musicianship, having a repertoire of hundreds of songs, and yes, a penchant for somewhat spirited behavior. As the years passed, the GHB would earn the distinction of being a breeding ground for big time Nashville sidemen and session musicians.
After playing an exhausting schedule on the East Coast bar circuit for eight years, and recording a very respectable album in 1982, the GHB still failed to garner any major label interest. They went their separate ways at the end of 1982.The band still does an annual reunion show in Richmond that draws well.
After a little coaxing, McAdam pulled up stakes again and moved to Nashville to become a “Duke.”
After the GHB split, McAdam became hired gun in a country cover band that played at a Richmond country music nightclub. “I didn’t love the gig,” deadpanned McAdam, “ it was six nights a week, five sets a night, but we did get to play a lot of real country music, Haggard, Jones and such. It sure didn’t hurt my country chops.” After a year and a half of the country gig, McAdam got an offer to join the popular Brice Street Band in North Carolina, touring and recording with them for over a year when a phone call came from GHB alumnus Bucky Baxter. A new artist named Steve Earle was finishing an album called Guitar Town and they needed a guitarist. McAdam replied, “You’re in Nashville and you can’t find a damn guitar player?” Bucky assured McAdam that he was the perfect guy for the gig. After a little coaxing, McAdam pulled up stakes again and moved to Nashville to become a “Duke.”
The next four years found McAdam constantly touring the U.S., Canada, and Europe with Steve Earle and the Dukes. He recorded his first major-label album, Exit 0, with Steve and numerous records and a movie soundtrack. Countless videos and all of the late night TV appearances followed. A phone call from another GHB alumnus, Bruce Bouton, landed a gig with Foster and Lloyd, another hip, influential young country act of the era. What little time McAdam had off from the Dukes was spent touring with Foster and Lloyd. The constant touring went on until 1990, when more studio work started to trickle in, eliminating the need to constantly be on the road. While continuing to do recording sessions in Nashville, Mike did tours and a couple of records with B.J. Thomas, Lee Roy Parnell, and Mary Chapin Carpenter that kept him busy through 1990 and 1991.
The next few years were spent touring and making records with Radney while doing session work in Nashville and Muscle Shoals.
By 1992 Radney Foster and Bill Lloyd had gone their separate ways, launching solo careers. McAdam accepted an offer from Radney to be his bandleader/guitarist/right-hand man. The next few years were spent touring and making records with Radney while doing session work in Nashville and Muscle Shoals on the side. By 1995, Mike and studio partner Jack Irwin completed construction on their own recording studio, Silvertone Recording Service. All the while McAdam kept himself busy working with Jim Lauderdale, Greg Trooper, Charlie Major, Jeff Black, Jack Ingram, Flaco Jimenez, Charlie Robison, Bruce Robison, and numerous other indie album projects, many at Silvertone.
In the early 2000s, McAdam completed his first solo album, A Million Miles. Though the self released album didn’t make him a household name, the album did receive critical acclaim in numerous publications. Meanwhile, Mike continued doing sessions and one-offs with artists like Amy Rigby, Southside Johnny, Deana Carter, Kevin Welch, Bill Lloyd, Lee Roy Parnell, Pinmonkey, Kevin Montgomery, The Mavericks, Bap Kennedy and others, leading to a long term gig and numerous albums with Chris Knight, and spending countless winters performing in Key West with his own bands on the side. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020 the music business slammed shut, through it all Mike concentrated on finishing production on his new album, “Tremolo”, while resorting to doing carpentry gigs, the trade he learned in his teens and twenties between bands.
With the new year of 2022, a (hopefully) winding down pandemic, and the release of “Tremolo”, Michael is looking forward to getting out on the road to do some live dates again, in support of the new record. “Tremolo” is due for an April 2022 release.