Profiling Rockstar Professor and U of T alumnus John Adames
Dr. John Adames, a professor of English and Music at Seneca College, assumes dual identities as both a University of Toronto Alumnus and an avid drummer that has graced the stages from the Rex to Broadway. These two identities don't trouble him in the least–they actually began at the same time.
It all started at the age of twelve, when Adames was taken aback with the infectious energy of Bob Dylan. Dylan’s poetic lyrics introduced Adames to challenging metaphors and literary complexity.
Studying music throughout his time at school was a positive experience for Adames. Prioritizing his education, he was selective about the amount of music he played while studying. Though, this didn’t stop him from letting music have its due: in an interview with Adames he articulated with particular fondness the time during his undergraduate studies where he told his professor that he had to miss a week of class to play on Broadway.
Adames, who has played with the likes of Norm Hacking, Prairie Oyster and the Bebop Cowboys has had his share of memorable experiences in the music industry. He recalled the time he was playing in a band named Rough Trade between 1978 and 1979.
Rough Trade was creating the music for the Al Pacino movie, Cruising. He was recording in the Hit Factory in New York, working with the acclaimed producer Jack Nitzsche. They were working on generating an explosive sound at the end of a verse that the pianist could not get right. Nitzsche, who was in his 70s at the time, went to the other side of the studio where the musicians were and stacked a series of chairs behind the amps. He calmly put on headphones and listened to the song. As the song approached the end of the verse they were working on, Nitzsche jumped off the chairs onto the amp, creating a devastating explosion, one that no piano could ever make.
Being part of both rock music culture as well as the world of academic English has simultaneously developed Adames’ musical ear and enhanced his study in literature: “All music uses form in one way or another. Repetition and modulation appear in both literature and music.” “One reinforces the other,” Adames said.comments powered by Disqus