Adam McGrath is a folk singer stationed wherever he lands. He travels the state highways and byways of New Zealand, Australia, Europe and parts beyond, slinging songs and offering up low rent barroom philosophy with his band of misfits and chancers, The Eastern. He hopes for the best, prepares for the worst and believes in Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, libraries, and singalongs. He lives alone, cooks infrequently and is scared of flags that blow to the right. He is happiest in front of a jukebox as the call for last drinks is given, because jukeboxes are getting harder to find, and the last drinks call means the lock in is ever closer. His songs have gathered more than their share of good reviews in NZ and overseas, he’s been nominated for a couple of serious music awards (including the Apra Silver Scroll), Graham Reid from the NZ herald called him ‘NZ’s toughest minded songwriter’ and Barry Saunders from The Warratahs simply described him as “The Truth” while Radio New Zealand refered to him as a “National Treasure”.
With The Eastern and solo he has shared stages with and opened for Fleetwood Mac, Steve Earle, Old Crow Medicine Show, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, Rodriguez, Damien Dempsey, Jim White, Justin Townes Earle, Willie Watson, Hayes Carll and many more. But he takes the most pride in getting up and putting it down, in both small towns and big, and the joy of shaking hands and sharing beers with the folks met along the way.
His song ‘Hope and Wire’ became the inspiration for the tv3 drama series ‘Hope and Wire’ directed by Gaylene Preston, and he was noted for his community work during the Christchurch earthquake. Playing over 50 free shows for people in Christchurch as well as collating the succesful Harbour Union project which included local friends Marlon Williams, Delaney Davidson and Lindon Puffin among others.
The Eastern are renowned for their ferocious roof raising live shows and have gathered a reputation for being the country’s hardest working band playing up to and beyond 200 shows a year, every year. Their latest album ‘The Territory’ was described as one of the best albums of 2014 from any band in any country by No Depression magazine.
Although the gathering of such plaudits makes him blush behind his rapidly graying beard, McGrath is very thankful and hopes that in someway this might help him in continuing to pay his rent through his roundabout stories and admittedly pretty crappy guitar playing. A people’s player, he works his ass off for any audience he finds himself in front of. Through, yarns, ballads and barnstormers, he goes looking most nights of the year for that deep well of magic that threads through the humble folk song. Described as “two parts Woody Guthrie, one part revival meeting and one part group hug” a McGrath show goes straight for the spirit level in all of us. Looking deep for the heart and hoping to reach the thinking part of the brain all the while strumming his three chords like his life depended on it. Which of course it does, as of course it should.
Sometimes joined by his hard driving and sympathetic rhythm section “The Roaring Days”, A McGrath show swings wild and raw, swelling your heart, moving your feet and going deep for your thinking muscle. Stories and songs and boundless energy, this a show to be moved by.
****-Q magazine (UK)
“NZ’s toughest minded songwriter”-Graeme Reid
“One of the best modern roots artists, from any country” -No Depression magazine
“A national treasure”-Radio NZ National
“Fucking Amazing, what a voice”-Damien Dempsey