Torey Adler
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Torey Adler

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THOMAS DIMOPOULOS 03/19/2004

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Torey Adler was sitting in a coffeehouse on Broadway one afternoon before a gig. He recalled the first time he came here.

'The local scene was much different in 1991,' said Torey, as in Torey and The Roughs, a musical trio that includes bass player Tony Markellis and drummer Zak Trojano. 'I had a very pop-oriented sensibility when I first came here and I didn't know anything about the area (musically).'


It was Skidmore College that originally brought Torey to the region. In short order, both his days and nights were filled with learning experiences.

'Caffè Lena was where I learned about songwriting and about music that works one-on-one,' he said, fidgeting with a burgundy twine strung with miniature Tibetan carvings that is slung around his wrist. 'I started learning about artists like Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly and that led me to the blues players -- guys like Robert Johnson, Son House and Skip James.

'I started seeing the continuum from the blues through the Rolling Stones and realizing that it wasn't wholly independent from Bob Dylan-type of songwriting. It was all drawn from the same vein,' Torey said.

'You can call it blues; you can call it soul, but you know it when you hear it. It's like Duke Ellington said: 'There's only two kinds of music -- the good music and the other kind.' I started tapping into the good music when I was up here.'

Torey was born in New York City, 'in the dead-center of Manhattan.' He grew up, put out an album called 'Freedom Highway,' and then hit the road.

'I went out to San Francisco for six years with this half-baked notion of 'Let me see if I can make it in the music business.' I ended up being a lead guitar player for a number of different bands,' he said.

Those included stints with The Counting Crows and Sheryl Crow's band, appearances in support of legends like Chuck Berry and shows at hallowed rock 'n' roll palaces like The Fillmore Theatre.

'It was great, and I played some big shows with some major figures. But after six years out there, I realized I was missing certain elements of the music scene back in Saratoga,' Torey said. 'I started thinking about what my role should be. I realized that what I do best is writing songs and communicating my (musical) vision.'

He returned to the East Coast last year with a handful of tracks that were started in San Francisco. Torey headed to Boston to record with friend and drummer Mike Migliozzi, then returned to Saratoga Springs, where bass player Tony Markellis got involved.

'Tony was excited enough to offer some bass playing, and I wasn't going to turn a musician of that caliber down. Tony brought it up to where I realized that it wasn't just a side project, it became a record,' Torey said.

The result was the 10-song CD, 'Earthed,' that captures Torey the songwriter and Torey the musician. He is a savvy stylist on the six-string, the music coiling around his acoustic anthems and swings to countrified rhythms, all the while tinged with the hint of a bluesy sorrow or bursting in an outright celebration of grooves.

With just the right amount of road weariness to a voice that is both calm and lyrically frenetic, the words spill from his mouth to fit the tumbling pace: 'A rhythm like a rain dance puts him in a trance, his sunglasses reflect the light/ there's a ghost of an old juke joint in Mississippi, rising up in California tonight.'

He wears his influences on his sleeve, running the gamut of 20th century music, particularly onstage.

'You'll hear it all in a show. We'll do a Johnny Cash cover, and we'll do a Ramones' song. We'll do another by Otis Redding. Most of the songs are originals, but you know we mix it up,' he said.

To Torey, it's about being knowledgeable about musical culture.

'It's important to me to understand where it comes from. I want to create a new music that moves people. If you're cooking the stew, you need to know what goes into the stew -- you can't just throw things at it.

'Music didn't just come into being with the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin,' he says. 'I love those bands, but that's not where music started.'

It is, ironically, where Torey first caught the music bug, when his parents took the then- 8-year-old to see the Rolling Stones tour film 'Let's Spend the Night Together' in the early 1980s.

'Then I pretty much spent the next 10 years trying to get a guitar to sound like Keith Richards',' he laughs.

Early ill-fated attempts included stringing rubber bands over a wooden board and strumming away on a small, child-sized classical guitar. One day it dawned on him.

'I realized what I needed was an electric guitar. It was then that I started understanding about things like distortion and about using tube amps.'

With his own music, he feels that he is straddling both sides of the acoustic/electric fence.

'This is a rock band -- guitar, bass and drums. I feel with the Roughs, t - ©The Saratogian 2004



THOMAS DIMOPOULOS 03/19/2004

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Torey Adler was sitting in a coffeehouse on Broadway one afternoon before a gig. He recalled the first time he came here.

'The local scene was much different in 1991,' said Torey, as in Torey and The Roughs, a musical trio that includes bass player Tony Markellis and drummer Zak Trojano. 'I had a very pop-oriented sensibility when I first came here and I didn't know anything about the area (musically).'


It was Skidmore College that originally brought Torey to the region. In short order, both his days and nights were filled with learning experiences.

'Caffè Lena was where I learned about songwriting and about music that works one-on-one,' he said, fidgeting with a burgundy twine strung with miniature Tibetan carvings that is slung around his wrist. 'I started learning about artists like Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly and that led me to the blues players -- guys like Robert Johnson, Son House and Skip James.

'I started seeing the continuum from the blues through the Rolling Stones and realizing that it wasn't wholly independent from Bob Dylan-type of songwriting. It was all drawn from the same vein,' Torey said.

'You can call it blues; you can call it soul, but you know it when you hear it. It's like Duke Ellington said: 'There's only two kinds of music -- the good music and the other kind.' I started tapping into the good music when I was up here.'

Torey was born in New York City, 'in the dead-center of Manhattan.' He grew up, put out an album called 'Freedom Highway,' and then hit the road.

'I went out to San Francisco for six years with this half-baked notion of 'Let me see if I can make it in the music business.' I ended up being a lead guitar player for a number of different bands,' he said.

Those included stints with The Counting Crows and Sheryl Crow's band, appearances in support of legends like Chuck Berry and shows at hallowed rock 'n' roll palaces like The Fillmore Theatre.

'It was great, and I played some big shows with some major figures. But after six years out there, I realized I was missing certain elements of the music scene back in Saratoga,' Torey said. 'I started thinking about what my role should be. I realized that what I do best is writing songs and communicating my (musical) vision.'

He returned to the East Coast last year with a handful of tracks that were started in San Francisco. Torey headed to Boston to record with friend and drummer Mike Migliozzi, then returned to Saratoga Springs, where bass player Tony Markellis got involved.

'Tony was excited enough to offer some bass playing, and I wasn't going to turn a musician of that caliber down. Tony brought it up to where I realized that it wasn't just a side project, it became a record,' Torey said.

The result was the 10-song CD, 'Earthed,' that captures Torey the songwriter and Torey the musician. He is a savvy stylist on the six-string, the music coiling around his acoustic anthems and swings to countrified rhythms, all the while tinged with the hint of a bluesy sorrow or bursting in an outright celebration of grooves.

With just the right amount of road weariness to a voice that is both calm and lyrically frenetic, the words spill from his mouth to fit the tumbling pace: 'A rhythm like a rain dance puts him in a trance, his sunglasses reflect the light/ there's a ghost of an old juke joint in Mississippi, rising up in California tonight.'

He wears his influences on his sleeve, running the gamut of 20th century music, particularly onstage.

'You'll hear it all in a show. We'll do a Johnny Cash cover, and we'll do a Ramones' song. We'll do another by Otis Redding. Most of the songs are originals, but you know we mix it up,' he said.

To Torey, it's about being knowledgeable about musical culture.

'It's important to me to understand where it comes from. I want to create a new music that moves people. If you're cooking the stew, you need to know what goes into the stew -- you can't just throw things at it.

'Music didn't just come into being with the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin,' he says. 'I love those bands, but that's not where music started.'

It is, ironically, where Torey first caught the music bug, when his parents took the then- 8-year-old to see the Rolling Stones tour film 'Let's Spend the Night Together' in the early 1980s.

'Then I pretty much spent the next 10 years trying to get a guitar to sound like Keith Richards',' he laughs.

Early ill-fated attempts included stringing rubber bands over a wooden board and strumming away on a small, child-sized classical guitar. One day it dawned on him.

'I realized what I needed was an electric guitar. It was then that I started understanding about things like distortion and about using tube amps.'

With his own music, he feels that he is straddling both sides of the acoustic/electric fence.

'This is a rock band -- guitar, bass and drums. I feel with the Roughs, t - ©The Saratogian 2004


Discography

The Puppet King - 2007
Earthed - 2003

Photos

Bio

Torey Adler is a guitar-picking wordsmith and a builder of well-crafted, hardwearing songs. He might be young, but he sounds as though he learned to play in the rural South of the '30s, then came of age in the halcyon days of New York City punk.

On this icy winter day in Massachusetts farm country, the dash of his pickup truck is cluttered with CDs of Woody Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt, Otis Redding, and Skip James. The Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed is playing, loudly, as he downshifts hard into a turn. He is talking about the term "folk-music". "Everything is folk music that folks can play" he says, grinning. "Rock, Adult Contemporary, (he puts an emphasis on the industry term that suggests disdain) pop, country, it's all folk. But I understand what the audience means when they use the term 'folk' and it's different from what a scholar means. In the clubs, my music is folk because I play an acoustic guitar. In my mind I sing modern literature with traditional sounding chords."

Whatever it is, audiences are starting to respond. At tonight's concert they start to sing along with "This Land is Your Land", a song he introduces as "Our real national anthem". A woman in the crowd confides to me later that she has to consider Bruce Springsteen in a new light after hearing "Thunder Road" broken down over sparse ukulele accompaniment. But every request during the show calls for one of Torey's own songs, more remarkable for the fact that most of them are not yet released. His guitar ranges from soft and haunting finger-style airs to driving, punkish romps. His lyrics tell stories, capture stills of urban drama. Torey paints a tableau of the American landscape; highways and depots, cars and trains, of bedeviled loners and innocent girls always moving and always wanting.

Rarely does an artist emerge on the scene with a voice so completely his own who so clearly belongs to a deep folklore. There is tradition behind his words, but you’ve never heard it like this before.