Monday, October 29, 2012

Menconi Rides The Ryan Adams Train

Raleigh music critic and writer David Menconi’s latest book, Losering: A Story of Whiskeytown, details the frenetic existence of musician and song-writer Ryan Adams. Starting with his humble beginnings in Jacksonville, NC as a teenage runaway, the book traverses through his trials and tribulations in Raleigh and on the road to become a local musical hero - and his inevitable landing upon the unsteady ledges at the pinnacle of rock legend. 

Menconi, a first class passenger on that wild ride, recounts anecdotes from those closest to the Ryan Adams saga.  His personal relationship with the myriad of characters, friends and band mates - who  played with or were offended and scared off -  accurately re-creates  the early Adams era:  the days on Daisy Street, and performances at The Brewery, Sadlack’s and other legendary Raleigh rock joints, solidify his status as Raleigh legend before the international success and pop stardom he achieved later in his career catapulted him into the blinding lights of celebrity. 

Appearances on Saturday Night Live and MTV changed him. And his on- stage antics became front page stories.  Hard drinking, substance abuse, egomania and narcissism are demons still haunting Adams, but his stubborn persistence and uncanny ability to  write, play and sing powerful songs keeps him going.

As Menconi understands, cutting his musical teeth in Raleigh gave Ryan Adams the access to take his raw bravado as a young punk into the majesty of real country music. Whatever powers were working in 1994 matched Adams up with violinist Caitlin Cary, drummer Eric “Skillet” Gilmore, bassist Steve Grothman and guitarist Phil Wandscher.  At the same time, the alternative country genre’s  fast-growing  No Depression Magazine chronicled and disseminated the Ryan Adams aura .This was a magic time for music, and  Ryan Adams was a key reason why..    

-----Daniel MacQuarrie Reeves