Millions of guitar players have the dream of living in Nashville and finding success as a full-time touring musician for a major artist. Not only did Adam Shoenfeld leave the east coast for the south to make that a dream his reality, but he also found great success as a session player, writer, and producer. Born in New York, and raised in Jersey, Adam introduced a new edge to the country music world that brought out the rockers in red necks and had fans trading the two-step for devil horns. His unique sound has landed him gigs playing on albums for artists like Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Jake Owen, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Big & Rich, and the soundtrack for the hit ABC show, Nashville- just to name a few. That’s My Gig caught up with Adam, between his busy tour dates with Tim McGraw, to find out how he broke into the world of country with ambitious fervor, and found the key to success.
TMG: So Adam, how did the guitar first become a part of your life?
ADAM:I started taking guitar lessons when I was about 4 years old. My parents bought me my first guitar because I spent so much time jumping on my bed, playing air guitar to “Frampton Comes Alive”. I kept taking lessons on and off until high school, and I started writing songs when I was 14.
TMG: Were you playing in a band at that point?
ADAM: At first I spent a lot of time locked in my room with my Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. I was BIG into Yngwie (Malmsteen) and the Shrapnel Records guys, and I would spend hours harmonizing sweeps and two hand licks, bouncing track after track. I was crazy about that stuff. I was in a couple of bands around the same time. Predictably, one was a metal band, but one was a very hippie band that played Bob Dylan,The Grateful Dead, and U2.
TMG: So you were playing mostly covers?
ADAM: I probably played less than 25 cover songs growing up. In both of those bands, half our tunes were originals. I didn’t really learn a lot of other people’s licks because I always thought, “Yeah, I can play that, but they already did.” I was trying to do my own thing at an early age. Looking back now, I wish I had learned some more songs. Of course it’s a lot easier to learn tunes now with a mature ear.