Kithfolk's team got the chance to meet young songwriter Adam Bonomo at MerleFest this year. Watching him take first place in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest and then perform on the Cabin Stage in front of thousands of people, I was taken aback by his blend of country lyricism with jazz-soul keyboarding. This video for "Water" is mesmerizing; a beautiful tribute to the people of New York City and to the raw beauty of Bonomo's songwriting.
Read the full interview with Adam Bonomo below!
How old are you? Where are you based?
I’m 26 and I'm based in NYC.
What got you into music?
I come from a musical family, so music had always been something that was regular around the house. Both my parents and sister are musicians. My mother a concert pianist and father an organist. My sister is a well known clarinetist in San Francisco where she performs regularly with the orchestra she helped create “One Found Sound.” From a young age I had always admired the piano from afar. At 18 years old I had met our guitarist Andrew Renfroe as he was finishing up a rehearsal with another group and noticed an empty piano bench. I sat down, and just made something up. That was a pivotal moment where it became clear that I should be playing piano. After a handful of piano lessons, I auditioned for University of North Florida as a jazz pianist and to everyone's surprise I was accepted. Once I decided to test my engines and made the move to NYC the music capitol of the world. I began performing regularly and developing my concept which eventually lead to the forming of this band.
How long have you written songs?
I’ve always been creating. Always humming. Always improvising.
What is it about songwriting that keeps you coming back for more?
I see songwriting as a chance to inspire hope. Ill take any opportunity I can get to try and spread some hope!
What did it feel like to win Chris Austin Songwriting Contest and perform in front of all those people? What other contests have you won?
It is a great gift to have one’s pursuits acknowledged and we were thrilled to have that from such a respected authority in music. We’ve been finalist’s in the NewSong music competition where we made our debut at Lincoln Center and we’ve placed in the Indie International Songwriting Competition top 5.
What inspired the song “Water”?
I don’t mean to let you down, but I make it a point not to impose my thoughts on what I wrote upon the listener. I love it when two different people hear my music and get or feel something different. I wouldn’t want to take away from that If it were potentially about a glass of water I had for breakfast. (It’s not!)
What’s the story behind the video? Who made it?
I teamed up with a good friend and renowned photographer Marian Sell and traversed the streets of NYC taking photos of over 161 different people. We took anyone who happened to walk by and was nice enough to spare a moment. In the beginning we didn’t really know what we might get, but after two full days of taking pictures in various locations we were amazed at just how beautiful the portraits were. It’s a little sentimental for us because we actually got to meet and talk to each person you see and each respectively comes with a little story. It happened to line up perfectly with the narrative of the music.
Who are you biggest influences?
When we perform, each person in the family is allowed their voice. So our influences cover a wide range of music!
Fats Waller, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Bach, Chopin, Brahams, Billy Eckstine, Quincy Jones, Bootsy Collins, James Brown, Celia Cruz, Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Andey Bey, Marvin Gaye, Andre Crouch, Donny Hathaway, Hezekiah Walker, The Caravans, Timothy Wright, Bill Monroe, Punch Brothers, I could go on for a long time! Essentially all of the great contributors, musical relatives, and their offspring.
Shows or touring anytime soon?
BONOMO hosts a Songwriters Showcase every other Sunday at the Rosemont (63 Montrose) in Williamsburg. Often times you can catch us there. We've got a few special performances in NYC which will be listed on the website. http://www.bonomoband.com
What are you goals with music for the future?
We're excited to announce that early July, we’ll be recording our first album! This will be followed by an album release and performances!
BONOMO will be collaborating with San Francisco based orchestra One Found Sound and have our music arranged for the orchestra and a live performance/recording.
By Alexa Peters