Jewish singer, songwriter and bandleader Adam Ezra, who is from Boston, just played a rousing show in Decatur at Eddie’s Attic, and is becoming known for putting his money where his mouth is. Ezra spoke to the AJT about all of it.
AJT: What can audiences expect when they go to your shows?
Ezra: We never go into a show with a plan. I write hundreds of songs and every night when we go on stage, we don’t know what we’re going to play. My favorite concerts are the ones that are inspired by the moment and feel like a conversation between me and the audience. One of the joys of playing with my band is being able to feature each incredible player individually. We sing a lot of harmony these days, especially when we play in markets that are just finding out about us. We’ll unplug and hop off the stage, play music and hang with the audience. Whatever it is, it will be an adventure.
AJT: Tell us about your band.
Ezra: We have a fiddle player who also plays accordion, a bass player who plays electric and upright, a drummer who plays a Frankenstein kit with traditional elements as well as hand percussion and even a muffler. I play acoustic guitar mostly, but also some banjo and harmonica and resonator.
AJT: Let’s talk about how you’ve incorporated activism into your life and career.
Ezra: I’ve been playing music for a bunch of years now and early on we didn’t have much of an audience. We would play in any bar that would hire us. I’ve always believed that music, like nothing else, has the ability to empower and connect community, and that inspires me as much as the music itself. We’ve made giving back in one way or another a priority and part of the mission, and that can encompass a very wide range of issues and causes.
AJT: What is The Ramble all about?
Ezra: Ten years ago, just as our fan base was beginning to stretch beyond the borders of Boston, we decided that in addition to playing charity events, we wanted to create and build our own live event. We called it The Ramble. It was right after that massive earthquake that devastated Haiti, so we partnered with a great organization called Partners in Health and raised money through The Ramble to support the folks down there that were struggling. Over the following years The Ramble took on different causes. One year we raised money for Feed America [providing] 35,000 meals for families in need. Another time we helped raise enough money to build a park in a gang-infested area outside Boston – a green space that kids could be safe in.
AJT: But now it’s mostly about war veterans?
Ezra: I’ve always felt The Ramble should be shaped by the community that shares it and is dedicated to it. It really came together on another level over something that struck us all deeply – it was really impactful. So now The Ramble has dedicated its mission to end veterans’ homelessness. There are 1,600 of them, give or take, in northeast New England that struggle to find a place to sleep every night. I think it’s a travesty and we can do something tangible about it. This year over 4,000 people attended The Ramble in Boston and we were able to raise enough money to get 50 of our heroes off the streets and into safe and dignified housing.
AJT: You also have something called RallySound.
Ezra: It’s a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, a foundation through which we give back in different ways. It’s a way for me and my band to not only continue the activism that inspires us, but it can also help empower other artists to do the same. As time unfolds and RallySound becomes more established, we aim to support other artists to support other causes. That’s a pretty rewarding thing as well.
AJT: The Senda Verde Wildlife Sanctuary in Bolivia is run by the family of your bass player Poche Ponce, right?
Ezra: Yes. People don’t know that the Amazon forest stretches well into Bolivia and a lot of those fires have been incredibly destructive. Even though Senda Verde is technically an animal refuge, in times of crisis, community leaders become leaders in all sorts of other ways and Senda Verde has been doing extraordinary things to support the locals through the fires that have raged throughout the country. Because there is so much corruption, oftentimes it is up to the folks who are not governmental leaders to make a difference.
AJT: So you still find time to write songs?
Ezra: That’s the stuff that feeds me. We have already released two albums this year. I do an annual tour called Get Folked to raise the vote. We have hundreds of fans who apply to host house concerts around the country. We are also working on another studio album. With a 200-plus tour schedule, it’s been challenging to balance studio, activism and touring. I need to make room for it all, but luckily for me I love every aspect of my job.