Guitarist and composer Adrian Bridges, a versatile musician steeped in the many traditions of Western music, has found his calling adapting American roots music for the 21st century. He draws on the language of the blues, adapting the organic music to more formal structures to create a sound that is simultaneously familiar and fresh.
Growing up in Philadelphia as the son of a longtime radio DJ, whose family roots extend to New Orleans, Adrian was exposed to a diverse catalog of American music, including rock, bluegrass, and soul. However, it was at age four, upon participating in a school performance of The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” that his passion for music really took off. At that point, Adrian indoctrinated himself in the early classic rock of The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and The Beach Boys. The Beatles’ mix of popular rhythms and harmony with highly structured development remain a great influence to this day.
At age six, Adrian began his formal musical training, studying classical guitar at Philadelphia’s esteemed Settlement Music School, where he would continue through high school before attending New York University as a jazz guitar major. He was honored there as a Presser Scholar and has continued his studies in the department as a masters student in jazz composition, honing the academic knowledge he adds to his highly crafted pieces.
Following his early influences, Adrian has developed as a blues-based singer-songwriter, giving equal attention to music and lyrics that recall the tradition of the genre while incorporating longer structures and more complex harmony. His music is centered around groove-oriented guitar playing that is not flashy, but always in the pocket, regularly bursting into melodic riffs, juxtaposed with an honest storytelling voice that personalizes his tales, recalling Paul Simon and Bill Withers. He brings his academic understanding of music to the aural tradition, to create a sound that’s been described as “blues with classical fingers.”
Adrian’s dedication to American roots music extends to his concert compositions, which similarly reinvigorate the classical repertoire, building on the 1950s third stream movement and updating it to include a more rhythmically-oriented vocabulary, which he has refined with his teacher Ezequiel Viñao. Seeking to erase the boundaries between classical and jazz, Adrian has been writing music which combines the more structured nature of the former with rhythms and harmony more frequently found in the latter.
Adrian has also been recrafting existing material with Ionie & The Modes, a standards trio that swings between tin pan alley, blues, and folk. Along with singer, Ionie, and pianist, Sam Bachelder, the trio has built a repertoire that combines these divergent American styles with a singular instrumentation and reinvention through rhythmic and harmonic updates along with guitar effects.
As a guitarist, Adrian has also had the opportunity to tour Italy with his jazz group, The Afterthought Quartet, playing top venues across the country such as The Blue Note in Milan, Ferrara’s Torrione Jazz Club, Take Five Jazz Club in Bologna, and The Florence International Music Festival. He can regularly be found performing around New York in musical theater productions and with his various groups.