Interview with Adam McDonough

Do the Shore recently caught up with Adam McDonough, a Cape May native and musician.

When did you start playing?

I started learning to play guitar at 13. My cousin Dane showed me a “Stone Temple Pilots” song, then Mrs. Jurewicz lead me to chord structure and more riffs when taking guitar class in Teitelman School. I remember the first few songs I started to write back then and I wouldn’t call them gems. The chorus lyric was, “Baby, I am a wild man…”.
Uhh yea, I was 13.

What instruments do you play?

My main jam is guitar, but I write a lot on piano. It’s good to take a song in progress from guitar to piano and explore the different rhythms and chord inversions that happen.
Like many musicians, I can dabble on bass, drums, ukelele, mandolin, but I wouldn’t suggest hiring me for a gig as I don’t practice them on a regular basis.

What are your fondest musical memories?

*Learning musical structure and how to improvise in Mr. J’s class in High School.
*Practicing and playing Greenday songs over and over in Josh Grassi’s garage with my first band “The Gromits”.
*The many summers nights of playing at the shore with my old band “Black & Tan”.
*My crazy 4 years at Berklee College of Music.
*Forming the band “7Mornings” and moving to Jersey City with my friend John Miller to play and record in NYC. We were lucky enough to later travel to Hollywood and record an EP with top record producer Aaron Johnson (The Fray).
*Opening for James McCartney(Paul’s son) at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC
*Recording my latest record and shooting my first music video in Ventura, CA with good friends from the “Army of Freshmen” (Chris Jay and Aaron Goldberg).

Who influenced you?

I remember as a kid dressing up and rocking out to Michael Jackson. My first cassette tape was “Cloud Nine” by George Harrison. After growing into playing and learning the ropes from my Dad and mentors such as Joe Grassi and Mr. J, I stand by my classic influences such as Tom Petty, The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Stevie Wonder and blues guitar guys like Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jonny Lang.

Why the move to Nashville?

After going to college in Boston, then living in north jersey working the NYC music scene, I felt it was time to shake it up. Nashville is thriving, especially for musicians, songwriters, artists, foodies and just young couples and families looking to live in a city that is cost effective without living in a tiny old beat-up apartment or something. For myself as a songwriter, this small city is filled with publishing and licensing opportunities as well as great collaborations. I am lucky enough that my wife Danielle is adventurous enough to take the leap. The only tough part is being 7 hours from the closest beach.

How would you describe your style? How has it changed over the years?

My style has always been all over the place, but I feel that is what makes me who I am today. Growing up playing so many different genres has made me a better songwriter. So I always classify myself as ‘singer/songwriter, rock, soul, with a twist of country’.
Most of what has changed is in the crafting of melody and lyrical content. As long as someone is consistently writing and living life, it’s hard not to continue to be influenced and try new things.

What do you love most about your profession?
Live shows in the right listening atmosphere or that moment in the studio when you get the chills. The hardest part is trying to find the balance of creative time and making a living.
I’ll let you know when the two are one. Aside from playing, I teach at the ‘School of Rock’ in Nashville. Teaching is an amazing way to remind you how powerful and inspiring music can be.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to begin a career in music?

Better put your blood sweat and tears in.

Visit McDonough’s website at for the most up to date information on his touring schedule and more.