by Adam Levy

After my shows, I often get questions about my style of guitar playing—in particular, who my influences are. Some are obvious, I guess. Yes, I have listened to a lot of Bill Frisell and John Scofield, and I also love Jeff Beck, Jim Hall, and Ry Cooder. These guys are the players I listened to most throughout my 20s and early 30s. I’m in my mid 40s now, and I still find gold in them thar’ hills.

There are many great modern-day guitarists, playing beautifully and innovatively, and I try to check out new players whenever I can. Have you heard Noël Akchoté? Or Michael Daves? Or Jakob Bro?

I also find myself going back to the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, trying to fill in the gaps in my historical knowledge. The guitar tracks that I’m most excited by lately are George Barnes’ rendition of “Little Rock Getaway” (so swinging and articulate), Snooks Eaglin’s “Funky Malagueña” (personalizing a well-worn chestnut and clearly enjoying himself), Al Anderson’s “You’re Just Laughing Inside” (bare-naked Tele tone, soulful phrasing), and Otis Redding’s “Ton of Joy“—with Steve Cropper on guitar (matching Redding’s toughness and joyfulness).

I’m still as much a guitar fan now as I was when I was just starting. That excitement—sometimes to the point of giddiness—is one of the things that keeps me coming back to the instrument day after day, week after week, year after year. It keeps the calluses on my fingers and a smile on my face, and my I’m grateful for it.

What keeps you picking and grinning?

Adam LevyA longtime friend of the ‘Fire, Adam Levy has been unlocking the guitar for students of all levels and varied interests for decades. His teaching experience comprises several years with the National Guitar Workshop, the Blue Bear School in San Francisco, and private lessons for New School in New York City. He is also a talented artist and songwriter, having worked with Norah Jones, Amos Lee, and Tracy Chapman. Be sure to check out Adam’s official website, his insightful blog, and his latest album, The Heart Collector.