By Anthony Lewis, Staff Writer
Before I sat down in the unforgiving chairs of Nordica Auditorium’s adjacent green room, I first had to negotiate the stairs. My feet settled into grooves worn away by over a century of footsteps; these steps groaning in objection beneath me. I was on my way to meet Adam Morrison, a transfer student from SMCC in South Portland and the man behind the recent series of shows known as the Nordica Sessions.
I had half an image in my head of the man I was about to meet. Accounts from friends painted him as an intense, passionate man with an industrious attitude and a freewheeling spirit. Lauren Crosby, one of three musicians featured thus far in the Sessions, described him as “a super exotic character.” I was expecting something of a mix between Travis Bickle, Jerry Garcia, and Kramer from Seinfeld.
Given the image crafted for me of Morrison, you can imagine my surprise when a solemn, soft-spoken man with messy brown hair and a distant gaze shook my hand and sat down across from me. While he told me about the Nordica Sessions, it was clear why he had been described as passionate by more than one of his friends; his eyes flashed as he spoke of his project. He obviously had a penchant for this.
“My roommate’s a musician,” he said, absentmindedly picking at a spot of raised lacquer on the tabletop. “He plays a lot of acoustic, kind of folky music. I just love music, and a lot of my favorite music is, like, acoustic versions of bands” Morrison mentioned a similar project called the Cardinal Sessions on a YouTube channel which features live, acoustic acts from around the country. He said that his idea stemmed from these sessions, but with a focus on the local scene. “I’m just trying to get local musicians up on the internet, ‘cause there’s a lot of great talent around here.”
Shooting and editing is nothing new to Morrison, who’s been recording his friends since he was a high schooler in Calais.
“I’m a video student, and I’ve been making videos since high school; skate videos and stuff.” A skateboarder, snowboarder, hiker, and bona fide adventurer, Morrison has been shooting his experiences for years. The Nordica Sessions seemed like a natural next step for an experienced video student in a community of musicians. “I’m really just trying to help out my friends who are musicians. And I figured, y’know, the acoustics are great in here, so I’d try and get something going.”
Crosby has high praise for both the project, and for Nordica itself.
“The Nordica Sessions are a great idea, and I think they add to the Farmington arts scene,” said Crosby in an email. “We need more like this! Showcasing UMF artists, musicians, dancers, visual performers, etc. I’d even like to see more like this in Nordica.” Crosby mentioned that she loves the acoustics in Nordica, claiming “you can’t get any better [acoustics] on campus, besides maybe that spot right outside the Snack Bar.”
Despite not being a musician himself, although he admits to dabbling in the African djembe from time to time, Morrison has an obvious passion for music; one which is rooted in psychedelic rock and the old classics.
“I’ve been really into Deer Tick lately,” said Morrison in reference to his current musical tastes. “When I was a kid, I started listening to classic rock and stuff. I was super into Black Sabbath as a kid; Ozzy and everything,” mentioning the last name with a smile. “Obviously all the old classics, Pink Floyd, The Beatles. I’m more into sort of acoustic, folky stuff now, like…” Morrison paused, twirling his finger in the air as he thought, “…Shakey Graves is a good one. Ben Caplan, who’s this dude up in Canada, who I found on a similar session. There’s this video of just him in the woods with his guitar.” Morrison also mentioned Jack White of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs as a recent favorite. “He’s kind of an emotional dude, I guess, and he’s kind of just pissed off at everybody.”
When it comes to the future of the Nordica Sessions, Morrison has high hopes. Up until now, he’s been recording his videos with a personal camera and only one microphone, but he’s looking into setting up multiple devices for the performances he has yet to capture.
“Hopefully, I’m gonna try to get in touch with Gustavo [Aguilar] to try and get legit mics; maybe mic the acoustic guitars and the vocalists. Maybe eventually progress even into some electric recordings; maybe get a band in there.”
Morrison left as quickly as he’d come. We wrapped up after twenty minutes had flown by, our conversation ending with an abrupt handshake and exchange of information. A shameless self-promoter, I made sure he had a link to the music I have online.
Morrison’s YouTube channel is called Nordica Sessions, so far featuring Scott Carpenter and Lindsay & Lauren. About five minutes each, both videos are more than worth a listen.