Adam Baldwin: Live at The Barns at Wolf Trap

Adam Baldwin

Currently touring in support of Alan Doyle’s 2024 North American spring tour, Dartmouth, NS folk-rocker Adam Baldwin recently made his long overdue return to the Washington DC area. Taking our seats in the balcony at the historic Barns at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA, while we were eager to hear some of Adam’s latest tunes, we could not help eavesdropping on a few conversations from the Alan Doyle fans around us: “Someone called Adam Baldwin is opening…” “Ever heard of this opener?”Is he from Canada too?” 

Not that we interpreted these conversations negatively – no, we found ourselves smiling about the musical delights that they would encounter shortly, and if anything, envied them of that adrenaline rush we knew they would experience once Adam shared both his original tunes and the fascinating (often comical) backstories behind them.  Seated behind a baby grand piano, Adam may have only had a handful of folks throughout the room familiar with his work but I’m betting his name was added to many streaming playlists once he wrapped up a solid 5-song, 30-minute opening set (shame that Adam had no merch available). 

“Good evening, folks, how are ya? Are you alright,” Adam asked as he seated himself at the piano and adjusted his microphone – the crowd responding with enthusiasm. “I’d like to sing you some, well rather dreadful folk songs about where I am from. There are no happy endings, no toe-tappers to speak of really. This first song is called Causeway Road and it’s about a crazy fella in my neighborhood that everyone just calls Crazy Donny.” As the lead track from Adam’s 2022 “Concertos & Serenades” album, this was a great introduction for many to his brand of blue-collar roots-rock music.  

“I wrote this song kind of about some of the things they told me about this guy,” Adam continued, to further build the anticipation. “I changed his name to Danny Fingers, so that if I ran into him at the mailbox or something, I could just say that it’s not about you. As if he wouldn’t recognize the events of his own life.” “They call my Danny Fingers / And how I got that name / Is the source of some contention / so let me set it all straight / I set out for vindication / For my brother’s lost soul / After a dark and dirty betrayal on the Causeway Road.” “Anyway, I winded up moving about a hundred yards from his backyard and we’re best buds,” he would add before launching into his song. “I take him out for a walk usually when I’m home every day. He’s ninety years young and he’s crazier than ever.” 

Adam Baldwin

Four of Adam’s five songs would all be taken from his latest album, the only non-album cut being “Western Star,” a song he recalled adding to the set when playing one of these shows in Kelowna, BC – adding that he believed he could endear himself to a crowd with this reference to the Western Star Heavy-Duty truck plant based in the city – only to learn that those in the room that night could not care less about the company. The fresh material all came packaged with some great tales, in particular the moment when Adam chose to discuss the inspiration behind “Gerald Burgess Racetrack Full Serve Autobody.” 

“I grew up outside of Halifax, our provincial capital, in a place called Fall River, and growing up there, there were no stop lights, there were no supermarkets, there were no police,” he recalled. “Across the street from my house there was a path that went down through the woods [to] a corner store called the Triple A. And when I was ten years old, or whenever, my mother would give me two bucks for allowance, and I’d hike down … to the Triple A. The fellow who ran the place, his name was Bob, and Bob had a white head of hair, a white mustache, he wore a white lab coat and white socks, [and] spent most of the day in the back of that shop butchering venison. He was always covered from head to toe in the blood of a deer.” Pausing for the laughter bouncing through the barn, Adam would continue. “And that’s who I bought bubblegum from as a ten-year old. Anyway, this song is not about that corner store – despite the fact I just spent five minutes talking about it – there was a gas station next door and that’s what this song is about, but there was nothing particularly funny to say about it.”  

Adam Baldwin

With a dark (yet simultaneously hilarious) tale about a character who returns home from the second world war to work the night shift in a Spring Hill, NS coal mine in 1945 (“No. 2 Colliery”), Adam once again provided plenty of color commentary behind the song. “That’s a folk song, I probably could have stopped right there [with] three verses about that fellow, but I proceeded onward into the darkness,” he offered, pausing again for the chuckles in response. “I decided that our hero, Arthur – I gave him a name to make it hurt a little bit more – he will find out that his wife and brother are carrying on an extra-marital affair, she has become pregnant, and it’s the 40s and 50s, so there’s no Maury Povich show to find out who the daddy is. It never occurs to him that his brother could be the father of his child, which I think is tragic as well. He will then go on to gamble all his money away betting on horse races … and of course, I will bury him in a mine at the end of the song.” The room erupted at this point, Adam having everybody in attendance eating out of his hand and hanging on every word. 

If I were to offer just one small critique, it would be his performance of “Lighthouse in Little Lorraine” that ultimately closed his set. A standout track from “Concertos & Serenades,” the studio version benefits from some hauntingly beautiful violin accompaniment from his good friend Kendel Carson. Yes, THE Kendel Carson who just so happened to be in the building, backstage with Alan Doyle’s touring band. Chalk it up to a missed opportunity, I guess, but imagine how extra special that one-song collaboration could have been for those of us in attendance.   

Prior to this closing song, Adam would take time to address the room one last time, offering his gratitude to the headliner himself. “I cannot thank [Alan] enough for taking me out on this run of shows, first in Canada and now down here,” he offered. “The act of sharing a stage and one’s hard-earned audience with a… I was almost going to say a young up-and-comer, but I’m not young anymore… but it’s the kindest thing a person can do. Alan is the kindest fellow you can ever hope to meet, and I’ve been lucky to cross his path. I can’t thank him enough.” For those of us left craving more, Adam would be invited back to the stage later that evening – but you’ll have to wait for our recap of Doyle’s performance to learn more. 

Set List: 

  1. Causeway Road 
  2. Gerald Burgess Racetrac Full Serve Autobody 
  3. Western Star 
  4. No. 2 Colliery 
  5. Lighthouse In Little Lorraine 

Photo Credit: Sonic Entertainment Group 

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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