You’ll be hard pressed to find videos of Adrian Lewis performing as The Age on YouTube and other social media. You may find a few clips of him strumming on his electric guitar, but nothing more than a minute or two. There’s a purpose behind that.
On stage, Lewis is as cool — as the late Stuart Scott would say — as the other side of the pillow. It’s him and a captivated crowd hushed at attention as they swim through the placid waters of a soulful piece he played his guitar. This was the scene that played out during a performance at Alive at Five last June. It was a night in which he and his band opened for The B.B. King Blues Band with Tito Jackson. It was a night in which he wasn’t feeling well, and his sister Wanda flawlessly stepped in to sing vocals. Despite it all, people walked out from underneath the 787 overpass remembering the Lewis 2 over the Jackson 5.
That was the kind of summer Lewis had last year. Without much of a catalog of songs, The Age earned four of the top area stages starting with Tulip Fest, followed by Rockin’ on the River, Alive at Five and Lark Fest. Lewis has a pedigree unlike any here in the Capital District. His father and two uncles formed the backbone to Atlantic Starr. That was his father, David, singing the male part of the 1985 hit duet “Secret Lovers.”
“He’s my biggest inspiration,” said Adrian.
Adrian grew up with the 518 being his home; Preston Hollow, specifically. Where at night people can escape the light pollution from the Capital City by visiting Rensselaerville, Preston Hollow is a dozen miles further southwest. That’s about the length of six Motown songs if you’re listening in your car. That’s how Adrian’s education in music first started; he, listening to music, while his father asked him what he had heard.
Adrian grew up with an appreciation for soul musicians like Stevie Wonder. The Grammy Award-winning artist earned commercial success while playing his Hohner Clavinet keyboard on hits like “Superstition.” Fans marvel at his ability to play keyboard as a blind man. Adrian sees Wonder’s ability to take the complexity of his music and make it sound so simple. Adrian initially pursued his musical career on the West Coast before returning back to the Capital District with a new “neo-soul” sound of his own to capture.
The Age is gearing up for something larger than last year’s tetrad of shows. Adrian is collecting material so he can package it in a pitch to a record label. The band recently recruited guitarist John Drabik of Wurliday. He has a style to himself, complete with sneakers and cuffed blue jeans, that resembles something out of the ‘50s. You see it whenever he gets caught up in a solo. He stands up on his tippy-toes.
“I can hear his heart when he plays,” said Adrian.
With Drabik in the lineup, Adrian said he can slide into rhythm guitar. It also allows him to concentrate more on vocals. Close your eyes and you can hear a bit of his father’s voice. Sonically, you hear more. Adrian, a humbled man whose time at church is important to him, said he likes to surround himself with talent. He’s always learning.
Two weeks ago, The Age released a new single “Afford” on Spotify. The event was celebrated with a performance on the outdoor patio behind Superior Merchandise Company in Troy. Nothing overhead but a few lights and the dark canopy of night. There was no telling what was up above, except that only the sky was the limit.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.