Musician. Songwriter. Educator. Social justice advocate. All of these attributes of Adam Davidson-Harden will be on display when he, along with the band Venus Syndrome, launches his tenth album A Thousand Ways at Beau’s Brewery on Friday, November 22, starting at 5 pm.
Adam describes his musical style as being in the “pop/rock vein, but with echoes of soul and punk.” He plays piano, drums, bass, guitar and sings vocals, though his friends Graham Ketcheson (drums) and Huw Davis (bass) play those instruments on this newest release. He recorded his first album in 1997, financed through subscriptions and has since recorded instrumental albums, a children’s album and four as Venus Syndrome. A highlight of his career was the 2012 album Songs From the Ending Road, which he produced with legendary indie musician Ron Hawkins.
Adam writes all his own material and at the launch, he will be joined by Graham Ketcheson, Huw Davis, and Rob Smith on harmonica. The name Venus Syndrome is a climate change phrase, first used in 1988 to describe the trapping of greenhouse gases on the planet Venus, a phenomenon we are now experiencing here on planet Earth.
“I want to make the world a better place,” says Adam, who is married and the father of two boys aged 15 and 11. “My music tends to combine the personal and the political.” He cites an eclectic range of musical influences, from Lennon and McCartney to Nina Simone and Blue Rodeo.
Music and social justice – a family tradition
The album launch will be a homecoming for Adam, who grew up in Vankleek Hill, was taught piano by Ian Hepburn and attended Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute as well as the Canterbury High School in Ottawa. He passed the Grade 8 piano exam at the Royal Conservatory of Music and studied music at university but was turned off by a course in atonal music. He has a PhD in education and has taught in the areas of peace studies and global development at Queen’s University and Wilfrid Laurier.
Adam comes by his musical talent and social commitment naturally. His parents are Rosemary and Reg Harden who conduct the three Acquire choirs in Vankleek Hill. Rosemary teaches piano and Adam’s brother and sister are also musicians. Older brother Joel is the NDP MLA in Ontario for Ottawa South and younger sister Andrea, who occasionally plays violin with Venus Syndrome, works for Ottawa consulting firm MediaStyle as a Senior Strategist.
The choice of Beau’s for the A Thousand Ways launch is also a natural. Adam went to school with Steve and Jennifer Beauchesne, and performed at the 2012 Oktoberfest. “I love craft beer,” he admits. ”Every one that Beau’s makes.” Sounds like a match for a perfect evening on November 22.
Beau’s Brewery is located at 10 Terry Fox Drive in Vankleek Hill.