20Q: Catching up with musician Gary McAdams


Angela Major

Editor’s Note: Kicks presents a new feature—20Q—that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.

Gary McAdams

Originally from Teague, Texas, and now based in Clinton, Gary McAdams has performed in venues all across North America and the Caribbean for more than 30 years. Beginning as a teenager, he has been lead vocalist in several regional and national touring acts. 

McAdams’ performance credits include numerous appearances on radio and television as well as Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville; Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, Texas; Buddy Guy’s Blues Legends and Kingston Mines Blues Club in Chicago, along with several venues in Las Vegas and New Orleans. He has shared the stage with such artists as Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakam and LeAnn Rimes.

McAdams also has sung many advertising jingles for regional and national ad campaigns, as well as recording numerous songwriting demos for Nashville and Texas songwriters. He has appeared on recording projects of his own and those of other artists.   

McAdams is lead male vocalist in two bands—The Gary McAdams Band and Rainbow Bridge. The Gary McAdams Band is primarily a roots-based musical project, and Rainbow Bridge is a true variety band celebrating its 40th year performing in Rock County.

For more about McAdams, visit garymcadams.com or search for The Gary McAdams Band on Facebook and YouTube.

1. Do you have any pre-gig rituals? Mostly drink lots of water, try not to eat too soon before a show and tune my guitar. It might be mostly a prop, but by golly I want the prop to be in tune!

2. What type of music did your parents listen to when you were a child? Did it influence your future tastes? Mostly country for both parents, but they also liked some big band/swing stuff. My mother has pretty eclectic music tastes, so she listened to some ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit of blues and some pop music of the day. My dad, on the other hand, thought the Beatles and their “dang long hair” might be infiltrators sent by the Commies! I grew up in the church, so I was around gospel music my whole life. Texas is a very diverse cultural environment, so all those cultural and musical influences came together to form a great combination and absolutely influenced my musical tastes and performing/singing styles.

3. What was the first record/cassette/CD you ever owned? I think it was Bob Seger’s “Live Bullet.”

4. What is your favorite act to see live? Currently, it would be Vince Gill. He’s a true quadruple threat—singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and incredibly versatile. Plus, his band is made up of some of the world’s best musicians.

5. You’ve performed a few advertising jingles for national companies. Can you offer a few lines of lyrics to one people might recognize? “You’re never far away from your next Old Style, it’s the beer we drink around here. Rhythm & blues, it’s the beer that we choose. We drink Old Style here, ‘cause we love our beer.” Not sure if it was played around the stateline area very much, but it was played on Chicago radio for a couple of years and at Wrigley Field for a few seasons.

6. You’re from central Texas. How did you end up in Wisconsin? I was transferred to Chicago in the late ’80s and ended up in the technology business there and in Texas for my “day job.” I have clients and friends in the stateline area, and the Y2K issues brought me back often. I lived in both states during 1999-2001 and then permanently relocated my business in spring 2001, while still traveling back to Texas semi-regularly for business, music and family.

7. Do you collect anything? I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I collect tomato collectibles. Yes, tomatoes. It’s a long story. Don’t hate.

8. If you could meet anyone living or dead, who would it be? Living: George Strait. Dead: Lyndon Baines Johnson.

9. Do you share a birthday with anybody famous? Judy Garland and Prince Phillip (June 10).

10. Can you name three professional wrestlers, past or present? Heck yeah, I can! Can’t everyone? Bruiser Brody, Ric Flair, Wahoo McDaniel and Fritz Von Erich. OK … that’s four!

11. Health food or junk food? Health food-ish. I don’t eat that much junk food; I just eat a lot of the really good stuff.

12. How did you get involved in performing music? My family, on my mother’s side, is very musical. Grandmother, uncles, aunts, siblings, mother, etc., all played instruments and sang. There was always live music around my house and at family/community gatherings. I grew up singing in church and was involved in school music programs from the age of 12 or so on.

13. Have you ever been booed or heckled onstage? I don’t recall ever being booed. I’ve been heckled a few times, but usually hecklers are not used to being challenged to a fistfight by the lead singer, so they quiet down. I’m not a big believer in ignoring rude behavior.

14. People would be surprised to hear I like listening to/watching/reading: Listening to Taylor Swift’s lyrics, watching “White Christmas” every year (at least once) and reading the dictionary for pleasure (at least as a child, I did).

15. What is your ultimate goal in music? To be able to perform the material I choose, to have people respond positively and emotionally, and to not necessarily have to try to figure out what they want to hear/party to.

16. Ever ridden a mechanical bull? Oh, sure. Playing and dancing in Texas dance halls and clubs, especially in the ’80s and ’90s, there was always one around somewhere. If you’re riding a “club bull” it’s usually not too bad. If you’re trying to ride an actual rodeo bucking simulator and the operator really knows what he's doing, it’s almost impossible to stay on!

17. Have you performed with any nationally recognized acts? A few. Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakam, LeAnn Rimes and Huey Lewis.

18. Is everything really bigger in Texas? Yep, sure is!

19. You’re trapped on a deserted island. Which five albums would you wish you had with you? I think it’s kind of a cop-out to choose greatest hits and compilations, so actual albums would be Merle Haggard’s “Serving 190 Proof,” George Strait’s “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind,” The Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night,” Chet Baker’s “Chet Baker Sings” and B.B. King’s “Live in Cook County Jail.”

20. Do you prefer the heat in Texas or the cold in Wisconsin? I prefer the cold in Wisconsin, by far! I can put on enough layers and coats to keep warm, but I can’t take off enough to keep cool. I love Texas, but I do not like 75-90 days of 100-plus temps from May to October.

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