Forging New Territory

Last weekend marked a few new firsts for me: My first shows in the Raleigh, NC area. My first time performing for my godparents and first cousins from Smithfield, NC. My first time being cancelled due to a problem with paperwork. That last one aside, it’s always a rush of good vibes anytime I’m able to forge new territory and expand my show circuit to include another city. Even more so when I get to visit with relatives I don’t see often enough.

It was truly a blessing to spend three days with my godparents, catching up on all of the goings-on of my relatives there. My first cousin Allen and his wife Nicki even took some photos for me at one of the shows (including the featured image of this blog).

Anyway, on to the double entendre of this blog’s title, because you knew I wouldn’t be satisfied to write something without trying to make it sound witty or profound …

It seems it always happens at shows: there’s that one person who’s going ask “what kind of music do you play?”. A harmless and simple question, though it seems, these are the kind of questions that can work my brain too hard. “Alternative”, I usually say, assuming it’s probably the safest guess when my genre is a little bit of a lot of things. I can hear part folk rock, part soul, part singer-songwriter, part blues, part Americana … “forging new territory”, I guess you could say (there it is, the overhyped second title reference, in all of its plain glory). This, of course, is usually uttered after a considerable pause, wherein I internally reject a barrage of other possible (sarcastic) answers that occur to me sooner in the succession of appropriate answers to the question: “you’ll find out soon enough”, or perhaps “the best kind”. Still, no matter what answer I give, this question is almost always later accompanied by time spent soul-searching over exactly what the Adam Harris Thompson brand is or should be.

The longer I stick with this career, by way of a process of elimination, informed by my experiences, I seem to be gaining clarity about what my brand is and whom my audience is (or mostly who it is not). While I take great pleasure in doing my part to try and bring joy to every room I play, no matter how diverse or far from my identity the audience may be, here are some conclusions I’ve made …

1) My greatest influence is worship music. For anyone who knows me well, this should not come as a shock. I was raised in church. The first songs I ever learned were worship songs. It’s been my life. As such, it is traceable through every song I sing, regardless of what venue that given song may have been written for.

2) With authenticity, comes a narrower appeal, but a more loyal version of support.

3) Some gigs help me fund the future of my brand, others help me form the future of my brand. As I continue on this journey, the goal is to eventually pass from the first, through latter, to another “new territory” (triple entendre? whatever I’m lame) where both happen consistently.

In a lot of ways, this is scary for me, because it’s never my intention to be unappealing to anyone, but if I’m true to myself, inevitably, that will happen.

That said, in a move that feels most right for my identity and brand, here’s a “new territory” of song-writing you can expect a lot of from the Adam Harris Thompson brand (whether I’m able to share them in the venues I perform or not): honest worship songs, that address God directly from the place where my heart is at the time of writing them, rather than some future-cast, ideal version of myself that hasn’t yet gotten a handle on total surrender.

Exhibit A: