Hometown: Austin, TX
Originally from Honolulu, HI, Clay Campania has been bringing his high intensity, blues favored rock, reminiscent to the likes of Cream, Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to the stages of Austin, TX. As stated by John Berger of the Honolulu Star Bulletin, "Campania is a competent vocalist and impressive on guitar; most important, he sounds like he is singing from his heart rather than trying to be a “blues singer.” That’s an important distinction.
“I’m going to play what touches me.”
Play he does. From “Crossroads” and “Little Wing,” the soul of Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers, to a blistering rearrangement of Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil,” and his own originals.
John Heckathorn, editor of “Honolulu Magazine” wrote: “When Campania picks up his guitar, he channels Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.”
While fronting a band in Hawaii named Friends of Adam (www.foablues.com) , Campania has opened for Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer, AEROSMITH, at The Blaisdell Arena, multi-Grammy-Award winner, Sheryl Crow, at the Waikiki Shell, and 70s pop sensation, Pablo Cruise at the Aloha Tower Waterfront. They also have played a show at the world famous Pipeline Cafe with Darby Slick, of Great Society fame, writer of Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane. Campania also led the band to a top 10 national ranking of Hard Cafe’s Hard Rock Calling Battle of the Bands in 2010.
As the fronting member of Friends of Adam, Campania wrote and released Dust for Angels, their first recorded album, which was nominated for the prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano Rock Album of the Year Award in Hawaii in 2011.
Now based in Austin, TX, Campania has not slowed his momentum, hitting audiences with new music, and his soulful guitar and vocals as the Clay Campania Band.
In the news:
Singing Kapahulu Blues
On Stage Drinks and Grinds is just a Kapahulu Avenue bar – pool tables, video machines. A dozen or so customers clustered around the stage last weekend, raptly listening to Friends of Adam.
The group, led by guitarist Clay Campania, plays mainly for tips. “We get a small percentage off the bar, but this isn’t really a place we play for money,” says Campania. “When we started out, this was the only place that would take us. It’s a loyalty thing.”
Blues in the land of slack key
The trio (Ernie Ecraela on bass, Justin Inocelda on drums) plays blues. When Campania picks up his Mexican Telecaster, he channels Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Blues in the land of slack key? “My dad told me, ‘Nobody wants to hear that music here,’” says Campania. “But I’m going to play what touches me.”
Play he does. If you like your blues hard and electric, you might look for these guys. Midway through the set, Campania asks, “Are we loud enough? Should we turn it up?” Everyone in the audience yelled yes.
Honolulu Star Bulletin
December 21, 2008
Friends Of Adam
There is only one genre of music that genuienly speaks to the soul. With a melody that could only be born on the backs of slavery and segregation, the blues can mend the pieces of a shattered heart or send tears streaming down your face with a slight bend of a note.
From “Blind” Lemon Jefferson to Muddy Waters, the blues has the power to lead you through those dark places and make them bright as day.
I remember the first time I experienced a Friends of Adam performance. Let me emphasize this. It wasn’t, “just another show”, it was a mind-altering experience and a musical education in itself. Clayton Campania, was melting faces with his effortless mastery of his guitar, Ernie Ecraela holding down the low end with his bass and Justin Inocelda not missing a single beat on drums. What I was witnessing were three of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever seen and this was nearly 2 years ago, they’ve gotten even better since then. From day one I’ve taken it upon myself to drag my friends, co-workers and pretty much anyone who happens to be within a 20ft. radius of me, to these shows. I knew all I had to do was get them through those doors and it would be over, I’d make them a fan for life. This has been my mission whenever I see the name Friends of Adam on a flyer and a date next to it.
I’ve seen a lot of bands over the years…
Yes, the music spoke to me, but it wasn’t just the music that kept me coming back. It was their audience. Wherever and whenever they play they’re surrounded by friends who I know would, without hesitation, stand up for them in a heartbeat. It feels like family whenever they’re all standing in a room together and I quickly became one of them.
I’ve seen a lot of bands over the years and I have never seen a reaction from an audience like those who see Friends of Adam for the first time. There was one show in particular that summed up who they were for me and how tight knit the local blues scene on the island is.
It was a night at Sand Island RnB. They were sharing the set with fellow blues artists, Lovechile & St. Funk. I remember sitting there as each band played their hearts out as only they knew how. 1:30am starting showing its ugly face as the waitress announced last call, most of the bar crowd began their drunken stumble out the door. BUT… the music was still playin. The ridiculously amazing John Hart and his band St. Funk were closing the night and refused to unplug. Blues artists are a fickle bunch and John Hart being the sound man for the night decided he didn’t want it to end.
To my surprise he invited Friends of Adam back on the stage to join his band for a crazy rendition of George Clinton’s “We Want the Funk”, one final song to top off the night. Of course Clay & Co. obliged. Jamm, frontman for Lovechile joined them on stage with a few from his band as well. Did I mention St. Funk also had their horn section on the stage as well? He even invited Jen, the manager of the bar to sing with them (in my opinion, she has a voice reminscent of Janis Joplin meets Aretha Franklin).
So now that the entire bar staff was on stage along with every band that played that night, they weren’t going to unplug just because it happened to be nearing 2:30am. I sat there with two friends of mine, (the last remaining of the faithful) eyes bulging out of their sockets and mouths hanging on the floor for the most epic musical experience I have ever witnessed. I was nailed to my seat by the sound. I lost my voice from screaming so loud and so long that night. There were only the three of us remaining in the audience. The musicians onstage seemed not to mind that it was nearing 3am because they seemed to be having so much fun playing together. The guitar virtuosos effortlessly traded off solos back and forth and laughing while doing it. Friends of Adam brings the same excitement and passion to every performance I’ve ever been to.
Friends of Adam have time and time again proven that music is what binds us all. Destroying all stereotypes of how traditional blues are “supposed” to be played, all the while tearing apart every stage they’ve ever stepped on. From the smallest dive bar in Waikiki to the blaring lights of Pipeline Cafe and just recently, opening for a national act at the Waikiki Shell, they have sent a strong message that they’re gonna keep going and I’m sure they’ll be making plenty of friends along the way.
The 808 Scene Zine Issue #39
June 4th, 2009
Blues trio Friends of Adam breaks stereotypes while breaking into the scene.
For a colorful musical genre so closely related to black folks, the “blues” are all over the rainbow these days. Black, white and brown all over.
And as the Friends of Adam ask rhetorically on their Web site, Can three young Filipino men play the blues?
So well, apparently, that Friends of Adam are the only local blues band to play both of the now annual summer “Blues Bashes” at Anna Bannanas. This year, they’ll join Tell Mama, the Corey Funai Blues Band, Northside Art and the Mixers, and Chris Vandercook with Mark Prados.
Breaking stereotypes while breaking into the scene.
Young and Filipino are descriptors rarely used for blues bands, and, like anything blues-related, nothing came easy. When he was just starting out, FOA guitarist Clay Campania – the rest of the band are Ernie Ecraela on bass and Justin Incelda on drums – asked a friend to teach him some hot riffs. He had no idea what the blues sounded like.
“I was never exposed to the blues. My parents didn’t listen to that stuff,” recalled Campania. "Before we actually could get together, he gave me the ‘Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Jimi Hendrix’ to listen to (and) It absolutely blew me away.
“After that I knew that the blues is what I wanted to play. It just felt good, and it felt right. While searching for more music on Jimi, that’s when I found other bluesmen, and the different styles of blues that they played. From Texas blues, to Chicago blues, and eventually some Delta blues. I just pressed play to see if I could make the sounds that these blues greats were making.”
They included Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Robert Johnson, Elmore James, and “recently I’ve been trying to catch up on Johnny Winter and Rory Gallgher.”
A KALIHI kid, Campania has been singing since age 5.
“You know, weddings and family parties and stuff. My parents didn’t really push me to pursue music, but music was pretty much a part of my life since I was kid,” he said. “My parents weren’t musicians, but my dad was the one who got me into performing, he comes to our shows every chance he gets.”
Experimenting with various styles, Campania discovered Stevie-Ray-style Texas Blues fit his fingers. Then, aided by friend Jon Hart Campania stripped down his standard Mexico-manufactured Fender Stratocaster to the basics.
“The only thing left of the original guitar is the body, minus the paint,” said Campania. They added a fat rosewood neck to stretch bigger strings, plus rail pickups, getting that fat, buzzing-bee sustain famous west of the Pecos.
Technique. Gear. Next, gigs. Although the local club market is enough to make a bluesman blue, Campania is having a good time.
“Island music is naturally going to be the dominant scene around here, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many people here really like the blues,” said Campania. "There are people out there putting these semi-annual blues shows together, and all the other blues bands keeping the music alive. We’ve met some cool people, and play some killer shows and raging parties. I think that’s all I can ask for playing the blues in Hawaii!
“I can’t say I really listen to anything else other than the blues these days. I’m no purist, so I’ll take my blues in many forms outside of the traditional blues. I was so moved by the music that I couldn’t really turn back. The blues is as real as it gets. It speaks from the soul. It is definitely best not to over think it. Just open up, let it out, and go for it.”
Which means sometimes his fingers surprise him.
“I’ll listen to some audio recording and not remember doing some of the stuff I’m listening to. When you can get lost in what you’re doing and just let everything come out, it’s one of the best feelings,” laughed Campania. “It isn’t just through singing lyrics that you get your message across. It’s through your instrument too. That’s what made these blues guitarists so great – the ability to make their guitar speak. Sometimes there are feelings that just can’t be put into words, but your instrument can find a way to help you express them.”
Check. Do you need a “blues name” to be a real bluesman?
“If anybody out there could come up with a blues name for me I would really appreciate it. Thanks!”
Honolulu Star Bulletin
June 26, 2009
Uncle Tom’s Gabbin
Got the blues? All you need are Friends of Adam! The exceptionally talented electric-blues rock band is performing live the first and third Fridays of each month at Jazz Minds Art & Cafe. They’ve got quite the following with a well-established international dance group and the crew of Lost among their fans …
Cast of lost walked in and put 200 dollars in the tip jar.
Fun Fact: A few weeks ago Friends of Adam just finished its set when members from the cast of Lost walked in. They put $200 in the tip jar and the show played on …
October 14, 2009
For much of the 20th century, the blues belonged exclusively to African-American artists; men such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Son House, Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King, and women like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith.
Somewhere along the line, perhaps as an inevitable part of the cultural revolution that began with the original rock ‘n’ roll music of the ’50s, performers of other races began establishing themselves as credible blues artists. Opinions will always differ on how old you have to be to “feel” the blues and the dues an artist must pay before they can be taken seriously as blues artists, but based on the contents of their debut album, Friends of Adam — Clayton Campania (guitar/vocals), Ernie Ecreala (bass) and Justin Inocelda (drums) — seem qualified on both counts.
Several powerful instrumentals display the trio’s ability to play hard high-octane rock as well as basic electric blues.
The trio’s blues-rock originals are a perfect fit for fans whose preferences lean toward the high intensity of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the blues-flavored work of Jimi Hendrix and Cream. Campania is a competent vocalist and impressive on guitar; most important, he sounds like he is singing from his heart rather than trying to be a “blues singer.” That’s an important distinction.
Several powerful instrumentals display the trio’s ability to play hard high-octane rock as well as basic electric blues.
FOA needs no studio guests to deliver a well-rounded performance, but fans of traditional-style blues will enjoy the results when keyboardist Nelson Cho joins them on “Won’t Cry for You.”
February 12, 2010
Friends of Adam channels the Brit blues of Cream, or perhaps The Who without acid. Curiously, these are Filipino buddies who have the power and panopoly of Jimi Hendrix with a skosh of Stevie Ray Vaughan for flavor.
Overview: Adam’s astonishing apples are Clayton Campania (guitar), Ernie Ecraela (bass) and Justin Inocelda (drums). Campania wrote all the songs, so this is a journey into originality rooted in the landscape of hard core blues. You can feel the heat and the sweat, and share the festering sizzle on “Something on Your Mind,” “Won’t Cry for You” and “The Regret,” which sound like old-time blues classics.
March 5, 2010
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