Adi the Monk collaborates with Bobby Sax on third album.
Musician Adi the Monk was born and reared in Illinois, and by age ten the young Filipino American was playing guitar and other musical instruments. He learned and developed his own style by sitting on the front porch and playing with some of the Rhythm & Blues elders around Champaign-Urbana, the area where he grew up.
From those elders, he says, “I gained insight about freedom of expression with my instrument.” “At age fifteen I was really into Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon and Robert Johnson. I would sit in my bedroom and play along with their musical albums.”
By high school he was known by his peers as an R&B player. Blues and alternative rock genres were Adi favorites, and Jimi Hendrix was another admired musical influencer.
As a teen Adi also began to study the Bhagavad Gita and practicing meditation. Convinced there is no more important purposes in life than to understand the spiritual existence of the body and mind, he began following the disciplines of Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya, moved into a temple in Chicago, and became a monk.
“I wanted to serve God, live a clean life and do the right thing. This decision wasn’t related to music at all. In fact, I gave up playing guitar when I first became a monk,” recalled Adi.
For eight years he practiced monasticism and learned to play traditional Indian Kirtan instruments. He joined an all-monk rock band and that traveled to Nepal, Greece, Israel, the Philippines, and the Middle East. During that time he returned to India three times on pilgrimages to holy places.
Adi moved to Asheville in 2008 to work as a wilderness therapy instructor for at-risk youth, but music remained an intricate part of his life. He began playing guitar professionally in 2016 and performing with local singer Rhoda Weaver. Then, while performing as a street soloist, he caught the eye of famed Asheville musician Bobby Sax.
“Bobby said he wanted to work with me, and I’m greatly honored to have him on the album. Bobby is 76 years old and a native of Monroe, NC, who got his first taste of musical success at age 19 with a hit named ‘Soul At Last.’ He has had an amazing career and played the last eight shows with Marvin Gaye. He’s also toured with The Jacksons, The O’Jays, Maze, and Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs.”
Their current album, Adi’s third, is the first that the two men have done together. They’ll release the album at The Block off Biltmore (the old YMI drugstore, 39 South Market Street) with a CD Release and Video Premiere Party on Saturday, June 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.
For more information, please call (828) 254-9277 or visit www.theblockoffbiltmore.com/events/adi-the-monk-album-release-party.