Adrian Zelski spent 16 years in the music industry as a musician, promoter, band manager, venue owner and festival producer. He toured the United States and Canada for 12 years from 2002 to 2014. Adrian booked shows ranging from World-Class jazz like Pat Metheny, John Scofield to rock n’ roll legends Robert Randolph, Warren Haynes, Taj Mahal and Hip Hop legends like J Cole, Del tha Funky Homosapien to world class producer/DJ’s like Bonobo, Emancipator, STS9, Pretty Lights etc.
Adrian Zelski has 6+ years experience in the hemp industry. He is a principal owner and Chief Business Development Officer at High Grade Hemp Seed. Adrian is also a founder and President of Center Pivot Group, a matchmaking company that connects high level farmers and producers to the Cannabinoid Supply Chain. He was also a founding member of iHempX and played a key role in strategy, investments, and innovation for the International Hemp Exchange.
What is your hobby?
Music. I love to play guitar, learn my favorite songs and write new ones based on the rhythms of the legends like Bob Marley, Taj Mahal, Neil Young, Louis Armstrong, and Fela Kuti. I really loved learning the blues and reggae as my core experience. I also learned a lot of Classic rock: Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and contemporary 90’s bands and songwriters like Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, Sade, Pearl Jam and more. Once I found out about Roots reggae I turned most of my attention to it: mainly Bob Marley and The Wailers, Toots and the Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Ken Boothe. Also the soul singers of the 60’s and 70’s: Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Bill Withers.
How did you get started with this hobby?
My love for music really started when I was in college and my roommate had a guitar. Around that time internet had just become a thing, so I was able to download about a song a day and learn it. Luckily, my downtown apartment building in Athens, GA was brand new and they didn’t have an option for cable TV so I stopped watching television and spent most of my free time playing guitar. Learning scales, arpeggios and songs by my favorites.
Tell us what you love about your hobby.
Playing music is truly the only mediation or way for me to turn off my brain and focus on the spiritual side of life and getting in touch with my soul. I try yoga, meditation and other spiritual practices, but I rarely do them consistently. Music is really the only thing that brings me to my center.
What types of things/equipment have you spent money on for your hobby?
I have spent a good amount of money on guitars, amplifiers, effects pedals, and starting a band that I lead for 12 years. It is now my hobby again as I have moved on from trying it as a profession, but have spent thousands on it each year. I now have only 3 solid guitars left so I sold the ones I didn’t keep, I guess it paid for itself on some levels. I was very fortunate to start a band with really good musicians called DubConscious (www.dubconscious.com) and a good friend of the band named Jason Spencer made me a guitar from a brand he called WildWood.
It is a beautiful hand-crafted guitar that serves as both an electric and acoustic guitar. I am infinitely thankful for him making this guitar. I named her “LifeBlood” and it has been with me everywhere I’ve moved since 2006. From Athens, GA to California, to Denver, to where I am now in Longmont Colorado on a farm. It’s been the most consistent companion in my life. Once again, it goes to show that investing in guitar playing is worth every penny.
What are some of your favorite places to shop for your hobby?
Chick Piano in Athens, GA will always be my favorite. A true music shop that’s been around for decades. Most of the shops I visited around the country are now closed but I always love the locally owned shops that are true hobbyists and professionals.
How much money have you invested into this? How much would a beginner have to invest to get started?
Over the past 25 years I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on it and every penny was worth it. For beginners, start small with a 200-300 dollar guitar and see where it goes. Once you fall in love with it and become somewhat confident in your abilities, I would guess around 10k total once you really learn what you want. 4 or 5 guitars of different styles, a few good amps and microphone setup and recording equipment. Like a good car, if you take care of your instruments it will maintain its value. The best instruments will really get your money’s worth from your investments.
Are there any good books for beginners?
Bob Marley’s “Songs of Freedom” was my main source while I learned how to play. Also there are: The Guitar Handbook by Isaac Guillory, and 500 Greatest Rock Songs of All time by Rolling Stone Magazine.
Are there any online videos you recommend to help beginners?
There are tons of links nowadays. Back in the 90’s I used the guitar chord charts by Ultimate-Guitar.
How has your hobby changed your life?
It guided me to a professional music career. I was in a band, managed bands, opened music venues, promoted festivals, recorded albums, etc. It became the focus of my existence until I was 43 years old so it was quite a profound hobby. There is no possible way to explain in words how much this “hobby” changed my life.
I never thought it would be my life passion when I started, but it took me all over the US playing hundreds of shows in venues with some of the best musicians in the world. I played Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the 9:30 Club in Washington DC, Bonnaroo Music Festival, and more. Don’t think twice if you have a desire to play guitar. Do it and take it as far as you can go.
What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?
Enjoy the process as much as the accomplishments. Lose yourself to music and let your soul guide your path. Study the masters or your biggest influences. Learn the music you love first so you fall in love with the process. Learn how to sing while you learn how to play guitar. It’s hard to go back if you don’t!
Connect With Adrian Zelski: