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The Ark of Music

Adam Strelow – Gone to Stay


Winona, MN seems to have an endless pool of musical talent. Performing since the 6th grade, Adam Strelow has been swimming in those waters for some time now…and rightfully so.

Though he spent much of that time playing with different bands, Adam now finds himself flying solo. It seems somehow fitting then, that after all those years of making music with others, his first official album, Gone To Stay, bares only his name.

Which isn’t to suggest that he made the album alone. With help from his musician friends, Justin Bell, Jessica Ingvalson, and Jamie Groth, the result is a classic sounding acoustic and electric rock album (with strong country threads) that is raw in its content, and refined in its production. (I.E., it’s win/win for you and I.)


The project’s second track, Tilt the Sun Towards Me, is a song of sweet desperation. Everyone has a breaking point. Luckily, when Strelow hit his, this song came out. Tilt’s sweet harmonies beg you to sing along… “Oh lord won’t you please, tilt the sun towards me”.


By the time Anna Lee cues up, it becomes clear:  Strelow has endured his share of heartache. Here’s what we love about that…he’s not hiding from it. In fact, any excessive pride he may have once had has now clearly been checked at the door. He’s not afraid of the choices he’s made, and he’s not afraid to let you know about it…


“I drank a little too much last night 
pissed the old lady off again 
I just can’t seem to get right 
I’m just a fool that never learned to win


Rolling harmonica, a lovely bass-line, and classic organ make I Saw You With Him a nostalgic number. If you’ve ever stumbled upon a lover in the arms of someone else, those memories will stir…

“I ain’t got the time 
to sift through your lies and your truths 
And I ain’t got the time 
I ain’t got no time for you
You can take all our memories 
and just give them to him 
Cause baby it turns out 
I ain’t got no use for them


Gone to Stay,  is rightfully the album’s title track. In this blueprint for a great radio road-tune, Strelow’s heartache has turned into focus and resiliency. In our humble opinion, there isn’t a fan of rock music on the planet that couldn’t relate to this number.


Eventually, to survive, every victim plays the villain for a time. With another downright lovely mix of acoustic and electric, the bluesy, soulful Only Thinking of You tells the tale of good intentions gone bad, and the heart-wrenching process of coming clean about it all.


We cannot overstate how absolutely wonderful Gone To Stay’s mix and production quality are. The music is crisp and highly entertaining. Strelow’s voice is strong, and immediately brings to mind Poison’s Bret Michaels. (No joke.) Adam’s sorrowful, liquor-soaked ballads feel genuine and true-to-heart. Look, it’s quite simple, there is something extremely refreshing about music you don’t have to guess and theorize about. Music that is straightforward, forthright. Music that says exactly what it means to say, and nothing more. The ten tracks on Gone To Stay do just that.


The Ark of Music

Adam interviews with The Ark of Music


Q:  Your roots are in the music-rich Winona, MN. How has that kick-ass little town influenced and inspired your music?
A:  Winona certainly is a kick-ass little town! But it wasn’t always rich with music. The music scene here has grown to what it is over the last 10 years or so. Before Midwest Music Fest and Ed’s No Name Bar there really wasn’t a “scene” at all. Especially not for original material. Seeing what they, and many others, have done to bring arts and music into the community really inspired me to get serious about my music. I can’t for sure say that Winona has influenced or inspired me artistically but I can say that it has brought me a ton of great musician friends and one hell of a music scene to tap into.


Q:  On that note, why do you think Winona is such a music-mecca? (We recently interviewed fellow Winona native musician Jake Ilika of The Heavy Set and asked him this very same question.)
A:  Jake Ilika is one of my favorite dudes. Love that guy! As Jake said, I think the music has always been here. There just wasn’t much of a platform for it. I touched on this already I guess but it’s worth mentioning again. It is one of those “if you build it they will come” kind of things. It took a while, but after it was built they came in droves!


Q:  You’ve been performing since the 6th grade! Much of that time was spent in different bands. Now that you’re in a solo stretch, do you prefer it?
A:  I have to be honest here. No, I really don’t prefer it. I love collaborating, feeding off of other musicians and exploring ideas with more than one vantage point. I also play in a local cover band so I get some of that there, but not in the way I would if I had an original band. I am working towards putting a group together now. To me, a band is a group of people with their own unique voice that no single person, or other group of people, can truly emulate.


Q:  Despite all your years of songwriting and performing, “Gone To Stay” is actually your first official album. What made you finally want to pull the trigger and record?
A:  I basically got to the point where I thought I had some decent material and I wanted others to hear it. I’m sure whiskey and divorce were also a factor!


Q:  How long did “Gone To Stay” take to record?
A:  It is hard to say specifically because I did 4 of the songs on my own and the other 6 at Justin Bell’s studio(Justin Bell & The Lazy Susan Band). I do know that the 6 songs done at Justin’s studio took very little time. Two weekends of me showing up around dinner time on a Friday and taking off before lunch on Sunday.


Q:  Your songs are refreshingly straight-forward tales of love and loss. Are these songs coming from your life, or the lives you’ve observed in others?
A:  I am glad you asked this, because it comes up often. These songs do come from my life. But they are not necessarily exempt from outside forces. Two songs on this album were written with friends of mine in mind. Anna Lee and I Saw You With Him. Neither one of these songs were written exclusively about someone else’s lives. I guess you could say that these songs were derived from adding my life experience with other people’s lives that I have observed.


Q:  Can you tell us about the first moment you picked up a guitar?
A:  I can. I was really pissed off! I believe I was 9 or 10 years old. I honestly thought that you just picked it up and started strumming away! Looked pretty easy on MTV.



Q:  What was your first guitar? Do you still have/play it?
A:  My first guitar was a Fender Bullet. I do not have it anymore but I really wish I did. I do have a ton of pics of my 9-10 year old self posing with it if you are interested in that!


Q:  Perhaps in some unspecified amount of time, your musical career explodes in the best of ways. What does that look like for you?
A:  In a more realistic sense that would look like no more slaving at the stone quarry and providing for my family the same as always while I do something I love. In a “Taylor Swift” type of explosion I would be looking at helping the poor anyway that I could.


Q:  You get to collaborate with anyone of your choosing. Who is it?
A:  Tom Petty. Hands down. Or Eric Clapton. Or maybe Ryan Adams. Damn, I am screwed if I ever have to actually choose.


Q:  Your favorite album of all time? (Yup, you gotta choose one.)
A:  Impossible to answer. My tastes evolve daily. Also I am not an “album” guy. My favorite album at the moment is probably Nathaniel Ratecliff and The Night Sweats.


Q:  Your favorite song of all time? (Again, only one!)
A:  Again, impossible to answer. This can change within minutes. I will say that some of my favorite artists right now are Erik Koskinen and Justin Townes Earle.


Q:  What would you like fans to know about you that they’re most likely unaware of?
A:  I love playing basketball. Although I suck pretty hard these days.

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