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In which Adam Ezra time travels: Before the virus and after

Adam Ezra and his fiance, Alley Welsh, in California's Mojave desert.
Adam Ezra and his fiance, Alley Welsh, in California's Mojave desert.Handout

Folk singer Adam Ezra was in the middle of a tour with his band when the coronavirus pandemic hit. While he was disappointed to cut short the tour, he has found a new, international fan base through his “Gathering Series,” live-streaming shows he began performing nightly from his home in Chelsea or, more recently, from his cabin at Joshua Tree in California’s Mojave Desert. “This has been an inspiring journey,” said Ezra, 43, who contracted the coronavirus and has since almost completely recovered. “Since the tour was canceled, my reach as an artist has been magnified.” Much to his surprise, Ezra recently learned that he has a large fan base in Brazil. “How cool is that?” he asked. Born in Corning, N.Y., and raised in Wayland, Ezra lives in Chelsea with his fiance, Alley Welsh, a cancer biologist and artist. We caught up with Ezra — whose show streams each night at 7 on www.facebook.com/adamezragroup, with information about the series, and all shows archived on the Adam Ezra Group website — to talk about all things travel, a conversation in which he broke down his answers to BC (before coronavirus) and AC (after coronavirus).

Favorite vacation destination?

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BC: Joshua Tree, Calif. My fiance, Alley, and I just bought a tiny little cabin in a pile of boulders out in that desert. We think it is the most beautiful place on Earth and are constantly inspired by the incredible community out there, filled with artists, activists, and misfits — just like us!

AC: Since the virus hit, I have had to get creative with my definition of travel and vacation. I would usually be touring the country playing music right now, but in mid-March we canceled everything, and I began something we call “The Gathering Series” online. Every night at 7 I go live. I play some music, but mostly use the time as a platform to connect my family of listeners, many of whom are almost as active on the comment board as I am on the guitar. I feel so scared and isolated during this time, and every night the Gatherings not only help me feel less alone, but also remind me that we are still living in a global community that supports and believes in one another. This feels like a daily vacation destination more so than any physical place to which I’ve ever traveled.

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Favorite food or drink while vacationing?

BC: Irish whiskey.

AC: a) See first answer; b) Two weeks ago I contracted COVID. I never had to go to the hospital, and I am doing great now, but for a while I was pretty sick. I lost my sense of smell — and taste . . . very weird — and since then I have been drinking seltzer like a crazy person. I can’t get enough. The bubbles feel nice, and it’s the only sensation my mouth and body really get. I’m looking forward to feeling 100 percent healthy again and graduating back to answer “a.”

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?

BC: India. Of any place on Earth, the culture throughout this beautiful country seems so exotic and fascinating to me. I would love to travel there for a while and immerse in some of the cities and countryside . . . meet a thousand people . . . eat a thousand meals . . . listen to a thousand local songs.

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AC: Since this chapter of isolationism began, I have become obsessed with data analytics (funny place to start this answer, right?). Because I can’t see my audiences each night, I often travel into my statistics to learn what I can about who’s out there listening. I found out the most incredible thing the other day: Four out of five of my most actively listening cities are in Brazil! How cool is that? This country, in which I have never toured, has somehow decided to begin listening to this relatively unknown folk singer from another hemisphere. Brazil suddenly seems like a place I would love to visit.

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?

BC: My guitar.

AC: My face mask.

Aisle or window?

BC: Window. As often as I fly, I am still fascinated by the way our world looks from the sky. Oh yeah, and I totally use that wall for napping.

AC: Dude, flying is so 2019.

Favorite childhood travel memory?

BC: For some number of years, before my folks divorced, they would rent a place for two weeks in Orleans, on Cape Cod. My favorites were Nauset Beach, Pilgrim Lake, mini golf at Katie’s, cones at Sundae School … but most importantly, family [being] together — during a time when Cape Cod had less traffic and sharks.

AC: Now that I am corona-free, and because Alley and I are both working remotely, we are planning to hop in my mini tour bus and drive out to our cabin in the desert, almost 3,000 miles away. As we’ve been planning our trip, I've been reminiscing about a summer, when I was 13, in which my folks rented an RV (we named him Harvey) and we did the whole Grand Canyon-Yellowstone thing. It was my first time experiencing a landscape so utterly different than the New England countryside in which I felt so at home. It was the very beginning of a lifelong appreciation for and dedication to protecting the incredible natural resources we have throughout our country.

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Guilty pleasure when traveling?

BC: This is more from being on tour than traveling for vacation, but every once in a while, when I find myself in a not-so-crappy hotel with really nice water pressure, I allow myself an unethically long shower. My lord, I’m not sure there are many simple pleasures that beat a really nice shower; but more so than the shower itself, time away from screens, and schedules, and humans — even the nice ones — to simply process the day, the place I’m at, and the way the world feels as it’s spinning. I think I can safely tell you that most of my songs, during some phase of their creation, were worked on in the shower.

AC: See answer “a” to “Favorite food or drink while vacationing?”

Best travel tip?

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BC: I am no travel expert, at least not compared to most of your interviewees. Most of my adult life has been spent scraping my way across the country as a relatively unsuccessful independent artist on tour. I’m also kind of a no-frills guy. Show me the bars and cafes where the truckers and farmers hang, and that’s where I want to be. I have developed a tradition in my travels that I really love, though, and I’d like to share it with you: When I can, I take a walk or a run. This in itself is obviously neither groundbreaking nor interesting. The catch is that I specifically try to walk or run in a place where travelers don’t usually go. I like to look at the different homes … the yards, the local trees and plants that none of the residents necessarily consider special but are so different from what I experience when I’m out around Boston. I like to imagine the lives that are being lived in whatever remarkable or unremarkable place I find myself, and I think about the stories inside all of those walls and along all of those streets. Whatever follows this adventure during the course of my day, I find myself facing it with a mind that feels a little more open and a heart that feels a little more full.

AC: There is an incredible thing that has begun happening around the world since this mess began. Artists of all sizes and from every genre have begun sharing their music live online. On any given night, if you snoop around a bit, you can find concerts everywhere. You don’t have to move off your couch to discover a new songwriter or artist who may touch and inspire you. For me, listening to and experiencing art is one of the most powerful ways for me to process my thoughts and feelings during my most difficult times. Don’t feel guilty if times are tough for you and you can’t afford to tip the artist through whatever digital money transfer system they have set up. Just enjoy, and if you find yourself becoming a fan of someone new, share that artist’s music with people you care about, and plan to go see a show when this is all over.