Extended Biographical Notes 2011
Ad Vanderveen‘s life and career’s story is in many ways the reverse of the paths well traveled. Where a lot of former stars and musicians end up in the music business, he gave up a promising record company career at an early age and headed for the gutter to play music. Where many artists would give up their careers due to lack of commercial success AV is a contender with an impressive body of work of some 20 records behind him. Where such back-catalogs are mostly reserved to superstars leaning on reputation and status, Ad Vanderveen’s music draws from personal and artistic sources and, according to critics and fans, gets deeper and richer with age, like good vintage wine. This path, of course, has been a long and winding Adventure that took many years to pay off. “I am a late bloomer, I like to have something to look forward to”, he says.
Coming from a musical family, his father an accomplished accordion and piano player and his mother playing the church organ, he took to playing the guitar when he was 8 or 9 years old. Playing guitar in the 60’s meant rock ‘n’ roll, blues and some folk music, and his early inspirations were people like the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Kinks, John Mayall, John Lee Hooker, as well as the occasional pop hits of the time. Young Ad’s drive and devotion to playing music was not always met with enthusiasm. “I remember being deprived of my guitar for weeks at a time and on one occasion my parents even came down to my basement room and broke all my records”, recalls Vanderveen. “I guess they must have been scared of the rock ‘n’ roll and hippie lifestyle I took to, and of course this only made me more determined and eager to play. To this day I still need to be close to a guitar at all times”.
Needless to say Ad was never encouraged to pursue a musical career, and even he never considered it a possibility, until he hooked up with a friend in high school who had the ambition to take his music serious and claimed he had about 300 songs written. Together they were to form a school-band, “Roomservice“, later to be called “Brinker“, built around the songs of Eric van den Brink, and resulting in the first studio recordings and the release of two pop singles in the 1970’s.
Inspired by his friend and following his example Ad set out to write his own songs, feeling confident he could deliver a decent tune but not that he could sing. He started out as a bass player, basically because there were enough guitarists around, and began to take his musical skills seriously in order to become a session player (he credits as his main inspiration Leland Sklar, who was later to play on one of his records). Next to working a busy day job he was writing and playing at nights and in weekends, burning the candle at both ends which inevitably resulted in illness, forcing him to reconsider his life and choices. It didn’t take long to realize that his commitment to music was deep and beyond the point of no return, so at age 24 Ad resigned from the record company he worked for and headed on to explore his music full-time. The period that followed consisted of writing songs and playing bass in many bands, the most well- known being Herman Brood and his Wild Romance, a famous Dutch rock ‘n’roll band in the 70/80’s.
Vanderveen’s main drive always remained his songwriting however, and in spite of his lack of confidence as a singer himself he pursued this, forming his own country-rock band “The Cotton Brothers“, later to be named “Personnel“. Personnel was to have many incarnations and cut two LPs and a number of singles in the early 80’s. With people in the band joining and leaving all the time Ad realized his songs were the only central ongoing theme and decided he should become the singer as well, for better or worse. “It was a sink or swim thing”, he says now, “back against the wall and scared shitless, but nobody could deliver them with more honesty than me so at least that came across”. A couple of years later Ad teamed up with fellow singer-songwriter Philip Kroonenberg and, still under the name Personnel, signed with Polydor Records. This resulted in 2 CDs; Personnel Only (1989) recorded live in Basel, Switzerland, and Continuing Stories (1991) recorded in Nashville with an all star cast of musicians. This put Ad Vanderveen on the map as a singer-songwriter and guitarist to reckon with.
Not long after this Ad was invited to do some solo songs by DJ Bas Westerweel, who had a show on Dutch national radio, these sessions eventually resulting in his first release as a solo artist on the CD “Travel Light“, also on Polydor Records. Having been put on course as a solo performer in the early 90’s he hit his stride and released a string of critically acclaimed CDs, ranging from intimate folk to expressive electric music.
Travel Light (1993), Sooner Or Later (1994), Brand New Everytime (1995), Wonders Of The World (1997), The O’Neils (1998), Here Now (2000), One On One (2001), The Moment That Matters (2003),
Over the years Ad never ceased to explore the two extremes in his musical personality; the folkie and the electric improvising rocker (with his garage band The O’Neils: Timon van Heerdt, guitar/Roel Overduin, drums/Martijn van Donk, bass), much inspired by favorites like Neil Young and Bob Dylan.
A meeting with colleague Iain Matthews in 1999 led to a lasting friendship and collaboration that helped spread Ad’s music to a wider audience, touring together extensively throughout mainland Europe, England and the USA.
Further collaborations with other like-minded artists like Eliza Gilkyson and David Olney led to inspired side- projects and new audiences. CD releases: More Than A Song (2002), Witness (2003).
A collaboration with singer Kersten de Ligny for the CD “Fields Of Plenty” in 2005 led to another lasting relationship and their tight trademark harmonies sound throughout the CDs that follow; Cloud Of Unknowing (2006), Soundcarrier (recorded live at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta in 2007), Still Now (an acoustic/electric concept double CD 2008, featuring the O’Neils), Faithful To Love (2009), and the recently released and critically acclaimed Days Of The Greats (2011).
With years of experience as a musician on a variety of instruments, as a songwriter, and also having had a side-job at a renowned recording studio, Vanderveen has learned to be self supporting to a great extent in terms of producing records. “Working at Wisseloord Studios enabled me to experiment with a choice of top of the line mics and equipment, recording in downtime hours often all through the night. I sometimes felt embarrassed though, using only a small section of the immense mixing consoles there. I never needed much more than 8 of the 72-or so channels anyway. Today these set ups are easily done at home with smaller equipment. The main thing to invest in are good instruments, some great microphones and a nice room. Get it right at the source and you’re home free. I always record live and in real time with no edits anyway. It’s the Moment that Matters, to quote a song, so it all stays simple and organic and close to home”.
After having done mainly solo shows for a decade, AV is nowadays mostly on the road as a duo with Kersten de Ligny or with his band, playing his native Netherlands as well as the rest of Europe and the US/Canada.