The Sideman Steps Out – The Adam McIntosh story

We are all accustomed to seeing Adam McIntosh on stage with Joe Mullins as a Radio Rambler. He also has a solo album set for release this year from Billy Blue Records. But how much do you know about his long road to success?

Adam started his musical career as a teenager playing in local bands. At age 18, Ron Thomason recruited him to be part of the Dry Branch Fire Squad. This would be the first of two stints with the group.

Ron had this to say about Adam…

“I think Adam was 18 years old when he came to my farm and took a job with Dry Branch Fire Squad; our former guitarist needed to move on for reasons regarding his other business.

Adam came fully blue-grassed! He could play with soul right from the start. He intrinsically understood that the words were as important as the music—often more so—and he brought his own voice to both his instrument and his deep  understanding of the music that bluegrass can—and did—render important.

He did two separate turns’ with Dry Branch over the years, and each was exquisite.  He has also helped us as well as others when they need someone to sit in on an emergency basis. By the time of the second ‘inning,’ he had mastered, in every respect, not only the guitar—on which he has no equal—but also the mandolin, bass, and particularly the banjo.  

He sings ‘all the parts’ and gives each a special reason for being. He is a family man in the most beautiful sense of the word, as well as a great artist, and he is fun to travel with.

I count him a dear friend and will beyond the end.”

It wasn’t long until Adam met and married Jessica Dye. As a newlywed, he left the music business for a day job in the concrete business.

But the music bug was still in Adam’s heart. Joe Mullins reached out to him in 2006, and he became one of the founding members of the Radio Ramblers.

Joe had this to say…

“I’m not sure Adam even had a driver’s license when I first saw him performing. My children were small and our family was visiting an Ohio amusement park near Cincinnati. I heard bluegrass music, and soon observed a trio of teenage kids just wearing out a short set of tunes. Adam McIntosh was already impressing audiences with his smile and style. 

When I began organizing The Radio Ramblers in early 2006, he was my first call. He had grown into a professional on the road with Dry Branch Fire Squad, and had left Ron’s band the year before. The sincerity in his vocal delivery, and his commitment to presenting bluegrass with class, were foundational to our early successes, and are still key components for JMRR.

Adam’s passion for vocal harmonies is so important to our band. His warm lead voice is great for me to sing to, but he knows all the vocal parts and loves to create the harmonies for any kind of song we arrange. His keen ear has allowed him to grow into a top shelf producer. And his guitar playing is so versatile! He’s a lifelong learner, taking notes from the work of George Shuffler to Kenny Smith and creating his own style. 

Our years of friendship mean as much to me as the music we’ve made together. He’s so reliable in every way, and easy to love, on stage and off.”

In 2013, the urge to move on hit. Adam left the Radio Ramblers and moved his family to Arizona to work at The Mandolin Store for a year, but then moved back to Ohio to be closer to family. He worked retail and spent a year playing with American Drive. He then rejoined Dry Branch Fire Squad.

The opportunity to rejoin the Radio Ramblers presented itself and Adam knew that was where he wanted to be. Since returning to Ohio he has gotten a degree in pastoral counseling, and has been doing some counseling and substitute teaching. He is now considering a masters degree in Social Work to facilitate becoming a marriage counselor.

As daughters Jonna and Libby started growing up, Adam and Jessica decided to work on qualifying to become foster parents. They gained this qualification in 2019. Enter baby Harper. The whole family fell in love with her. She is now Harper McIntosh and is currently four years old. Jonna and Libby are 19 and 14. The family is currently fostering a little boy.

Through all of these moves and changes, Adam has harbored the desire to make a solo project. Billy Blue Records through Jerry Salley have signed Adam for this effort. He has been collecting music and ideas for this album for 20 years. Two of the songs, Baby You Ain’t Baby Anymore and Touch of God’s Hand are out and getting air play. The completed project drops March 22 with the title, Restless.

Adam feels that the title describes his life journey to a tee!

This isn’t the end of the story. His “restless” nature always has him looking for that better playing and sounding instrument. This has led to a great many guitars over the years. He tells me he has found the perfect (so far) capo with Paige Capo’s Pro model. He has partnered with them to make a special version that is available through Adam on his website. Proceeds go to the local fostering program that he works with.

Restless is the project that will put the sideman out front, but his journey will keep him there.

I am proud to call Adam McIntosh friend!