Adam Fields, a December 2006 graduate of McNally Smith College of Music with an Associate of Applied Science in Music (Production) degree, may just end up with a very prestigious statute for his mantle when the Grammys are awarded on February 8, 2009. Fields served as one of the audio engineers and played some synthesizer on Tortilla Factory’s 2008 release All That Jazz . . ., which is nominated for “Best Tejano Album” at this year’s Grammy awards. Fields is currently living in Austin, Texas, working as a freelance engineer.
Tortilla Factory is an eclectic group that first emerged in 1973. Band leader Tony “Ham” Guerrero describes the music as “Texas Chicano Homeland.” While they do perform Tejano music, their sound covers a wide range of styles including jazz, country and ballads. All That Jazz . . . is the group’s first release in 23 years. The band is legendary in Latin music circles.
The story of how Fields came to work on the Grammy-nominated release is a classic music business tale. He had moved to Austin to pursue his career as an audio engineer, but was working at a local H-E-B grocery store as a checker to make ends meet. Alfredo Guerrero, one of Fields’ fellow checkers, was working on his own album using hot shot studio musicians from L.A. Alfredo hired Adam to do some audio file management and help out with the recording. Alfredo also happens to be the son of Tortilla Factory founder Tony Guerrero.
Tortilla Factory was working on a tight deadline to meet an August 2008 release date, and they needed some immediate help with audio engineering. Through Alfredo, “Ham” Guerrero hired Fields as one of the engineers to work on the project. Fields also ended up co-producing one number and a synthesizer line he recorded as groundwork for MIDI ended up surviving the cut and appearing on the album. Alfredo Guerrero informed Adam that if the album takes home the Grammy, he is entitled to one of the statues.
Adam Fields gives a great deal of credit to McNally Smith College of Music for the path that led to working on a Grammy-nominated album. Fields says, “McNally is probably the best starting point for anyone trying to be serious about having a career in music. You can’t put a price on all of the industry experience and expertise that the instructors have to offer, as well as the hands-on experience you get.” He acknowledges, however, that a whole new journey begins after finishing school. If ringing up groceries isn’t an obvious path to a Grammy-nominated project, it’s probably no more unusual than many other paths. Fields says, “You can’t really pass up any opportunity and it takes a lot of determination to get good work. One thing is for sure, you can’t give up after the first 100 times someone tells you ‘no.’”
So how does it feel to be involved in a Grammy-nominated project so early in one’s career? “It’s weird because everyone asks me that, and I don’t even know how to answer,” Fields explained. “I can tell you that it was an honor to work with these top-notch guys. I feel lucky more than anything.”Jazz Violin Great Randy Sabien to Head New String Department at McNally Smith College of Music
Older: American Composers Forum & McNally Smith College of Music Seminar