BY RYAN MARR
18-year-old Daniel Bachman remembers the first time he met Adam Bray.
“I had been trying to pre-order his band’s album, and then Adam contacted me when he found out I was from Fredericksburg. We met up at Hyperion—I remember he was wearing a flannel shirt— and he just pulled a copy out of his breast pocket and handed it to me. I was 15 and I just thought that was the coolest thing,” said Bachman.
The action was characteristic of Bray, a 29-year-old, 2002 graduate of Mary Washington, and his commitment to all things community and the arts.
These twin passions, coupled with his concern for area youth and knack for organizational leadership, have fused into Fredericksburg All Ages, a concert-series aimed at providing serious musical opportunities for kids under 21.
“I have a strong belief that a lot of the problems in communities with kids is that there is nothing to do, nothing to look forward to. There just needed to be an all-ages place for kids to come and have a good time that’s alcohol free,” Bray said.
His idea immediately took off following the inaugural show at the Wounded Bookshop in the fall of 2006, where Bachman actually played.
“Before Fredericksburg All Ages the only place to play was at something like my grandma’s pool party,” Bachman said. “Adam brought a real breath of fresh air to the kids of Fredericksburg.”
Due to spatial issues from overwhelming turnout, the shows were eventually moved to Third Floor Studio, an art gallery run by the Fredericksburg Athenaeum and Paul Lewis.
This new venue enabled Bray to snag bigger acts, creating an opportunity for the kids to perform and interact with successful touring bands.
According to Bachman, young local bands are now able to play shows in D.C. and other areas outside of Fredericksburg because of the relationships they have established with touring musicians.
However, Bray is quick to point out that despite the often-widespread notoriety following these groups, it’s the high school bands that really bring in the fans. For this reason, cover charges rarely exceed $5- just enough to cover taxes for the venue, leaving the remaining proceeds for area youth-centered art endeavors.
“Adam has given [the kids] not only a place to call their own, but an avenue for creativity where they can tangibly see their own results,” Lewis said.
Bray’s pioneering work has left an indelible work on the Fredericksburg community, but to the point where it may have grown out of his comfort zone.
Lately he has been scaling back Fredericksburg All Ages to a more manageable size with the intention of turning responsibilities over to one of his more dedicated volunteers.
But for now, Bray can still be found at local shows and is still actively recruiting volunteers, particularly Mary Washington students. His still-boyish optimism surfaces as he continues discussing upcoming events, pausing to add, “If kids stopped coming to shows, it just wouldn’t be worth it anymore.”