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Adam Hopkins’ Passage to Indie

Mixing jazz sophistication with punk aggression, the bassist and label owner makes a striking debut

Adam Hopkins and his band (L to R): Anna Webber, Devin Gray, Ed Rosenberg, Hopkins, Josh Sinton, Jonathan Goldberger (photo: T.J. Huff)

Like many teens who came of age in the 1990s, Adam Hopkins fell under the spell of indie rock bands like Pavement, the Dismemberment Plan, and Nirvana. Before long Hopkins picked up the bass guitar and started a band called Mr. Belvedere with his brother. Getting gigs in his hometown of Baltimore became easy when their drummer convinced his mother to let him open up an all-ages venue called the Small Intestine. “It was a pretty fertile development period where we were writing music and playing,” Hopkins says.

By his senior year, Hopkins had begun playing upright bass in his high-school jazz band. That’s when he heard Pat Metheny’s Bright Size Life, featuring Jaco Pastorius. From there he immersed himself deeper in jazz, which felt far removed from the music he’d been playing. This began a gradual shift toward forward-thinking jazz and free improvisation that has now led to the release of his leadership debut, Crickets, on his own Out of Your Head imprint. In a way, he’s come full circle, merging his own approach to jazz with the DIY aesthetic that first inspired him.

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Mike Shanley

Mike Shanley has been a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh and gladly welcomes any visitors to the city, most likely with a cup of coffee in one hand. Over the years, he has written for several alternative weekly papers and played bass guitar in several indie rock bands. He currently writes for the bi-weekly paper Pittsburgh Current and maintains a blog at