Adam Weiner’s got heavyweight fans. In 2016, the piano-straddling frontman for rock ’n’ rollers Low Cut Connie visited the White House to meet President Obama, who put the band’s “Boozophilia” on his Spotify playlist the previous summer. In June, Weiner chatted with Bruce Springsteen after attending his Broadway show. And a few weeks ago, he met with Elton John, who was playing Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center and gave Low Cut Connie a shout-out from the stage.
Not bad for an unsigned band that’s toiled for several years on the bar circuit, didn’t hire a real booking agent until last year and currently has no manager.
“I got up every day and, with elbow grease, tried to build something direct to the fans without a ton of cooperation from the industry,” says Weiner, 38. “So for our music to travel a distance and reach some of my greatest musical heroes, and for them to invite me backstage to tell me encouraging things, and then for Elton John—on stage in front of 20,000 people, in my hometown of Philly—to talk about how much he loves the band, it’s staggering. And it really speaks to what you can do. [Success] can happen if you make your own luck and don’t wait.”
Weiner clearly puts in the work to warrant the celebrity endorsements. A boxing devotee who says he brings a similar discipline to his daily life, the singer exhorts the crowd like a hopped-up preacher as he pounds the keys and regularly stands atop his piano—named Shondra after an Atlanta stripper.
“It takes a licking and keeps on kicking,” says Weiner, whose boogie-woogie antics nod to idols Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard as well as Elton John. He also looks the part of entertainer—or boxer—in open Vegas-style jackets and white muscle T-shirts that show off a lion medallion around his neck. “It gives me a little bit of extra power when I walk onstage. It’s not a beautiful piece. It’s kind of ugly. But it’s powerful.”
Power didn’t come easily when he was growing up in southern New Jersey. “I was very introverted and very shy,” he says. “I had an eye disease, so my eyes were crossed. And my name was Weiner—A. Weiner. That didn’t help.” But when he got onstage, with music or dance, he found his calling. “In the street or in school or whatever, I was a total misfit. Art was my path, my way into finding myself.”
He spent years playing piano in New York gay bars, where he learned “Don’t be boring, look good, but also be yourself,” Weiner says. “There was a big value on being real and being an open-hearted receptacle for [people’s] feelings and where they were at—and giving that back. I’ve tried to incorporate that.”
On their way up, Low Cut Connie also played plenty of frat parties. “I don’t want to do a frat ever again,” says Weiner, whose band plays Great Scott on Oct. 17. “We do throw a party. We get people crazy, we get people wild, but it’s got to be in pursuit of some positive energy, not a race to the bottom.”
That’s a scene evoked in “All These Kids Are Way Too High,” a revved-up take on an old Cajun tune that opens Low Cut Connie’s May release, Dirty Pictures (Part 2). But Weiner shows a deeper, softer side in vulnerable acoustic ballad “Hollywood” and “Desegregation,” which speaks of dancing before people draw lines. “I’ve felt as I travel around the U.S. that I see some troubling resegregation going on,” he says.
Weiner opines that rock ’n’ roll isn’t just endangered in today’s music industry—it’s nearly extinct in the commercial world. “When we perform for young people, they flip out, because they’ve never seen it before,” he says. “There’s no pathway for what I do that leads to the Top 40 genre. I’m not competing with 700 other acts that are close to what I do. So it takes the pressure off, and I get to just do my work.” ◆
Low Cut Connie plays Great Scott on Oct. 17.
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