Great New Interviews! Brad tells what it was like behind the scenes with the blues masters!
COVER STORY! NEW INTERVIEW WITH BRAD IN BLUES BLAST
Click HERE to read: Brad talks with BLUES BLAST's Henry Carrigan about the beginnings of his career, his songwriting process, and lots more!
NEW UPDATED INTERVIEW IN BLUES GREECE
Click HERE to read! "Guitarist Brad Vickers talks to BLUES GREECE's Michalis Limnios about Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perkins, Sleepy LaBeef, and the first published blues song." Brad has just updated his interview to talk about his time with Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Odetta, and the new CD, "That's What They Say".
INTERVIEW IN RUDOLF'S MUSIC, NETHERLANDS
Click HERE to read! Brad talks to Rudolf about (among other things) the music that he loves, and some other genres, well, not so much. (Please search or scroll to see Brad's interview on Rudolf's site.)
REVIEWS: Great Response Out of the Gate to "The Music Gets Us Thru"
THERE IS NOTHING NOT TO LIKE ABOUT THIS ALBUM. NOTHING!
“Dumb Like A Fox” is the opening number on the album. For me, it has a 50’s style vibe around it. Sort of in-between rockabilly and 12-bar blues. A very enjoyable mash-mash of style to gently ease you into the album “Take It Slow” is an old Jimmy Reed number that is brilliantly executed here. The subtle harmonies of the vocals, guitar and harmonica creep up on you. Brad’s voice is like velvet. Distinctive with a smooth mellow tone. After just a couple of tracks, this album is appealing to me on every level. What makes this album different is the twists and turns that it takes musically without losing direction...This whole band ooze charisma...The whole album is so warm and friendly. Nothing harsh or brash, just a fine bunch of musicians that are tight and on the same wavelength...Not only does Vickers have an outstanding vocal in his repertoire, but he’s also very adept with the guitar. There is nothing not to like about this album. Nothing. This is not your typical blues album as such. It’s impossible to pigeonhole the album. It has blues, jazz, swing, and everything in-between. What is does have is class, in spades. “When I Am Drinking” is a nod and a wonk to the blues legend that is J.B. Lenoir. He wrote this tune and I’m certain that he would be very happy with the version that adorns this fine album. “The Music Gets Us Thru” has hit the right note here.
—Stephen Harrison, BLUES MATTERS UK
BEST ENJOYED START TO FINISH!
"Guitarist/songwriter Brad Vickers describes his style as "Great American Roots 'n' Roll." It's an apt label for the sounds he and his band, The Vestapolitans, create on "The Music Gets Us Thru". Vickers boasts and impressive track records performing and touring with some of the blues' elder statesmen. His resume includes stints with Pinetop Perkins, Bo Diddley, and Hubert Sumlin. Vickers' time spent working with blues elders has given him a great appreciation for the art of restraint. His smooth, understated vocals and The Vestapolitans' gentle swing generate the kind of warmth one would feel after a sip of fine bourbon.
The Vickers original, "Dumb Like A Fox" is a good introduction to his low-key approach. Bassist Margey Peters and drummer Bill Rankin keep a rolling backbeat behind Vickers' guitar and vocals. The two-piece sax section of Jim Davis (tenor) and V.D. King (baritone) fatten up the sound. The band performs a lively cover of Jimmy Reed's "Take It Slow", with Mikey Junior's harp and Vickers' wonderfully old-school guitar leads getting plenty of room to shine.
In the liner notes, Vickers indicates that he usually includes a Tampa Red cover on each of his albums. The band's reading of Whittaker's "I'll Never Let You Go" is anchored by Vickers' vocals and always tasteful guitar work. Peters sings some sweet harmony vocals and Davis brightens up the arrangement with a clarinet solo.
As the term "Roots 'n' Roll" implies, Brad Vickers and The Vestapolitans' repertoire goes beyond the blues. The title track, written by Peters, owes a strong debt to Chuck Berry. Vickers' vocals and Davis' sax overflow with joy and Dave Keyes' piano channels Johnnie Johnson. "I'll Be Sittin' I'll Be Rockin' " is a perky slice of rhythm and blues that's livened up by V.D. King on accordion.
Brad Vickers' laid-back style is best enjoyed start to finish, with the laptop and smart phone safely out of reach. Vickers' music is a refuge from today's overstimulated world, and for that, we can all be grateful.
—jon Kleinman, LIVING BLUES US
A DELIGHT FOR BLUES FANS
"A new release from Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans always brings a smile to my face. His brand of blues always gives a loving nod to the blues of the past, updating it nicely with a mix of new songs and interesting, sometimes obscure covers...It’s always a pleasure to hear these guys make music. Their sound is based in the traditional blues, but their creative musical arrangements and instrumentation, as well as their inspired songwriting, makes each Vestapolitan recording a delight for blues fans. The Music Gets Us Thru is no exception."
—Graham Clarke, BLUES BYTES, US
"Between blues, rock, folk, boogie, jump, cajun, Texas swing, this album, which sounds like a production of the 60s, features 12 songs made from original compositions and covers like “Take It Slow” by Jimmy Reed, “I'll Never Let You Go” by Tampa Red and “When I'm Drinking” by JB Lenoir. And this brilliantly executed variety of styles is most enjoyable to listen to...This dive into the depths of American musical heritage is most gratifying."
—Gilles Blampain BLUES AGAIN, France
WITHOUT A DOUBT, FUN!
“Veteran of the American blues, guitarist, bassist, singer and songwriter, Brad Vickers has collaborated with many leading artists (Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry ...) and was part, as a bassist, of the Little Mike's Tornadoes. At the helm of his Vestapolitans he pursues a personal project as a band leader, and “The Music Gets Us Thru” is the fruit of their most recent recording sessions. As in the cover of the previous “Twice As Nice” (2019), the protagonist is a typical vehicle of the 1950s, specifically a truck, a sort of visual preview of the musical content. The main nucleus of the band is composed, in addition to Brad Vickers (guitar vocals, bottleneck guitar), of Margey Peters (vocals, bass), Bill Rankin (drums) and Jim Davis (sax, clarinet) assisted in some pieces by other proven and renowned musicians, Dave Gross (guitar), Charles Burnham (violin), Mikey Junior (harmonica and vocals), Dean Shot (guitar), and Dave Keyes (keyboards and piano). “The Music Gets Us Thru” contains twelve songs, two thirds of which are authored by Brad Vickers or Margey Peters, plus some covers, among which “Take It Slow”, borrowed from the repertoire of Jimmy Reed, and “When I Am Drinking” by J. B. Lenoir, stand out. Vintage sound, the use of horns, the alternation of solo voices—the masculine of Brad Vickers, the feminine of Margey Peters—rockabilly blues, and rock & roll characterize the spirit of the album that could be the ideal soundtrack of a cinematic remake of American Graffiti. Very distinct is “Big Wind”, a sort of ragtime, with Charles Burnham's violin in the foreground, anomalous, compared to the other songs, because it is closer in sound to the 1930s. If we had to choose just one adjective to define “The Music Gets Us Thru”, it would, without a doubt, be fun. But fun that does not come at the expense of quality, but is a complement to it, that contributes to making an album of remarkable level.”
—Stefano Tognoni, IL POPOLO DEL BLUES, Italy
A JOLT OF SHEER JOY
"Every time I get a new Brad Vickers record, I get a jolt of sheer joy. It is a given that it will not disappoint. I’ve featured several of his albums in Blues News, but still the versatility of the man and the band comes as a surprise. Whether it's rock and roll, swing jazz, or plain blues, everything is held with the same devotion and piety. If the operation of this machine were able to be analyzed, then one could say there is only one conclusion. “Everything that swings”, fits Vickers & His Vestapolitans better than well.
I haven’t made any statistical mathematical comparisons, but this singularity plays an exceptionally big role in the blues, at least in terms of the covers. Jimmy Reed is a clear and natural role model for the group, so “Take it Slow” swings and sways with ease. Tampa Red's original “I’ll Never Let You Go” has been adapted very surprisingly. The clever and witty approach could even be called old-timey rock and roll, I didn’t come up with a better term, and the cut is crowned by a rollicking clarinet solo. There’s “I’ll Be Sittin’, I'll Be Rockin’”, which doesn’t live up to its name because the playing now is so crisp that no one can sit down. Likewise, tempo choice makes a nice rough version of J.B. Lenoir “When When I’m Drinking”.
Brad Vickers is a great singer, but at the same time Margey Peters, who also plays bass, and has some solos, and has such a personal voice that she stands out from the crowd. Written by Margey herself, “Big Wind” exudes a mix of Western swing and Gypsy jazz, and the end result is a nice sound painted with vintage strokes. By the way, Margey is a producer of the album.
“Now It’s Time For Me To Sing The Blues”, on the other hand, showcases Margey’s skills on a timeless ballad. The most original of Margey's performances is the somewhat blues-like hit “Grab My Car Keys”, on which she plays bass with a slide (Slide bass). “Birds on My Family Tree” also washes over you with a handsome medium swing, which in itself does not contain anything surprising, but which works handsomely.
The fun opening rally “Dumb Like A Fox” goes back to the peak of old time rocking. The title track “The Music Get Us Thru” works as an idea on many levels, but this bustling cut actually takes place in the on-the-road setting. Don’t get exhausted by the momentum of “What In The World”, where goodwill is the most important element. “Please Don’t Say”, on the other hand, is a stylish R&B two-beat that is crowned by a tasty saxophone solo.
If any of the readers still feel Brad Vickers & His Vestapoltians is a weird name, then I recommend a quick look. Those familiar with the subject, on the other hand, know how to anticipate the group's musical unpredictability."
—Mikke Nojd BLUES NEWS, Finland
AN ENJOYABLE SATURDAY NIGHT!
The gentle swing of the Vestapolitans and the sober, unadorned singing of Brad Vickers, as unadorned and frugal as that of his guitar, evoke an unusual old-time warmth. Their musical style, self-described as "Great American Roots 'n' Roll", whatever that means, seems to mean the right thing for what the ear hears: a clear devotion to Chuck Berry, testified by the title track and to the classic blues...as well as the love for sound, the atmosphere of the 50s, the boogie and an undisguised sympathy for rockabilly .
The sound compass is covered here in every cardinal point, even with the addition, as needed, of violins, accordions and even clarinets, just to give a hint of Cajun or Dixieland..gives a generous serving of fat to the sound, all helping to define a musical framing of the past. Even the tone of voice of bassist Margey Peters who, occasionally conquers the microphone, helps to make the clock turn backward, and fast. Lastly, the guests of Mikey Junior on the harmonica and Dave Keyes on the piano are added to make the picture of an enjoyable Saturday night believable!
-Giovanni Robino, MACALLE BLUES, Italy
PLEASING AND AMAZING FROAM START TO FINISH!
“Final of the summer in blues. What a satisfaction is the return of Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans who never misses a beat with his old friends. The Music Gets Us Thru, (Man Hat Tone) is pleasing and amazing from start to finish. In addition to the jumping and danceable title-track, the cover songs such as "I'll Never Let You Go" by Tampa Red and "When I Am Drinking” by JB Lenoir arouse enthusiasm, as do those penned by the dual leaders such as "Grab My Car Keys“ and "Dumb Like A Fox”.”
—Gianlucca Diana, MOJO STATION, Italy
GOOD NATURED...PLUS WITTY SONGWRITING
New York-based Brad Vickers and His Vestapolitans' good-natured The Music Gets Us Thru (Man Hat Tone) does exactly that with Louisiana-flavored blues and rock plus witty writing from vocalist Margey Peters. Her “Birds on My Family Tree” sounds like she's versed in the 1930s-40s Golden Age of Songwriting.
—Bruce Sylvester, GOLDMINE US
ANOTHER ENJOYABLE, VERY ENTERTAINING RELEASE
Singer/guitarist/bandleader Brad Vickers, bassist and vocalist Margey Peters, and a reliable crew of drummer Bill Rankin and saxman Jim Davis (plus some fine guests) continue their tradition of making very listenable albums of blues and roots music with this release, their seventh. There are plenty of fine originals, ranging from the rocking sound of “What In The World” (nice slide, Brad!) to Margey’s soulful, torchy “slowie”, “Now It’s Time For Me To Sing The Blues”. There is the obligatory Tampa Red cover with “I’ll Never Let You Go”, and excellent versions of Jimmy Reed’s “Take It Slow” and Larry Darnell’s “I’ll Be Sittin’, I’ll Be Rockin’”, and J. B. Lenoir’s “When I Am Drinking”, the latter a fine, tightly-controlled way to finish of another enjoyable, very entertaining release.
—Norman Darwen, BLUES & RHYTHM, UK
ROOTS AND ROLL TO THE MAX; Encapsulating the Entire Stars & Stripes with Taste, Touch and Passion
"The Music Gets Us Thru is a thoroughly enjoyable album that delivers a diverse mix of great American music. What did tickle me though, there are no deep throated growls or screams, no “y’all’s” or “baby done left me’s,” with everything under perfectly lovely control with crystal clear annunciation too. Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans sure can play ‘Roots & Roll’ to the max; encapsulating the entire Stars & Stripes with taste, touch, passion and enthusiasm. I’m now going back in search of their back catalogue of 6 previous releases and I strongly suggest you ought to consider the same."
—Jack Kidd, THE ROCKING MAGPIE, UK
A FINE ALBUM!
"“The Music Gets Us Thru” traverses the entire palette of variants of the style. There is no string racing here, just musicians who all play at the service of the song, and perform in a very tasteful way. In short, a fine album."
—Martin Van Der Velde, BLUES N ROOTS CORNER, Netherlands
" “The Music Gets Us Thru” by Brad Vickers and His Vestapolitans is indisputable proof that music helps everyone feel good through dark days…”.
—Eric Schuurmans, ROOTSTIME, Belgium
A FOOTSTOMPING COLLECTION
"Guitarist and warm toned vocalist Brad Vickers delivers blues and boogies along with vocalist/composer Margey Peters for a footstomping collection of mostly originals. Peters belts out a gospel inflected “Now It’s Time For Me To Sing The Blues” and is a hoot on “Birds On My Family Tree” and “When I Am Drinking”. The team of Bill Rankin/dr, Peters/b, Dave Gross/g, Dave Keyes/p-org and Jim Davis–VD King/reeds mix and match as Vickers sings along to his Chuck Berry riffs on “What In The World” and the title tune. Some nice Delta work by Vickers on the bottle neck teams with Peters on the swampy folk of “Grab My Car Keys”, and Charlie Burnham brings in his violin for some western swing on “Big Wind”, while Mikey Junior blows a Lake Michigan wind on his harp for “Take It Slow”. Two stepping the blues on this night out." —George W. Harris, JAZZ WEEKLY, US
NOT ONLY FUN, BUT INVENTIVE AND SKILLFULLY RENDERED!
"They have a great feel for the vintage sounds and the album succeeds on the merits of the varying instrumental configurations that are not only fun but inventive and skillfully rendered."
—Jim Hynes, MAKING A SCENE, US
GREAT TOE-TAPPING FUN!
"It’s all great, toe-tapping fun, both musically and lyrically, the sort of album that leaves you with a smile on your face. The album, Brad says, is “in memory of those we lost, in honor of the front-line and essential workers and in gratitude for all the great music that got us thru.” That’s a fine sentiment, and as the pandemic lingers, we need as much of this sort of good, positive music as we can get."
—Gary Burnett, DOWN AT THE CROSSROADS, UK
ALL SOUNDS GREAT! 4 1/2 STARS!
"As an accomplished guitarist, Brad opens with the swinging rocker 'Dumb Like A Fox'. Blazing, his incendiary guitar riffs and a swampy accordion feeling color the song. A Chicago blues inspired harmonica tune diverges with loads of Chuck Berry guitar riffs in songs like “Take It Slow”. Time for an early-sixties [style] soul ballad with “Please Don't Say”. The saxophone arrangements are again a constant in the song. They harmonize with the swinging bluegrass songs “Big Wind” and “I'll Never Let You Go”. Berry's famously-influenced guitar riffs also color the title track, “The Music Gets Us Thru,” and that sultry tenor sax gives stature to the swinging rockers “Now It's Time For Me To Sing The Blues” and “What In The World”. We go to the Delta for the acoustic “Grab My Car Keys”. The jazzy tracks “I'll Be Sittin', I'll Be Rockin” and “Birds On My Family Tree” continue with the closing “When I Am Drinking”. The record “The Music Gets Us Thru” is an album that is full of many blues sub-styles: Blues, swinging rock songs, some Chuck Berry-inspired guitar riffs, some bluegrass, jazz, and a rare ballad. So, That all sounds great..! 4 1/2 stars!"
—Philip Verhaege, KEYS AND CHORDS, Belgium
SHOULD BE A GREAT SUCCESS!
"The guitarist continues to distill his beautiful notes for an audience fond of blues, roots ’n’ roll, and American music, offering a subtle mix of original pieces and neat covers in which he strives to infuse a little of his personality and his particular style. Brad Vickers put this new cake in the oven just before the first lockdown and has endeavored to offer an anthology of pieces in which he pays homage to an entire, very wide artistic palette. Looking from time to time to the other side of the Delta, but also regularly towards the rhythms coming from Louisiana in general, and New Orleans in particular. We are easily carried away by [original] compositions like “Dumb Like A Fox”, “Big Wind”, “Now It's Time For Me To Sing The Blues” and “Birds On My Family Tree”, but also by classics like “Take It Slow” by Jimmy Reed, “I'll Never Let You Go” by Tampa Red, “I'll Be Sittin', I'll Be Rockin'” by Larry Darnell, and of course, “When I'm Drinking” by JB Lenoir. We appreciate the duality of the voices, Brad Vickers' masculine vocals contrasting with the feminine vocals of Margey Peters, and finally, bringing to "The Music Gets Us Thru" the little cachet [(style)] that suits him so well. Strolling between joie de vivre and melancholy, this new work by Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans should be a great success upon its release on September 7th!"
—Fred Delforge, ZICAZINE, France
JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED
"Good music has certainly made the last couple of years bearable for many of us, and Vickers’ brand of old school boogie-woogie is just what the doctor ordered if you’ll pardon the pun. A mix of originals and covers of long time favorites, this disc is splendid company...Like Brad himself notes, “as always we celebrate the music that we love, and the styles that have influenced us; blues, folk, jump and great American roots ‘n’ roll”, and that’s the secret to the success they’ve enjoyed thus far: making the music that turns them on...The blues is, by and large, a simple, honest and straightforward art form, and the humanity found in the songs on “The Music Gets Us Thru” is a treat. Let the joy and conviction that these tunes are played and sung with wander into other areas of your life, and I bet you’ll have more good days than bad."
—John Kereiff, The Rock Doctor, GO, GONZO OKANAGAN, Canada
A FUN NIGHT OUT!
Guitarist and warm-toned vocalist Brad Vickers delivers blues and boogies along with vocalist/composer Margey Peters for a foot-stomping collection of mostly originals. Peters sings a gospel number that says "Now It's Time For Me To Sing The Blues" and she is a hoot on "Birds On My Family Tree" and "When I Am Drinking". Some nice Delta work from Vickers on the bottleneck teams with Peters on a swampy folk from "Grab My Car Keys" and Charlie Burnham brings in his fiddle for some western swing on "Big Wind" while Mikey Junior blows a Lake Michigan wind on his harp for "Take It Slow". Two step the blues on this fun night out.
—Freddy Celis, ROOTSVILLE, Belgium
THIS ALBUM IS A MUST HAVE
"The Music Gets Us Thru" by Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans is a very pleasant and varied album. For the music lovers who still crave the music of the fifties and sixties, this album is a must have.
—Walter VanHeuckelom CONCERT MONKEY, Belgium
NEVER STOPS ENTERTAINING
"As versatile as they are talented, they draw on Cajun music, blues, roots rock, jazz, pop, and folk. The result is an album that features many twists and turns but never stops entertaining."
—Jeff Burger, JEFFBERGER.COM, US
TRUE TO THEIR ROOTS...A FUN SET OF TUNES
"He’s got a new old time sound, blending the sounds from days of yore with new songs and interesting covers. Vickers fronts the band and plays guitar and occasional bass. Margey Peters shares in fronting the band and handles most of the bass duties. Bill Rankin is solid on the drums. Jim Davis is super as saxophonist throughout. V.D. King helped produce the album and adds many an instrument throughout. Vickers’ vocals are probably delivered here as well, if not better than, any of their albums. These guys and gal are dedicated to their craft."
—Steve Jones, BLUES BLAST MAGAZINE, US
BLUES IN ALL ITS RICHNESS AND BRILLIANCE
"Brad and his company perform both their original songs and well-known blues standards deeply, honestly without any pretense, and deliver their blues in all its richness and brilliance. If you love acoustic-electric traditional blues, which is deeply involved in the traditional richness of black American music, this is the right choice for you."
—Mladen Loncar, THE BLUES CORNER, SOUNDGUARDIAN, Croatia
A LOVELY MIX OF BLUES, RAGTIME, ROOTS 'N' ROLL
Brad Vickers is back with his Vestapolitans with a new release, following 2019’s “Twice As Nice”, with the apt title, “The Music Gets Us Thru”.Recorded just before lockdown, the album brings us more of the camaraderie and good vibes of its predecessor. The core group of Vickers on guitar & vocals, Margey Peters on bass & vocals, drummer Bill Rankin on drums, and Jim Davis on saxophones is backed by an assortment of friends and musical cohorts, playing a lovely mix of blues, ragtime, hill country, and roots ’n’ roll. Jimmy Reed’s “Take It Slow” features some nice work from guests Mikey Junior and Dean Shot on harmonica and lead guitar. Margey Peters’ “Big Wind” sounds like a favorite old standard, and is supported by V.D. King’s upright bass, wrapped with Charlie Burnham’s violin and Dave Gross’s fat-toned but old school guitar flourishes. The title track might be assumed to be about current events, but is actually describing the tribulations of playing on the road, behind some classic honky tonk piano by Dave Keyes. “What In The World” features Vickers playing slide throughout in “Vastapol” tuning, commonly known as open tuning. As in “Twice As Nice”, Margey Peters’ songs and vocals play a large role enabling Vickers to lay back in the comfortable role of side-man. Alternating between the two different vocal style of Vickers and Peters creates a nice contrast for the listener. On Tampa Red’s “I’ll Never Let You Go”, Jim Davis ditches his sax in favor of the clarinet, lending an even more old-time feel to the number.Listening to “The Music Gets Us Thru” is like getting together with some nice old friends for a pleasant evening after not seeing each other for a couple of years.
—Bob Monteleone, BIG CITY BLUES, US
I HAVE NO DOUBT...A FRESH TAKE!
Brad Vickers a veteran of the modern blues community, brings us another helping of rhythm, blues, and vintage rock ’n’ roll. The title of the album, “The Music Gets Us Thru”, stands especially poignant during these unusually blues-y times. Throughout the album, Vickers remains true to the necessities of an essential blues record. The rhythm section screams of authenticity with wife [sic] Margey Peters on bass alongside Bill Rankin on drums (with V.D. King providing the upright bass on tracks four and eight). The guitar work by Dave Gross, Dean Shot, and Vickers himself provides a down-home top layer to the solid under-workings of the band. Many blues enthusiasts would argue that keys are a necessity for the best of blues recordings, and as such they are present on select tracks performed by Dave Keyes and King. Finally, a funky horn section rides above the air space of several songs throughout the album, providing a city slickness to an already clever album....Vickers excels is in his arrangements and songwriting.
Vickers continues to contribute more range to the album with early rock ’n’ roll styled tunes. “What In The World,” and the title track. On both, the listeners is provided with a candid rock ’n' roll experience. On “The Music Gets Us Thru,” the rhythm section gives the feeling or a tour bus constantly rolling on, without breaks, detailing the taxing life of a musician on the road. As Vickers assures us, however, the music gets us through.
Vickers’ band will not disappoint any passionate listener of the blues. The album displays a variety of sounds, all the while allowing his influences to show unreservedly. Vickers dips deep into the common blues canon that we have all come to love and comes out with a fresh take reflection the goings-on in the current political and social landscape. I have no doubt “The Music Gets Us Thru.” —Max Kaplan, BLUES MUSIC MAGAZINE, US
REVIEWS: Mighty Nice Words About "Twice As Nice"
“Guitarist emeritus...,Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans just released a good album mixing traditional blues, jump blues and rock’n’roll...with beautiful compositions where the slide is distilled sparingly and with good taste; the horns are superbly applied, and you can feel the craft of the protagonists. It is devilishly well-played and deserves to be heard.”
—Marc Loison, BLUES ALIVE 76, France
BADASS LINEUP, LUSTY SOUL, RIVETING GUITAR!
Native New Yorker Vickers has augmented his usual bad-ass bass/drums/sax lineup for the first time with fiddle, harmonica, keyboards and banjolele. Vickers sings with lusty soul and plays a riveting guitar, including bottleneck, switching to bass when composer/bassist Margey Peters steps out front on her closing—and poignant—“Brooklyn Evenings.” With 11 slices of jump-blues, shuffles, updated folk and roots-rock. a portrait emerges of a band in perfect sync. Humor is part of their presentation too, like in Brad’s “Mississippi Swamp,” about the time he encountered a talking bullfrog.
—Mike Goldblatt, GOLDMINE
AN ABSOLUTE MUST!
"Smooth songs, interspersed with calm ballads, ragtime with jazz, down-home blues with soul. Songs that deserve special mention are the "Twice Is Nice" sung by Margey Peters with a nice bottleneck guitar by Vickers and the clarinet played by Jim Davis, the blues shuffle "Everything I Need" and the modest "Red Dust", an ode to the Native Americans. In short, "Twice As Nice" has become a very beautiful album with authentic blues. An absolute must!"
—Eric Campfens, BARN OWL BLUES, Netherlands
LET THE PARTY BEGIN!
"Twice As Nice" reminds us how much Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are artists who love American music in all its forms, and who never miss the slightest opportunity to showcase it with strength and respect...Refreshing on the most energetic titles, arresting on the slowest blues, the album turns out to be a veritable whirlpool in which one will much appreciate the slide [guitar] parts, which are always very well-dosed by the flights of horns, which never miss an opportunity to fly. Let the party begin!"
—Fred Delforge ZICAZINE, France
CONFIRMED AS LEADING ARTISTS!
"From the very first listening, we are catapulted into a sort of “musical time machine” that allows us to land in the ’fifties of the last century and to be with the masters of blues, ragtime, jazz, rockabilly, folk, and rock & roll—all played and interpreted with skill and credibility....A very enjoyable album, recommended for all fans of the genre, with “Twice As Nice” Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are confirmed as leading artists."
—Stefano Tognoni, IL POPOLO DEL BLUES
A REAL PLAYER THAT ISN'T PLAYING AROUND
"When cats like this jam them together, all you can do is let the good times roll. A real player that isn't playing around, this is just a solidly right-on set that delivers throughout. Hot stuff."
—Chris Spector, MIDWEST RECORD ENTERTAINMENT
NOTHING BUT WONDERFUL LISTENING BLUES
"Rarely have I heard anything that is so "laidback", and so natural sounding that it makes Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans a pleasure to listen to. Brad was inspired by almost all the blues greats, although Jimmy Reed is one of his major examples. What is the best way to listen to Brad Vickers? Just come together with some friends and do nothing on the Sunny Side of the Street, and listen...Blues, nothing but wonderful listening blues"
—Freddy Celis, ROOTSVILLE, Belgium
GREAT SONGWRITING...FULL OF DEEP CUTS
Brad Vickers' new record, with Margey Peters and lots of wonderful guests is called "Twice as Nice" but honestly... it's like "11 times as nice" because all 11 tracks are fantastic, soooo tasteful in everyway. Beautifully produced with the perfect mix of instrumentation. I just LOVE this record and it's been a constant to listen to since I received it. Vickers and his Vestapolitans have a really cool sound and vibe and great song writing - alongside standards like "Stealin' Stealin'" ... My favorite of the originals is "Love can Win"... it's really a record full of deep cuts.
—Ilana Katz Katz, WOMEN IN BLUES
IN SHORT, A GREAT ALBUM!
"Twice As Nice" is a fully relaxed and authentic blues album with small side trips into rag and jazz. No guitar shredding here, just musicians who play the at the service of the songs and perform them in a very tasteful way. In short a great album!"
—Martin Van de Velde, BLUES MAGAZINE, Netherlands
A GOOD NIGHT DOWN AT THE JUKE JOINT!
I've always enjoyed the music of Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans, and this sixth album is no exception.
Is he rewriting the rule book of the blues and demolishing boundaries? Thankfully, no. What he does is stick to the roots of the blues across a set of originals and covers which could have sat happily anytime between the 1940s and the present day...It all sits together in the manner of a good night down at the juke joint.I'm particularly fond of the songs where the unfortunately named V D King whips out his baritone sax, do "Love Can Win", "Close Together", and "Everything I Need" score highly. Best of all is their take on the Tampa Red tune, "Look A There, Look A There", which is just a joy!
ALWAYS TASTY AND TO THE POINT!
Brad Vickers’ clean guitar tone contains no frills, and his playing is never flashy, but always tasty and to the point. There’s a down-home charm to the album as a whole. It feels like a gathering of friends in a comfy living room, playing songs with each other, no stress. “Twice As Nice” is unpretentious and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable listen."
—Bob Monteleone, BIG CITY BLUES Magazine
THIS ALBUM SHOULD RAISE THEIR PROFILE—IT'S THAT GOOD!
It’s a fun time catching up with the preservation society known as Brad Vickers and The Vestapolitans. This album should raise their profile; it’s that good.”
—Richard Ludmerer, MAKING A SCENE
FANS WILL CLAMOR FOR THIS ONE!
Vestapolitan fans will clamor for this one. If you are not familiar with Vickers and his band and their style, this will give you a full taste of the sort of things they do. Featuring a great group of regular and visiting musicians, you’ll get a good sampling of their stuff and how they mix music and a little humor to practice their craft."
—Steve Jones, BLUES BLAST
TIMELESS GROOVES, A DELICIOUS MIX!
Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans deliver some excellent, timeless grooves designed to get folks moving and smiling. The music – both originals and covers – is a delicious mix of blues, ragtime, jazz, folk and rock and roll, featuring both male and female lead vocals.
– Michael Doherty, MICHAEL’S MUSIC BLOG
YOU CAN'T HELP BUT JUMP AROUND AND HAVE A GOOD TIME!
On this release Brad Vickers and His Vestapolitans celebrate the music they love and the styles that have influenced them - blues, folk, jump and "great American roots 'n' roll". Of the eleven tracks, seven are originals and they cover classics like Big Maceo's "Worried Life Blues", Jimmy Reed's "Close Together", Will Shade's jug band classic "Stealin' Stealin'" and Tampa Red's "Look A There, Look A There". Their sound harks back to the vintage 50's style of roots music and you can't help but jump around and have a good time with this one.
—Marty, THE BLUES MUSIC BLOG, Australia
“I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, "Twice As Nice", from Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans and it's freewheeling blues. Opening with Big Maceo's "Worried Life Blues", Vickers on guitar and lead vocal leads the Vestapolitans in a traditional shuffle. With Bill Rankin on drums, Margey Peters on bass, Jim Davis on tenor sax, Dave Keyes on piano, V.D. King on bari sax, and Dean Shot on guitar, a solid opener. On Jimmy Reed's "Close Together", Margey Peters joins on backing vocal and bass. Her touch gives the track an additional dimension. And a raspy sax solo from Davis adds a nice spice. "Coast to Coast" is a cool rocker with hot solos by Vickers, Keyes, and Davis. Very cool. Vickers turns over the mic to Peters for "Twice As Nice", deferring his work to bottleneck guitar and with wailing nice clarinet by Davis. Memphis Jug Band's "Stealin' Stealin'" is my favorite track on the release with Mikey Junior on vocal and harmonica with Peters (who also plays bass) and Vickers on guitar, Rankin on drums, Davis on sax, and King on bari sax. Mikey Junior, Davis and Vickers take real nice solos on "Look A There Look A There", a super swing rocker with great tempo. Very nice. Wrapping the release is another Peters original, "Brooklyn Evenings". With its rimshot timing and featuring Charlie Burnham on violin, it has an old style blues feel and with Vickers shifting over to bass, Dave Gross' guitar work adds a nice sparkle to the closer.”
—BMAN’s BLUES REPORT
MIXES ALL SORTS OF ROOTS INFLUENCES IN HIS OWN MAGIC CAULDRON
“For those unfamiliar with Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans “Twice As Nice” will provide a solid, true example of the band, as well as a full array of their style and the nuances that they more or less habitually put forth. A champion of an old, almost ancient sound, Brad Vickers puts all sorts of roots influences in his own magic cauldron, adding a vocal and instrumental style that is fully aligned with the music. Once the ingredients are blended, the rabbit extracted from the hat is of mixed lineage and brings obvious traces, in its genetic make-up, of ragtime, hill country blues, jug band blues, jump, and roots 'n' roll.
And the repertoire, which swings amiably between unreleased songs and remakes, includes, among the highlights, a slowed-down and down home version of Big Maceo's “Worried Life Blues”, two amazing re-releases taken from Jimmy Reed (“Close Together” and “Everything I Need” [This one actually an homage, in Reed’s style written by Margey Peters] the latter disguised as Chicago shuffle), as well as some tributes to a distant past with the re-enactments of a couple of titles by Will Shade and Tampa Red to which the voice—with its viscous and sleepy nasal reflections, of Margey Peters, who shares the vocal tasks with Vickers—gives the typical flavor of a classic blues.
Standing out from the pack a little, the lament for the [American] Indian “Red Dust” arises; while the concluding “Brooklyn Evenings” (....in the summertime...) are brightly lit by Dave Gross's pleasantly stinging guitar. “
—Giovanni Rubino, MACALLE BLUES, Italy
“The siixth album form the New York outfit—and guests—fits right in with its predecessors. Like them, this consists of blues all the way, from the vintage, but slightly updated sound of The Memphis Jug Band’s “Stealin’ Stealin’ ”, with baritone sax replacing the jug, and the vaudeville blues of the title track, an original by bassist and singer Margey Peters, though I wouldn’t have guessed, to the Chuck Berry-styled “Coast To Coast”—that’s about as modern as these guys ever get. Tampa Red is another big influence, particularly on leader Brad, as is Jimmy Reed, and both provide one (lesser-known) song each here. “Red Dust” is the experimental number on this release, inspired by Native American music, but with blues instrumentation—it works, too. Another winner from these guys.
—Norman Darwen, BLUES & RHYTHM, UK
IMAGINATIVE AND CREATIVE!
“Brad Vickers continues to add to his legacy as one of the premier blues musicians working today. ...The songs of Peters and Vickers compliment each other. Vickers’ “Mississippi Swamp” retains a sense a humor amid Vickers’ bottleneck guitar and guest Mickey Junior’s harmonica. Margey’s “Coast To Coast” is a rollicking tune about traveling down the road. Vickers “Red Dust” has a little bite to it as he explores the plight of Native Americans. Margey Peters “Brooklyn Evenings” is a poignant look into a past that can never be re-created. The best of the cover songs is an exploration of Jimmy Reed’s “Close Together” that brings a lot of energy to the original.
Brad Vickers has created an imaginative and creative album of blues related tracks. Twice As Nice is an album of songs by a veteran bluesman doing what he does best. ***1/2” —David Bowling, CASHBOX
START EXPERIENCING THIS WONDERFUL MUSIC
"I’ve enjoyed Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans’ good-natured, good-humored approach to traditional American music—blues, jazz, folk, ragtime, and rock—for a long time. His previous five albums never fail to impress with their musicianship, creativity, and heart, and their latest release, Twice As Nice (Man Hat Tone Records) continues to build and improve on the band’s quality catalog.
Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans never disappoint this fan. I always look forward to any new release from them because you know you’ll get a quality set of traditional music that spans blues, jazz, R&B, and classic rock n’ roll like no one else does at this current point in time. Twice As Nice is a great place for the uninitiated to start experiencing this wonderful music, but you will not want to stop once you start."
—Graham Clarke, BLUES BYTES
ONE OF THE STRONGEST FORMATIONS ON THE CURRENT BLUES SCENE
With great and genuine pleasure I have just received Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans’ sixth album...The CD combines their own compositions with a few [cover]versions like “Worried Life Blues,” coming from Big Maceo Merriweather and "Close Together" by Jimmy Reed, all with very good semi-electric arrangements. During the years of their career the band has established itself as one of the strongest formations on the current blues scene...The result is a relaxed and very pleasant to hear album that will satisfy the palates of most fans of roots blues, filled with many colors and nuances to discover.
—Vicente Zumel, LA HORA del BLUES, Spain
THEY DELIVER ON ALL THAT THE MONIKER IMPLIES
The band is at its best when the group eases the tempo and allows for more of a light-hearted feel. The easy saunter of “Love Can Win”, with its optimistic and insistent refrain, translates as a much-needed mantra for these troubled times, while a slow strutting version of Jimmy Reed’s “Close Together” not only slows the pace, but reflects all the song suggests. It’s one more reason to believe that when it came time to choose the title for the album as a whole, Vickers and his colleagues fully intended to deliver on all the moniker would effectively imply.”
—Lee Zimmerman, LIVING BLUES
COOL AS THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PILLOW
"Brad Vickers has played with numerous legends...He’s found the time to put together a fantastic backing band, The Vestapolitans, and they have just released their sixth overall album, this one entitled “Twice As Nice,” for Man Hat Tone Music. It is a sweet collection of originals and covers that keeps alive Brad’s musical vision of spreading excellent blues and roots music to the masses. Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans continue to mesh vintage blues sounds with rock, jump, and roots music to create their own groove that’s as cool as the other side of the pillow! Dig “Twice As Nice” for some real good-time blues!!! Until next time…"
—Don and Sheryl Crow, DON & SHERYL's BLUES BLOG
THIS IS OLD-TIME MUSIC AT ITS BEST
"The music of Brad Vickers & His Vestapoitans; whether blues, ragtime, or vintage rock 'n' roll, is steeped in traditions that go back to a time before the history of music being set to paper. It's a style that he refers to as "Roots 'n' Roll." The days when he would emulate the old masters is long past. This is not what he does; it's who and what he is...This is old-time music at its best."
—Bill Wilson, REFLECTIONS IN BLUE
A REAL PLAYER THAT ISN'T PLAYING AROUND
"With a CV as authentic as a Paul Butterfield or a Corky Siegel (and I'm comparing this guitar man to harmonica players because...?) this white boy with the blues wants you to party whether you call it roots 'n' roll, West Side Chicago, or whatever. Since we're so deep in the mash-up era, I don't think anyone knows the difference between Piedmont and Central Avenue anymore, so when cats like this jam them together, all you can do is let the good times roll. A real player that isn't playing around, this is just a solidly right-on set that delivers throughout. Hot stuff."
—Chris Spector, MIDWEST RECORD ENTERTAINMENT
I CAN'T THINK OF ANYONE...WHO HAS A GROOVE LIKE THESE CATS
"While the album cover won't ever win any awards, it caught my eye on a busy day, and when I slid it in the office CD player [I] crossed my fingers hoping the music would live up to the Hot Rod billing.I can't think of anyone in particular who has a groove like these cats...Yet again I've unearthed a big ole unit of a R&B Band that will undoubtedly never visit my part of the Universe; yet they sound like the best night I'll never have!"
—Alan Harrison, THE ROCKING MAGPIE
LOOKING GOOD! 4 1/2 STARS
Brad Vickers presents his new album "Twice As Nice". Brad opens with Big Maceo Merriweather’s "Worried Life Blues" and the track "Mississippi Swamp" with Mikey Junior on bluesharp. The soulful "Love Can Win" exemplifies the strongly divergent material, including Jimmy Reed's Chicago blues "Close Together", and [their] "Coast To Coast". Guest singer Margey Peters gives "Twice As Nice" a jazzy vocal form. "Red Dust" is perhaps the odd man out. Give us the swinging "Everything I Need", the enthusiastic jugband "Stealin" Stealin," and the rocking classic "Look A There Look A There". Margey Peters is back for the closing number "Brooklyn Evenings". Looking Good! 4 ½ Stars!
—Philip Verhaege, KEYS & CHORDS, Belgium
A HEAPING HELPING OF CHARM!
They say that music is one of the surest ways to time travel, and Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans have it down. On "Twice As Nice", their 6th album, they take us back to the sixties for a heaping helping of what they call “blues, folk, jump and great American roots ‘n’ roll”, celebrating the music they love with obvious affection. "Twice As Nice" is a collection of lively exchanges by all of the musicians involved, replete with some great sax solos and fine playing by all. Vickers has a lived- in voice that gives these tracks a kind of wobbly charm that’s hard to find in music these days...Vickers learned his craft on the job playing, recording and touring with blues and roots masters Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta and Roscoe Gordon. Knowing that before you put this on gives you an idea of what to expect...The sound here is straightforward and uncomplicated, much like it would have been done back in the day when Brad was playing with the people listed. As Brad says in the press releases, “I hope you have half as much fun listening, as we had making Twice As Nice!” You know? I kinda did.
—John Kereiff, The Rock Doctor, GONZO MAGAZINE, Canada
THIS GUY CAN HIT THE STRINGS!
Brad Vickers sings with a pop styled voice and plays guitar like a juke joint junkie as he rocks the blues with a team of Bill Rankin/dr, Margey Peters/b, Jim Davis/ts, VD King/bs, Dave Keyes/or and Mickey Junior/harp-voc in a cut and paste fashion of songs. With Junior’s harp, there’s some two stepping on “Stealin’ Stealin’” and shuffling on “Look A There Look A There.” Vickers picks out a winner on the boogie’d “Coast To Coast”, and his take on Jimmy Reed’s classic “Close Together”, and gets some earth-shattering tones out of his strings. On bottleneck, Vickers creates a rural mood on “Red Dust”, with his high tone voicings creating a sweet and sour contrast to the foreboding environs, whereas the title track bounces with some exquisite riffs. This guy can hit the strings!
—George W. Harris, JAZZ WEEKLY
THE STORY OF A LIFE THAT IS, ABOVE ALL, BLUES
“We could betray that we had not duly informed ourselves, and, think that the name of Brad Vickers was that of a new guitarist on the scene, if not a debut for the Vestapolitans. Nothing could be more wrong, because this record is actually the continuation of an autonomous work by one of those characters who are too often shadowed by the fame of the fathers with whom they had the honor of treading the stages, born with music, and part of it with all the naturalness of a native tongue. The result is another appreciable sound, witness to an experience more than that of the present, with a spontaneous blues...what remains on the line is most sincere, and this, the immutable trademark of the sounds of the origins, squarely within the confines of the style.”
—Matteo Fratti, IL BLUES, Italy
BROADMINDED PREWAR BLUES AND JAZZ!
This cohort of New Yorkers continue in the vein established over their first five releases: a full band, playing predominantly acoustically; a broadminded attitude toward styles, with a prewar blues and jazz feel often informing the music due only in part to the presence of staple jug and string infuences.
—Kevin Hardy, MAINSTREET BLUES, KCOR
NEW YORK NATIVE LOVES OLD-TIME BLUES!
New York native Brad loves old-time music, as the name of his group—which takes from a guitar tuning popular in the 1920s—implies. And all of the 11 tunes on “Twice As Nice”—four covers and seven originals—feature his seven-piece band and come across with the feel of a bygone era. Vickers knows the music well. Before launching the Vestapolitans in the mid-2000s, he enjoyed a lengthy career as a sideman with several of the biggest names in blues and roots, including Odetta, Chuck Berry, Rosco Gordon, among others. He and bassist Margey Peters share vocals in a set that mixes traditional blues, ragtime and more. Give a good listen to “Worried Life Blues”, the Big Maceo classic that was a regal part of Berry’s set, “Mississippi Swamp”, the driving “Coast to Coast”, the vocal duet “Red Dust”, Memphis Jug Band founder will Shade’s “Look A There Look A There”, and “Brooklyn Evenings.”
–Marty Gunther RED HOT & BLUES