Great New Interviews! Brad tells what it was like behind the scenes with the blues masterss!
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".
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!
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: Nice Words About "Twice As Nice"
LET THE PARTY BEGIN!
"Singer and guitarist, Brad Vickers earned his bluesman stripes by playing and recording with such acclaimed artists as Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, and was credited on such major albums as "Born In The Delta” and “Pinetop Perkins & Jimmy Rogers, Genuine Blues Legends", which earned him Grammy and Blues Music Awards nominations. Today as the head of his own group, the Vestapolitans, he is joined here by Charlie Burnham on violin, Jim Davis on clarinet and saxophone, Dave Gross and Dean Shot on guitars, Mikey Junior on vocals, Dave Keyes on keyboards, Margey Peters on bass, Bill Rankin on drums and finally VD King on various instruments, Brad Vickers returns with a new album in which he gives free rein to his passion for blues, rag, rock; more broadly roots'n'roll. The space of three quarters of an hour is filled with good vibrations. "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. Through [their own] lesser-known compositions as "Mississippi Swamp", "Coast To Coast", "Red Dust" and "Brooklyn Evenings," but also on a few borrowed from Big Maceo Merriweather ("Worried Life Blues "), Jimmy Reed ("Close Together "), Tampa Red ("Look A There Look A There") and Will Shade ("Stealin 'Stealin' "). 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
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
NOTHING BUT WONDERFUL LISTENING BLUES
"My first introduction to "Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans" must have been with the album "Le Blues Hot", about 11 years ago. Brad Vickers has been playing for a while now, and once played with Pinetop Perkins. 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 is 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. You don't even have to talk to each other, just enjoy yourself. On "Twice As Nice" we find 11 track, and they open with the Chicago shuffle "Worried Like Blues", a blues standard that was recorded in 1941 by Big Maceo Merriweather. Ragtime and country lbues sometime go hand-in-hand with Brad, and you find this with the original "Mississippi Swamp". Bass player and vocalist Margey Peters wrote the next song, "Love Can Win". Margey is an important source of songs on this album. "Coast To Coast", The title track, a jazzy blues called "Twice As Nice", "Everything I Need", and the concluding number, "Brooklyn Evenings" are also from her hand. With Jimmy Reed as an example, a song of his cannot be missed, so Brad & His Vestapoitans bring "Close Together" in true Reed style. Blues, nothing but wonderful listening blues, and so is the closing NOLA blues, "Brooklyn Evenings".
—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
IN SHORT, A GREAT ALBUM!
Brad Vickers’ roots are in the Pine Barrens, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. As a descendant of a musical family, he grew up in a rural environment. His grandfather played lap steel and drums. As bass player for Little Mike and the Tornadoes, he had the opportunity to work with a number of highly renowned blues artists, to learn firsthand. Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Rosco Gordon. These, Odetta, and Sleepy LaBeef are just a small selection of the artists he has been able to provide with bass. Brad Vickers has even made studio recordings with a number of them, such as Pinetop Perkins, who asked him to play on "Born In The Delta" (Telarc) and "Ladies Man" (MC Records), both albums earning grammy nominations. Since 2008 he has been playing with his own band, The Vestapolitans, with which he had released five previous albums, "Le Blues Hot" (2008), "Stuck With The Blues" (2010), "Traveling Fool" (2011), "Great Day In The Morning” 2013) and "That's What They Say" (2015) all on the Man Hat Tone Music label.
The name Vestapolitans comes from vestapol, which means open guitar tuning and fit exactly when he was trying to think of a good catchy band name that starts with the letter V. Brad Vickers, who has been inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame as a Master Bluesman, has been strongly influenced by blues, folk, rags and American roots ‘n’ roll. This is reflected in his most recent album 'Twice As Nice', which again has been released on the Man Hat Tone label. On the recording he is supported by bass player Margey Peters, drummer Bill Rankin, and saxophonist Jim Davis, along with violinist Charlie Burnham, guitarists Dave Gross and Dean Shot, singer and harmonica player Mikey Junior, keyboard player Dave Keyes and the multi-instrumentalist VD King, also co-producer of the project.
Brad Vickers kicks the album off with the lazy, authentic double shuffle “Worried Life Blues” by Big Maceo Merriweather, and then boosts the pace considerably in his own “Mississippi Swamp” with drumming, drumming, pulsating harp playing by Mikey Junior, and his own atmospheric slide playing. Funky tones are reflected in “Love Can Win,” written by Margey Peters, on which VD King and Jim Davis provide an extra funky atmosphere with their saxophone riffs.. With only brief reference, Jimmy Reed’s “Close Together” is completely a customized arrangement. Jim Davis provides the necessary blue note with his atmospheric saxophone playing. The rocking shuffle “Coast To Coast” has strong similarities to “Route 66,” and makes for a more uptempo piece on the album. In addition to the bass parts, Margey Peters can be found on vocals on the title track, “Twice As Nice,” which she wrote. The band manages to create a beautiful 1920s/1930s atmosphere here with acoustic instruments, and of Jim Davis’ clarinet work plays a very decisive role. Margey's fragile voice fits perfectly with this style of playing, something she repeats on the “Stealin "Stealin" rag, and the concluding “Brooklyn Evenings”—which sounds almost jazzy. In between, the band gives us two more shuffles, “Eveything I Need,” and “Look A There, Look A There,” each with its own tempo; and the spare, acoustically played “Red Dust,” which features a threatening undertone of bass and drums, around which Brad Vickers rolls out his slide parts.
"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
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. Over the years he has performed with numerous legendary artists including Chuck Berry, Lightnin' Hopkins, Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perhins, Hubert Sumlin, and many others. He was adopted into the family...actually being referred to by Pinetop at his godson. There is no greater recommendation or show of affection. On Twice As Nice Vickers brings his signature sound to tunes that range from blues to rock 'n' roll and beyond. Along with the "usual suspects" (Margey Peters, bass & vocal, Jim Davis: sax & clarinet, and Bill Rankin: drums) he is joined by Mikey Junior on harp & vocal, Dave Keyes on piano, Dave Gross [and Dean Shot] on guitar, and V.D. King on a wide assortment of instruments. Well-crafted original tunes and covers composed by Maceo Merriweather, Jimmy Reed, Will Shade and Tampa Red make for an album that is, at the very least, a lot of fun. Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are always delightful, and Twice As Nice is no exception. I put this one in a player along with Tampa Red and the Memphis Jug Band. While I preferred the older material, Brad Vickers and his crew did hold up. This is old-time music at its best."
—Bill Wilson, REFLECTIONS IN BLUE
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.
Well, if I had a car like either pictured, I'm damn sure I would have this disc welded into the hi-fi!
While obviously tipping his hat in admiration of loads of R&B and Southern Country acts over the years; I can't think of anyone in particular who has a groove like these cats.
The opening track finds Brad slowing down Big Maceo's “Worried Life Blues” to a stumble and a stroll; whereas the version I know by Chuck Berry is more of a strut; but twinkle in the eye is certainly still there.
Things hot up next on Mississippi Swamp, which is a jumpin' and Jivin' Blues that really plays on Vickers' vocal styling and choppy guitar, and you will find your heart racing in time with the bass,On “Coast to Coast” there's another hint of Chuck Berry in the guitar intro, but it’s the horn section, the piano, and Brad's distinctive voice that make it the type of song where you have one arm out the car window, the other on the steering wheel and your 'best gal' is snuggled up for a drive somewhere ..... anywhere.
While Brad Vickers takes top billing, bass player, associate producer, Margey Peters gets her moment in the spotlight too; and when she does, my knees go all wobbly! She goes all risqué on the title track, “Twice as Nice”, but rips your heart out with her smoky voice on “Love Can Win”, and she winds down the Honky Tonk on the slinky album closer “Brooklyn Evenings”. Plus, she wrote another humdinger that Vickers gets to wrap his larynx around; “Everything I Need,” being one of those R&B stompers that features some stiletto style guitar picking in the middle and close.
While I recognise a couple of other songwriter's names; I don't think I've heard Jimmy Reed's “Close Together” before; but if I have, it certainly didn't sound anything like this dark lament.It's a similar feeling with Tampa Red's “Look a There, Look a There”; which gets a hip and shiny Jumpin' Jive makeover here that will make even a man with a wooden leg want to dance.
For a fun and even sassy album, I'm going left of centre for my Favourite Track; as “Red Dust” arrives with no introduction and made me sit and stare at the speakers the first time I heard it. Why? You may ask. Well, this song is beautifully constructed ode to Native Americans that combines a traditional drum beat with some stinging Bottleneck guitar as Brad Vickers wrings the last drop of pathos out of this dark tale, then squeezes again. 10/10.
Perhaps if I have one criticism, this particular song could and should have ended the cycle; but being where it certainly had a profound effect on this chap.
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
REVIEWS: What They're Saying About "That's What They Say"
– Frank-John Hadley, DOWNBEAT
"I include Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans next to Duke Robillard, The Ragpickers String Band, and others in the front line. I enter this as evidence: I can safely and wholeheartedly recommend "That's What They Say"."
– Nathan Norgel, WASSER PRAWDA
"There is so much to recommend this brilliant collection..."
– Mark E. Gallo, BIG CITY RHYTHM & BLUES
"This album is a marvel of roots music, rarely performed with such quality, and, if there is any justice, should be crowned as best traditional album ever made for a long time"
- Erick Tonton, BLUES & CO.
"A romp through a thoroughly enjoyable range of blues, Americana, roots, rock 'n’roll and ragtime, all with a great old-timey vibe. This is just the sort of album that makes you smile the whole way through." (On "Best Blues Albums of 2015 List)
-DOWN AT THE CROSSROADS
"I’ve been a fan of Mr. Vickers for a few years now, and am in the habit of saying “He moves around from rockin’ blues, to jump blues, to ragtime, hitting all points in-between”. And it’s a great sound, one which continues on this latest release...The performances are uniformly excellent, and this is the kind of record that anyone who likes genuine, rootsy music should cock an ear to. There are a host of guest performances, but with Mr. Vickers setting the controls, this is a pure delight."
- Stuart Hamilton, UK ROCKER
Brad Vickers plays good-time traditional blues with authenticity and panache...If your tastes are both eclectic and catholic, this set will delight you!"
–Nick Rainsford, BLUES IN BRITAIN
"If you’ve previously encountered the Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans band with sheer joy, let’s now take it up a notch. One rarely hears music and songs so relaxed and free. The band plows the roots of the earth, criss-crossing the field completely. Old-timey, folk, blues, and rock ’n’ roll have unexpected encounters with each other while still having the whole palette sitting firmly in line."
- Mikke Nöjd, BLUES IN FINLAND
"It’s really a nice dictionary of American "old time music". The disc is number five for Brad Vickers, a good guitar player who came up in the court of Pinetop Perkins. The sound schemes of this new work unfold among old-time country, jug band music, early jazz, Appalachian music—not to mention the good old New Orleans rock and roll-style. We particularly liked the jazzy "Don’t You Love Your Daddy No Nore?", and "Fightin’ “, a poignant and meaningful gospel."
-Fabrizio Pozzi, FABRADIO
"Wow! This is blues and roots music like it has not been heard in decades..."This disc should garner awards for best traditional album of the year, at the very least..."This is one of those things that will rate high on my list of top picks for the year. Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are every bit the real deal. there is nothing contrived or unnatural about what they do at all...you won't find anything like this anywhere else in the blues world. These cats and kittens are the real deal!"
- Bill Wilson, REFLECTIONS IN BLUE
"Each song is better than the last.Regardless of whether it is a blues, ragtime, jazzy number or soul blues, it's obvious to the listener that the musicians sound really great. If you need and assessment of the album, it is a pure ten!"
- Mladen Loncar, SOUNDGUARDIAN
"The music jumps and swings just like an old-time string or jug band, with elements of Django and Grappelli interspersed throughout. The set starts with the only two covers out of the fifteen songs. First up is a poppin’ version of Tampa Red’s “my baby’s gone” song, “Seminole Blues.” Next up is a song Brad learned thru Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, “Don’t You Love Your Daddy No More.” On this version, Jim Davis’ clarinet and Dave Gross’ mandolin give it a ragtime feel. Speaking of ragtime, both Margey and Charles add fiddle to the “Twenty-First Century Rag,” where “your watch is a computer,” and “you can take a “robotic car” wherever you wanna go!
One of the most powerful cuts on the set is done a capella, save for Dave on percussion. It is “Fightin' , (in the name of the Lord)” a brooding tale of greed and the sordid direction this country seems to be heading, and features some deep gospel shoutin’ from Mikey Junior.
We had three favorites, too. Brad knows his love affair is coming to an end, due to the constant “ringside fights,” because “Everything About You Is Blue.” Margey takes the lead vocal on a jumpin’ little tune about every conceivable ethnic food delight one can imagine, “Mama’s Cookin.” Early in his career, Brad worked with Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. You can hear that influence in one of the first songs Brad wrote. It’s done as a duet with Margey, but with those fluid guitar lines and punchy sax, all that’s lacking in “Another Lonesome Road” is Nadine in that coffee-colored Cadillac!"
- Don and Sheryl Crow, DON & SHERYL'S BLUES BLOG