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Brady Adams – Interview

Elvis, PBR, and the Smurfs

Brady Adams is an entertaining rockabilly artist (and sometimes a duo) that’s travelled and played from Texas and everywhere in-between. He served his country for twenty years and now lives a life of leisure, Gretsch-licking, and good old Rock n’ Roll.

Here, he talks about his musical upbringing, life in the Air Force, his all-time favorite records, and much more.

I didn’t really have much of a life except hanging out with my friends/band mates.

What are some of your earliest musical memories?

Aside from dropping the needle on one of the earliest The Smurfs albums, I’d say it was riding in an RV with my Grandad listening to Sun Records artists … On tape of course, vinyl would have scratched. Elvis was at the tipitty top of that play list, skinny Elvis, not a lot of fat Elvis. I think those rides from Dayton to Knoxville handing Grandad PBR’s from the cooler while I was a younin’ probably had a huge influence on my musical tastes. It was a different time. You could drive down the road in a 40′ RV drinking “light beer” with a minor running around in the back. Its a miracle I made it to my double digit age.

However, my first concert was The Outlaws at a car show in Dayton, OH’s Hara Arena.

Who are some of your musical influences?

I started playing bass because my dad and his friends were all guitar players. They did the regular 70’s classic rock stuff. Later, he bought me my first guitar. I got a few Guitar World magazines and thought playing and sounding like the guys on the cover was what we as guitar players were supposed to do. I formed a band with my friends and we played classic rock stuff, which is still in heavy rotation now, but was classic by those times (Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, etc). Then Brian Setzer and the Stray Cats came on MTV. I was absolutely blown away. I think by then, The Stray Cats were a pretty big deal but weren’t very popular? Anyway, I immediately called my best friend at the time – “Jim, HOLY SHIT man you gotta listen to these guys!” I told my band mates and everyone. Unfortunately, they told me to shut up and play another song from Zeppelin III or something.

About this time, my dad was getting me my first REAL guitar. I told him I wanted a Gretsch like Brian Setzer. “Nope,” he says. “Those guitars aren’t good.” For many years, and buying a couple duds, I believed him. They’ve gotten much better at the mid grade level in the past couple years. Now I use those big things for every style of music I play, metal included. But they wont djent, so don’t ask for that. So he bought me a low end (but still very solid) Gibson Les Paul studio.

I thought for most of my high school days that I should sound like Page or Slash or … Every other Les Paul player. It wasn’t until I was halfway through my time in the USAF that I really stopped caring what others wanted and let my own choices be my influences. Now, I’d say my biggest musical influences are Brian Setzer (including all of his side projects), Jim Heath from Reverend Horton Heat (met him a few times and he gave me solid advice), Redd Volkeart (met him a few times and he gave a lesson or two), Carl Perkins, mid 90’s west coast punk, and unfortunately, all of the players listed at the way top of this super run on paragraph. You just cannot separate yourself from early influences. In the end we are all blues players.

What are some of your favorite classic records?

In no real particular order or reason:

1. The Stray Cats – The Stray Cats
2. Reverend Horton Heat – Lucky 7
3. Def Leopard – High and Dry
4. Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy (because its not…whack? like most of their other records)
5. Carl Perkins – Dance Album (it was his first recording at Sunn)

I always had a guitar or bagpipes with me pretty much no matter where we were

How did you start playing guitar and learning music?

One note at a time? Nah, from watching my old man kinda fail at it. But when I saw those guys playing at the area during the car show, I thought, how hard could it be? I also, like everyone else in middle school, was “forced” to be in the band. I played bass then played guitar. I didn’t really have much of a life except hanging out with my friends/band mates. They were always like a small team in the military. Very close knit, and very hard on each other but in a brotherly kind of way.

Talk a bit about life in the Air Force …

I spent 20 years as a TACP. I will admit I was not really great at it. The job is to work closely with Army shooters (infantry/artilery 90% – Special Forces 10%). We told airplanes where to drop bombs. Most of the guys were stronger/faster/smarter…or whatever. But I hung in there and did the thing.

I always had a guitar or bagpipes with me pretty much no matter where we were. It was fun while it lasted. I don’t really talk much with folks I was in with. There are two, maybe three folks I talk to from those days. Which is funny because it wasn’t that long ago.

How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?

I spent the last few years in the Air Force as an instructor/administrative dude. It allowed me to tour around TX. That’s where I met a lot of heavy hitters and little guys in the Rockabilly/Ameripolitain music scene/genre. The most important fellas is Rocko Cortez. He drums on and produces all the recorded stuff, I would be here without that Texan! However, my wife did not like the big city of San Antonio, I was not moving back to the Nashville area where she is from so we settled on our number 2 spot here in Savannah – I told folks for years that I was going to retire in Savannah. I was stationed at Ft Stewart in 2008 time frame. I never really left mentally because I just always knew I’d land back here. Here I am!

I took the knowledge and experience from San Antonio/Austin area/Texas tours and applied it to Savannah. In TX, I was very much a little fish in the Ocean of incredible players. For example, how are you going to play a song that was either written or made famous by the ACTUAL GUY whose playing literally next door! It all adds up to moving to a city where the fam could all agree, putting together an a bunch of songs, hitting up every venue in town, and playing hard. Oh, there is that time when the guys from Reverend Horton Heat put me on their guest list for a show at the Jinx. That made me look really cool I guess. But no, the reality is, getting out and playing good, If you can make it here/there then you can make it anywhere mentality.

Oh, there is that time when the guys from Reverend Horton Heat put me on their guest list for a show at the Jinx

Are there any Savannah artists you haven’t worked with, but would love to collaborate with?

Not really. The guys that I want to collaborate with, I already have jammed with or have things in the works. One thing I’d love to do is get all of the folks that perform regularly at Fia Rua Irish pub together and have a BIG session/event. There’s Tom Coooler / Levi Moore / Seldom Sober / Liv Annalise (not seen her name for awhile) / Whiskey and Wine. All these folks are great. All are very soulful so I’m not sure what my early 50’s style teen angst ridden, fast paced, rock and roll self could bring to the party except dad jokes and a cup o coffee. But it would be fun!

What are some of your favorite Savannah venues to perform in?

My favorite spot to hang out in is Fia Rua in Richmond Hill. It’s relaxed and the folks that work there are absolutely awesome. I do like the Barrellhouse South but I don’t think they really get what we do. Its funny playing really fast rockabilly tunes without a distorted guitar. Its like playing punk but from folks Grandparents or Great-grandparents era. I don’t think people realize that early Sun Records music was … hard!?!? Ive had guys who gig with me ask “what, you gonna get more peddles to sound cleaner?” Most guitar players use peddles to sound distorted or at least over driven, that’s not me.

When the early to mid 90’s famous players were doing their version of loud, my influences were doing punk and metal riffs…not distorted. So its tough to play the Barrellhouse for example because the audience expects to hear familiar sounds from the radio. But once they get used to the dance feel, they all seem very in to it. The Jinx was a cool spot and will be much missed.

We all make the scene here. Its small but its really good. It was a good choice to pick Savannah over a large metropolis

What are your thoughts on the current state of the Savannah music scene?

Well, its a mixed bag. Given that the population of Savannah and surrounding is pretty small compared to large cities, I’d say the music scene is one of the best I’ve seen. San Antonio-Austin has a HUGE population. You get a lot more talent, more venues, more fans/audience. But Savannah has the tourist population and is set up for foot traffic to hear bands play as they walk from place to place. That’s a real big deal.

As far as players go, the first person I met here was Phillip Wise. He runs several of the open mics around town and plays his own gigs. He brings in some of the nicest and supportive players. They flock to his open mics because its just a cool hang. Everyone has uplifting comments for each other. There are few trash talking folks.

For me, I’ve met the best rhythm section in town with Brandon Coleman and Tyler Faircloth. They play with several other acts and are phenomenal at it. I’m sure whoever they support will just sound better because those dudes are driving the rhythm. We all make the scene here. Its small but its really good. It was a good choice to pick Savannah over a large metropolis.

The down side is that there are no top tier players. Austin, Nashville, Dallas, LA, all have big hit guys. All of my TX friends are playing with folks that are well established. They have venues like Gruene Hall, River Road Ice House, Riely’s Tavern, The Continental, The Broken Spoke, we just don’t have those here. But we do have a close knit group of supportive players that are really cool hangs and an ever-changing population of tourists with bread to throw in the jar so that is something I’m very thankful for.

Any upcoming projects you’d like to mention?

I’ve got three upcoming projects, I’ll tell you about two. First, Brady and the Bazookas is working on the fourth collection of songs. It will very much have a Savannah influence. I keep pushing back the release because I’ve thrown away more songs that were supposed to go on this album that I released in the last 3 EPs. I do not want to write the same song 12 more times and call it “new.” I want it to really be special…or not…if it goes on too long I will just put out 8 or 12 numbers that I think folks could dance to.
I are working on a duo thing. Dale Watson and Jim Heath do a Dale and Jim…well, everyone in the music world knows Dale Watson so he pretty much has duos with all his friends. But I wanted to emulate that duo. Dale is a softer classic country singer. He sings about things that pull at your heart strings. Jim Heath is a psycho-billy rocker (who is also probably top 3 best guitar players alive today). Together, they made a great pair. I was looking for someone who was polar opposite of what I do but still compatible. I’ll find that guy sometime.

The third project is in the works but will include a mix of awesome stuff and things, It should be good but if its not then I shall blame those dastardly villains to our south … The Floridians from Florida!!!

Open Mic at Abe’s: Part One

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