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. The introduction of [baritone] sax and tenor sax adds something that some albums are sadly lacking. A jazz/blues swing album with a huge amount of master lyrics. This whole band ooze charisma. “Big Wind” features Margey Peters on vocals, and she also wrote the song. This is a marvelous tune that includes a wonderful piece of violin from Charlie Burnham. 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. Title-track, “The Music Gets Us Thru”, is a lively, get up and boogie tune. 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. “Grab My Car Keys” is another Margey Petes tune with her taking over the vocals again. Brad Vickers accompanies her with an exquisite bottleneck guitar solo that oozes over you like a warm blanket. 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 that will be new to most listeners, and will send them in search of the original sources more often than not. The core band includes Vickers (guitars/vocals), Margey Peters (bass/vocals), Bill Rankin (drums), and Jim Davis (clarinet/tenor sax), with a host of guest musicians (Chrlie Burnham – violin, Dave Gross – guitar, Mikey Junior – harmonica, Dave Keyes – piano/organ, Dean Shot – guitar, and V.D. King, who plays a truckload of instruments and co-produced with Vickers and Peters) joining in.
The Music Gets Us Thru (Man Hat Tone Records) is the band’s seventh CD and consists of a dozen songs, eight written by Vickers and/or Peters with four covers of songs by Jimmy Reed, Larry Darnell, Tampa Red (a prerequisite for any Vestapolitan album), and J.B. Lenoir. The original rockabilly-styled “Dumb Like A Fox” kicks off the disc, followed by a terrific cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Take It Slow,” featuring Mikey Junior on harp and Shot on guitar. Vickers’ ballad “Please Don’t Say” sounds like a long lost swamp pop classic, and Peters’ optimistic “Big Wind” has a wonderful old school feel with Burnham’s violin.
The Tampa Red cover is next….the upbeat “I’ll Never let you Go,” an entertaining track which features a clarinet solo from Davis, the rollicking title track has a real Chuck Berry feel thanks to Vickers’ guitar and Dave Keyes’ piano. Keyes also features prominently on Peters’ somber “Now It’s Time For Me To Sing The Blues,” playing piano and organ. “What In The World” is another vintage rocker with Davis’ tenor sax, while Vickers breaking out the slide for a couple of solos. Peters’ “Grab My Car Keys” is a solid traditional acoustic blues addressing the loss of a friend.
The last three tracks on the album are a cover Larry Darnell’s “I’ll Be Sittin,’ I’ll Be Rockin,’” a lively, swinging blues shuffle with accordion and sax, “Birds On My Family Tree,” Peters’ tribute to the late Annie Ross (with Vickers on bass and Gross on guitar, and Lenoir’s “When I Am Drinking,” a dynamite cover that features the core band.
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. Brad Vickers who learned his skills touring with Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Roscoe Gordon, Odetta, to name a few, is no novice. For his seventh album he is on guitar and shares vocals with bassist Margey Peters. Bill Rankin is on drums, Jim Davis plays clarinet and tenor saxophone. All four are the pillars of the Vestapolitans, and they are joined by many guests: Charles Burnham on violin, Dave Gross and Dean Shot on guitars, Mikey Junior on harmonica, Dave Keyes on organ and piano, and VD King on double bass, accordion and percussion. Let the music flow through you. 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. Here revealed by the rereading—as usual for several of their records—of a song by Tampa Red (I'll Never Let You Go), 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 , as required. An unusual wind section made up of a tenor sax and a baritone (no trumpets on the horizon!) 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
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
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
ROOTS AND ROLL TO THE MAX; Encapsulating the Entire Stars & Stripes with Taste, Touch and Passion
"He may have been round the block a time tor two, but the experiences banked playing with all sorts of legendary R&B musicians provides a brilliant platform for Brad Vickers and his band the mighty Vestapolitans on his latest album.
Where did that name come from I hear you ask, well it intrigued me too?I investigated and discovered that it is precisely spot on with the music that Brad and his band deliver on this album. It emanates from a music piece originating in the 19th. century entitled The Siege of Sevastopol, vitally played in open tuning. Over the years the name has been bastardised and re-invented many times. Even Bo Diddley stated that he first learned guitar in Vistabol tuning (preferring open E whilst using a capo to vary the key).
Brad’s Vestapolitans have a regular core, consisting of Margey Peters – bass & vocals, Jim Davis – sax, and Billy Rankin – drums, although they can be expanded with some top musical friends, from their base in New York, as is the case on this new release. Brad and Margey co-produced the album along with multi instrumentalist and multi talented VD King
This is not Blues for the sad, the lonely or the downhearted, no Sir! Give it one play and you’ll be stunned as to just how up-beat and enjoyable Brad and his band present their perspective on life.
Almost every point on the musical compass is covered, even adding fiddles and clarinets where appropriate, so not just Blues but some Western Swing, Cajun and Dixieland are all comfortably fused together to create an eminently joyous Saturday Night (even if it is really Tuesday) .
Two thirds of the 12 songs were written by either Brad or Margey with the remainder being covers of the well established past masters. The catchy foot-stomping “Dumb Like A Fox” gets the party swinging; followed by a marvellous tribute to Jimmy Reed with a fine rendition of his “Take It Slow” which includes solos from the additional guitar of Dean Shot; plus a real bonus of harmonica from renowned Mikey Junior.
Whilst “The Music gets Us Thru” and “What in the World” are written by Margey and Brad respectively, both songs take a decorous nod to Chuck Berry with a superb set of horns coming courtesy of Jim Davis on the latter number.
There are slower ballad types too, with the classic Crescent City sounding “Please Don’t Say”, Margey’s “Now It’s The Time For Me To Sing The Blues” (which has some terrific piano from Dave Keys), not forgetting her “Grab My Car Keys” that includes restrained but beautiful slide guitar from Brad himself. Written and sung by Margey “Big Wind” introduces a hybrid ragtime style that encompasses a touching and congenial violin solo from guest Charles Burnham.
Standout tracks for me were the lively cover of Larry Darnells’ “I’ll Be Sitting, I’ll Be Rockin’” presented in a Bob Wills fashion with brass and splendid accordion; then Margey’s “Birds On My Family Tree” another where Brad’s sweet guitar break compliments Jims sax solo.
However, it’s the two tracks where Brad and Margey duet on the vocals that really captured my full attention, and as I write I think that their cover of Tampa Red’s “I Will Never Let You Go” with the clarinet and VD Kings accordion [is] just about pipping, the honky tonk cover of JB Lenoir’s “When I’m Drinking” for the accolade of ‘Favourite Song’.
All in all, 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!
"Brad Vickers' roots are in Pine Barrens, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. As the descendant of a musical family, he grew up in a rural environment. His grandfather played lap steel and drums. As the bassist of Little Mike and the Tornadoes, he got the chance to work with some very renowned blues artists, and was able to learn first hand. Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef and Rosco Gordon are just a few of the artists he has played with over the years. Brad Vickers has even made studio recordings with some of them, such as with Pinetop Perkins, who invited him as bass player for the recordings of “Born in the Delta” (Telarc) and “Ladies’ Man”(MC Records). Both albums qualified for a Grammy nomination.
Since 2008 he has been playing with his own band, The Vestapolitans, with whom he has released six prior albums to date, “Le Blues Hot” (2008), “Stuck With The Blues” (2010), “Traveling Fool” (2011), “Great Day In The Morning” (2013), “That's What They Say” (2015), and “Twice As Nice” in 2019, all of which were released on the Man Hat Tone label. The name Vestapolitans comes from vestapol, which means open guitar tuning, and exactly fit his idea to find a good catchy band name that started with the letter V. Brad Vickers, who can call himself a New York Blues Hall of Fame Master Bluesman, is strongly influenced by blues, folk, rags and American Roots 'n Roll and he shows this on his seventh album “The Music Gets Us Thru”, which was again released on the Man Hat Tone Music label.
For the recordings he is supported by bassist and singer Margey Peters, drummer Bill Rankin, saxophonist Jim Davis, violinist Charlie Burnham, the guitarists Dave Gross and Dean Shot, singer and harmonica player Mikey Junior, keyboardist Dave Keyes, and the multi-instrumentalist and co producer of the project, VD King. As far as the line-up is concerned, nothing has changed since the previous album “Twice As Nice”. The new album kicks off with the fifties-style rocker ‘Dumb Like A Fox’, which is topped with a swampy sauce for which V.D. King’s accordion playing is responsible. Mikey Junior joins as harmonica player and vocalist on the Jimmy Reed shuffle “Take It Slow”. The fifties vibe is retained on the rhythm and blues song “Please Don’t Say”. Margey Peter’s' fragile voice stands out in “Big Wind” a wonderful swing song with a jazzy solo by Dave Gross, and with beautiful violin playing by Charlie Burnham. Hudson Whittaker, better known to us as Tampa Red, is honored with his song “I’ll Never Let You Go’. The rocker “The Music Gets Us Thru” is followed by the ballad “Now It's Time For Me To Sing The Blues”. For the rocker “What In The World” Brad Vickers slides around with the slide on his finger. And then it is used in a much more subdued way on the acoustically played “Grab My Car Keys”, about the loss of a loved one. This is all in contrast to the smooth and cheerful sounding “I’ll Be Sittin’, I'll Be Rockin’ ”. “Birds On My Family Tree” which again has beautiful solo playing by Dave Gross, and then comes the closing track “When I Am Drinking”.
“The Music Gets Us Thru” is a varied blues album with compact songs, traversing 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 AND ROOTS CORNER, Netherlands
"Brad Vickers and his band The Vestapolitans are fans of roots, blues, folk, rags and roots 'n' roll. While discussing his sixth album “Twice as Nice” (2019), I already wrote that "Vestapol" is a technical guitar term, which has absolutely nothing to do with that Italian style icon, the two-wheeled "Vespa" from Piaggio.
Vestapol is the way a guitar is tuned. The most common tuning for a six-string guitar is, from low to high, E-A-D-G-B-E. If we go back to 1800, history tells us that when the upper class youngsters learned “parlor guitar”, [it was] often through a popular instrumental work (referring to a town known from the Crimean War) “The Siege of Sevastopol". In this piece, sounds and sound effects have to be imitated. Around 1920 this work (it was then called "Sevastopol"), with the open tuning was extremely popular with musicians in all ranks. The name corrupted over the years to Vestopol, Vestapool, Vastopol, Bestapol and (from a statement from Bo Diddley, who said he learned guitar in) Vastabol tuning.
Brad Vickers is an American artist, a self-made man. He learned it all himself, touring and being in the studio with Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef, Rosco Gordon, Pinetop Perkins and others. Brad comes from a musical family. His grandfather played lap steel and drums. Vickers is the frontman/leader of The Vestapolitans. Together they were in the studio for the first time in 2008, recording “Le Blues Hot”.
Vickers' new album, recorded before the lockdown, has the telling title "The Music Gets Us Thru". He recorded with bassist Margey Peters, drummer Bill Rankin and saxophonist Jim Davis, the hard core of His Vestapolitans, and some musical friends: Charlie Burnham (violin), Dave Gross (guitar), Mikey Junior (harmonica, vocals), Dave Keyes (piano, organ), Dean Shott (guitar), and co-producer VD King on accordion.
Most of the tracks are original Vickers or Margey Peters songs. Four are covers. The opener "Dumb Like a Fox" is a new uptempo song from Vickers, followed by "Take It Slow", a favorite Jimmy Reed song with lovely harmonica by Mikey Junior. “Please Don't Say”, with dreamy sax work by Jim Davis and V.D. King shows Vickers' penchant for Cajun pop classics. Then, Margey, aided by Charlie Burnham on violin, injects the listener with the necessary optimism on her whimsical "Big Wind". An album by the Vestapolitans almost by definition has to have a song by Tampa Red. Here they choose Hudson Whittaker's swinging B-side from 1953, "I'll Never Let You Go". Margey's rocking title song "The Music Gets Us Thru" is proof that music heals and on "Now It's Time for Me to Sing the Blues", a song co-writtenn with Steve Tarshis, Margey sings that everyone should (sometimes) ante up. With “What in the World” the group, now with Vickers on slide guitar, pushes the tempo up again. “Grab My Car Keys” sounds old-fashioned and bluesy, and the Larry Darnell classic “I'll Be Sitting, I'll Be Rockin'”, featuring VD King on accordion, is simply a feel-good song. Margey winks at Annie Ross on "Birds on My Family Tree”, and the closing track that follows, "When I Am Drinking" is a great J.B. Lenoir number.
"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!
"This is the seventh release for Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans, a throwback sound as indicated by the 1950-ish red pickup truck on the CD cover. The core band includes Vickers on guitar, bottleneck guitar and vocals, bassist Margery Peters, drummer Bill Rankin, and clarinetist/tenor saxophonist Jim Davis. Most of the tunes were written by Vickers or Peters, with a few choice covers mixed in. In keeping with prior efforts, they invite several high-profile guests to join in the recording, which occurred prior to the pandemic shutdown. They include violinist Charles Burnham, guitarist Dave Gross, harmonicist/vocalist Mikey Junior, keyboardist Dave Keyes, guitarist Dean Shot, and the co-producer (along with Vickers and Peters) V.D. King on an array of instruments.
Most of the tunes are in the three-minute range with only one exceeding four minutes, in keeping with the vintage vibe. Vickers’ original “Dumb Like a Fox” is an up-tempo tune, with an interesting blend of Davis’ tenor, and King’s bari sax and accordion. Mikey Junior and Dean Shot climb aboard for the cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Take It Slow” with Mikey Junior and Peters sharing vocals with Vickers on the lone four-minute plus tune. “Please Don’t Say,” another Vickers original, pays tribute to swamp pop with King on piano and strong swaying sax from Davis (tenor) and King (baritone), a terrific dance number.
Peters’ “Big Wind” enlists Burnham on violin for an oh-so-sweet solo, Gross on guitar, and King on the upright bass for an uplifting tune that seems to come straight out of the 1930s while the core quartet nods to Tampa Red on “I’ll Never Let You Go,” with Davis continuing the vintage sound by playing clarinets, akin in effect to Burnham’s fiddle in the previous tune. The title track carries a Chuck Berry rock n’ roll sound with Dave Keyes playing Johnnie Johnson’s role on piano while Davis’s gutbucket tenor is straight out of early R&B. The Peters/Steve Tarshis co-written “Now It’s Time For Me to Sing the Blues” sees Keyes returning along with guitarist Gross for the only tune not featuring a horn, giving Keyes room to stretch out in a piano solo.
Vickers claims that “What in the World” lets him pay homage to Sacred Steel by playing his slide, but the essence of it echoes Fats Domino/Dave Bartholomew. Peters follows with the basic blues of “Grab My Car Keys” in an acoustic trio with the composer on slide bass, King on the upright, and Vickers on bottleneck guitar. The last sequence includes covers of “I’ll Be Sittin’, I’ll Be Rockin’” with that combination of Davis’ tenor and King’s accordion and “When I Am Drinking” from J.B. Lenoir, rendered by the core quartet. Sandwiched in between is Peters’ “Birds on My Family Tree,” an homage to the late Annie Ross.
While neither Vickers or Peters are the most distinctive voices in the genre, 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!
"Brad Vickers has toured and recorded with some of America’s legendary blues artists – people like Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, and Pinetop Perkins. He now plays with his own band, the Vestapolitans – strange name, but it’s derived from Bo Didley’s “Vastabol” open guitar tuning.
The Vestapolitans play more than guitar, though – you’ll hear harmonica, sax, accordion, clarinet and violin on this great set of blues-tinged rockers. Twelve songs, a mixture of mostly originals by Brad and Margey Peters and some covers of songs by Jimmy Reed, J B Lenoir and Leroy Kirkland.
It’s a great, big band sound with something of an old-timey vibe. The album kicks off with the toe tapping and amusing Dumb Like a Fox, with some great guitar – saxophone interplay. Although Big Wind take us back to the 1920s with a jazzy feel, helped on by some cool violin, for most of the rest of the album we’re in the 1950s – Please Don’t Say is a delightful slow rock and roll number, and the rest of the album has a more up-beat feel with songs like The Music Gets Us Thru and What in the World which urge you to get on your feet and dance.
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
"Brad Vickers hails from Pine Barrens, Long Island's Eest End near New York. He learned the craft through music making, touring and recording with Jimmy Rodgers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef, Rosco Gordon and Pinetop Perkins, with whom he recorded the two Grammy nominated albums “Born In The Delta” and “Ladies Man”.
When his mother gave him the instrumental album “Jimmy Reed Plays 12-String Guitar” for Christmas, his life would change forever. Vickers felt attracted to the blues sound quite early on. He is therefore grateful that his parents gave him the opportunity to discover so many different types of music. His father loved country, his mother listened to jazz. Tired of playing a worn-out guitar, Brad asked his father for a new one Christmas day, instead getting a bass. [Initially he was disappointed] However, after a performance with Chuck Berry, [on that instrument] Vickers has never been short of work. Early on he appeared on stage as bass guitarist with Lightnin' Hopkins, and played with the Chicago [style] blues band Little Mike and The Tornadoes in the mid-1980s.
Vickers left Mike's band in the mid-1990s with the idea of doing his own thing. He met Margey Peters, who became his musical partner and with whom he sometimes writes songs. He eventually formed the Vestapolitans. Hubert Sumlin was Brad's greatest mentor, Pinetop Perkins his musical godfather.
When Brad Vickers was looking for a "V" based name for his band, he chose The Vestapolitans. And there's an argued reason for that, going back to the 19th century when youngsters played "parlor guitar". [There was a popular instrumental, “The Siege of Sevastapol”] that had a "character" or stage bravado part. And this section was meant to emulate sound effects like a bugle and exciting battle sounds. These kinds of pieces were mainly taught to advanced students for recitals. More importantly, it was played in "open" tuning. By the 1920s the 'Sevastopol' tuning became very popular with musicians from all walks of life and as the years went on the name was bent into all sorts of forms, Vestopol, Vestapool, Vastopol and Bestapol. Bo Diddley even said he first learned to play guitar in "Vastabol" tuning. He too preferred open E and would use a capo to vary the key. Vestapol thus refers to the chord tuning - the relationship between the open strings - not necessarily to the key. So much for the reference to His Vestapolitans.
Now Brad has re-entered the studio with Margey Peters (bass, vocals), drummer Bill Rankin, Jim Davis (tenor sax), V.D. King (baritone sax and accordion), guest guitarists Dave Gross and Dean Shot and pianist Dave Keyes. 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!
"It was by recording and touring with the likes of Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Rogers and Odetta that Brad Vickers forged a real bluesman pedigree, and it is no accident that he took part in two Grammy-nominated Pinetop Perkins albums, "Born In The Delta" and "Ladies Man", and Pinetop Perkins & Jimmy Rogers' album "Genuine Blues Legends", nominated for a 2017 Blues Music Award. Today, as the head of his own group, the Vestapolitans, 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. [He is] Accompanied by Margey Peters on bass and vocals, Bill Rankin on drums, and Jim Davis on clarinet and tenor sax but also on this occasion Dave Gross and Dean Shot on guitars, Dave Keyes on piano [and organ], Mikey Junior on harmonica and vocals, Charlie Burnham on violin, and VD King on all kinds of instruments. 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
“Behold, the 7th album from Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans. Recorded before the lockdown, “The Music Gets Us Thru” is a rather prophetic title. 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. As Melanie Young says in Living Blues,…“brimming with carefree cool.”
“The Music Gets Us Thru”, as with the other Brad Vickers albums I have reviewed, takes us back to a simpler, more elegant and joyful time. In the late 50’s I was still being potty trained but thanks to records, movies, and TV shows like Happy Days we have an idea at least of the spirit of those times. 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. Anything else would be creative suicide.
“The Music Gets Us Thru” is a balance of covers by great artists like Tampa Red and JB Lenoir with originals penned by Brad Vickers and bassist/singer Margey Peters. “What would a Vestapolitans recording be without a Tampa Red song?” Brad asks, mentioning that they celebrate him with a sweet version of “I’ll Never Let You Go”. Margey’s rockin’ tune that gave this album its title is about how music helps us to keep on pushing, her “Grab My Car Keys” is a simple blues about loss, and Brad’s own "What In The World” gives him a chance to “take out (his) slide and pay homage to the Sacred Steel Sound.”
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. “Brimming with carefree cool” indeed.”
KEY CUTS: “Dumb Like A Fox”, “Now’s The Time For Me To Sing The Blues”, “What In The World”
—John Kereiff, The Rock Doctor, GO, GONZO OKANAGAN, -Canada
A FUN NIGHT OUT!
"Brad Vickers learned while playing, touring and recording with America's blues and roots masters: Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef, Rosco Gordon and Pinetop Perkins - with whom Brad was lucky enough to play on the Grammy-nominated discs, "Born in the Delta" (Telarc) and "Ladies' Man" (MC) - just to name a few. Now his own group, The Vestapolitans, offers a good mix of originals and covers of blues, ragtime, Hill Country Blues and more great American roots 'n' roll. The albums "That's What They Say" (2015), joins "Great Day In The Morning" (2013), "Traveling Fool" (2011), "Stuck With The Blues" (2010) and "Le Blues Hot" ( 2008). They have all received great reviews, and have been heard playing on over 250 stations. Best of all, the crowd loves it!
From the ‘Big Apple' Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans have been around for a while and played with Pinetop Perkins among others.Rarely have I heard such 'laidback' playing that sounds so natural that it’s a pleasure is to listen to. Brad got his inspiration from almost all blues greats, although Jimmy Reed is one of his most important examples. Paul Oscher’s band and also a Jeff Zima’s left the same impression on me. Brad's music sounds about the same as these two mentioned gentlemen. What's the best way to listen to this? Just get together with some friends and 'on the Sunny side' of the street just do nothing and listen, you don't even have to talk to each other—just enjoy.
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 Ceis, ROOTSVILLE, Belgium
THIS ALBUM IS A MUST HAVE
"Brad Vickers is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter from Pine Barrens, Suffolck County, Long Island, NY. He comes from a musical family. In his early years, Brad Vickers was bassist with Little Mike And The Tornadoes. In that capacity he was allowed to share the stage with many famous American blues and roots masters. He played with Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef, Rosco Gordon and Pinetop Perkins. Brad appeared on 'Born In The Delta' and 'Ladies Man', two Grammy nominated albums by Pinetop Perkins. Brad has had his own band since 2008. He has already released six albums with his Vestapolitans. 'Le Blues Hot' from 2008 was his debut album, followed by 'Stuck With The Blues' from 2010, 'Traveling Fool' from 2011, 'Great Day In The Morning' from 2013, 'That What They Say' from 2015 and the 'Twice As Nice' was published on October 10, 2019. The album has a good mix of original songs written by Brad Vickers or bassist Margey Peters and covers. With their music, Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans take us back to the sixties or earlier, for a good portion of what they call blues, folk, jump and American roots 'n' roll. They also stay true to this music in their new album 'The Music Gets Us Thru'. There are twelve songs on the album. Most of the songs were written by frontman Brad Vickers and by frontwoman and bassist Margey Peters, although there are also a few covers on 'The Music Gets Us Thru'.
The fifties are revived in the swinging rocker 'Dumb Like A Fox', a song written by Brad Vickers. v.d. King is expressly and excellently present on his accordion throughout the song, giving the song a Zydeco atmosphere. Drummer Bill Rankin and bassist Margey Peters provide a wonderfully swinging groove and saxophonists Jim Davis and V.D. King blow the right dose of soul into the song. The first cover on the album comes from Jimmy Reed with the blues shuffle 'Take It Slow'. Harmonica player Mikey Junior takes the spotlight with two beautiful solos. Twice Brad Vickers cleverly takes over on his guitar. 'Please Don't Say' is a melodic and compelling slow song that could have come straight out of The Sixties. Brad Vickers wrote the song as a tribute to all the Cajun pop classics. The wonderful saxophones of Jim Davis and V.D. King give this 'Please Don't Say' even more cachet. The languid swinging 'Big Wind' was written by Margey Peters and she also sings the song. v.d. King provides the beating heart of the song on the uptight bass. It's a mix of jazz and bluegrass. Charlie Burham knows how to weave his beautiful violin sounds through the melody of 'Big Wind' in a beautiful way and Dave Gross shines on the guitar.
Most music lovers know that Brad Vickers is a big fan of Hudson Whittaker aka Tampa Red. There is a Tampa Red cover on almost every Brad Vickers album. This time he chose the swinging ''I'll Never Let You Go'', with an excellent Jim Davis on clarinet. It is a song that immediately makes you happy. It remains very danceable in the title track 'The Music Get Us Thru' written by Margey Peters. Dave Keyes on piano helps determine the melody and with a honky tonk piano solo he puts the icing on his instrumental performance. Jim Davis is blasting his lungs out on his saxophone. The piano and organ driven ballad 'Now It's Time For Me To Sing The Blues' is sung with great feeling and conviction by the warm and full voice of Margey Peters. The rhythm rises again with the flowing rocker 'What In The World', in which a beautiful Brad Vickers takes care of the slide guitar in addition to the guitar. The saxophones are also explicitly present in this swinging song. Margey Peters wrote the acoustic Delta blues song 'Grab My Car Keys'. Instrumentally we only hear Margey on slide bass, V.D. King on upright bass and percussion and Brad Vickers on the bottleneck guitar.
The Larry Darnell cover 'I'll Be Sittin', I'll Be Rockin'' is a cheerful and festive cover, for which Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans went back to 1953. The accordion of V.D. King reinforces the cheerful feeling even more and Jim Davis colors the song with a more than excellent solo on the saxophone. With 'Birds On My Family' Margey Peters winks at Annie Ross. Dave Gross once again shows his class with a beautiful guitar solo and Jim Davis does the same on the saxophone. The album ends with a handsome version of the J.B. Lenoir classic 'When I Am drinking'. '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. Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans recorded the album in memory of those we lost during and through Corona, in honor of the frontline and essential workers and in thanks for all the great music that got us through it. (7.5/10)"
—Walter VanHeuckelom CONCERT MONKEY, Belgium
NEVER STOPS ENTERTAINING
"On this seventh CD, guitarist Brad Vickers again mixes his own strong originals and those of bassist Margery Peters with covers, this time from the likes of J.B. Lenoir (“When I Am Drinking”), Tampa Red (“I’ll Never Let You Go”), and Jimmy Reed (“Take It Slow”). The band—which also features a drummer and a saxophonist—is joined by assorted guests on violin, piano, organ, accordion, and other instruments. 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, USPLEASING AND AMAZING FROM START TO FINISH!
TRUE TO THEIR ROOTS...A FUN SET OF TUNES
"Brad Vickers has a career that goes back to being part of the bands with Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta Sleepy LaBeef, and Rosco Gordon. He’s got a new old time sound, blending the sounds from days of yore with new songs and interesting covers. It’s always interesting to see and hear what he’s up to.
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. Guests on each cut are noted below. 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.
“Dumb Like A Fox” gets the set of tunes started. The core group of Vestapolitans deliver a romping and bouncing cut in rockabilly style. Guitar and saxes blare and Brad fronts the band nicely. Jimmy Reed’s “Take It Slow” adds Mikey Junior on harp and Dean Shot on guitar, who both solo. It’s a good cover and the added musicians help deliver a really good rendition of Reed’s song. “Please Don’t Say” follows, hearkening back to the sounds of the ‘50’s. It’s a slow tune that you could imagine kids back then would have been slow dancing to and grinding it out on the gym floor together. Davis delivers a a dirty and cool tenor sax solo on this one. Next is “Big Wind;” Peters fronts the band and Charlie Burnham adds his fiddle for an old time sound, a trademark of the band. The second cover is “I’ll Never Let You Go,” an old Tampa Red piece. Davis gets out his licorice stick and enhances that klezmer/old time feeling. Vickers delivers the vocals well and picks out some nice stuff on guitar as Peters backs him on vocals. Next is a boogey woogie rock and roll cut “The Music Gets Us Thru,” a nice, swinging cut. Dave Keyes on piano adds to the fun as Vickers nails the Chuck Berry-esque licks. Piano and sax solos make the listener want to get up and dance.
Keyes returns for “Now It’s Time For Me To Sing The Blues” as Peters fronts the band again. This one’s a sad song as Peters drowns her sorrows in the blues. Keyes adds both piano and organ to help build the somber feeling. The pace picks up with “What In The World,” another swinging and jumping tune with a boogey woogie beat. Peters returns with “Grab My Car Keys” as Vickers breaks out the bottle neck guitar. It’s a stripped down trio here with Peters on slide bass and King on upright bass. “I’ll Be Sittin’, I’ll Be Rockin’” is up next; this one is an old Larry Darnell cut. The feeling here is updated from the original with a more stripped down sound. King on accordion is an interesting touch. Davis on sax does a fine job. The pacing is a big labored; the tempo is a little slow but the playing is cool. It’s a Vestapolitanized version. Peters does “Birds On My Family Tree,” another slow and old styled cut. Dave Gross does a nice job adds his guitar here as Vickers picks up the bass. Gross’ solo is sweet and Davis on sax remains steady with his and his backing. “When I Am Drinking” concludes the set, an old J.B, Lenoir song. Vickers and Peters share the lead vocals as they lay out a groove on guitar and bass. Davis’ sax is right up front here as the band takes this a bit more mid tempo than the original and give it their own sound.
Dedicated to the frontline workers who persevered throughout the pandemic. Recorded pre-Covid, the band released the album now, their seventh effort. Brad and Peters have developed a unique sound and a core audience of Vestapolitans fans. Mixing old time sounds that hearken back to days gone by, Brad and the band remain true to their roots and deliver a fun set of tunes."
—Steve Jones BLUES BLAST MAGAZINE, US
THE BLUES IN ALL ITS RICHNESS AND BRILLIANCE
"Just today, Sept. 7 2021, ManHattone releases Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans' seventh album, "The Music Get us Thru," being radio-promoted worldwide by Frank Roszak, California's FRP. Ever since I first became acquainted with Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans’ first album, about fifteen years ago, my story has not stopped, because to this day I constantly follow the work and activities of this deeply “roots"-oriented band.
What is extremely important about Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans’ work is the undeniable fact that through their entire body of work one feels a constant promotion of the value of traditional blues. If we go even deeper and further, we will see that this value is not measurable by those methods known to us, but has proved to be true many times so far. The specificity of the performance, the vocal interpretation, and if you really want, the musical form itself is completely different from everything one usually finds. Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are amazing masters and connoisseurs in just that. And therefore they offer up “The Music Gets Us Thru”. For me personally, an especially great song is "What In The World,” where Brad on slide guitar pays unequivocal homage to the so-called "Sacred Steel sound". In the end, it's a new musical story that Brad managed to record with a great team before the lockdown.
Of course, Brad was accompanied by bassist Margey Peters, drummer Bill Rankin and saxophonist Jim Davis. Along with his friends, guests: Charlie Burnham (violin), Dave Gross (guitar), Mikey Junior (harp and vocals), Dave Keyes (piano and organ), Dean Shot (guitar), and their co-producer, VD King on various instruments, including the accordion. This team recorded an album which, of course, is not intended for the wider musical audience, but for fans of blues, this difficult and, many will say. monotonous style. This blues story requires a certain maturity, savvy and a pronounced fondness for this style.
Blues, cajun, folk, jump, and "great American roots 'n' roll" are the spheres of interest for Brad and his team, and the song list is a combination of all the above. The music on the album consists of original songs by Brad and Margey and several great covers: for example, Jimmy Reed's “Take It Slow”, the inevitable Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) and his “I'll Never Let You Go”, Larry Darnells’ “I'll Be Sittin’, I'll Be Rockin’ “, and “When I Am Drinking” by the great bluesman JB Lenoir. “Birds On My Family Tree”was written by Margey, inspired by the work of Annie Ross. Such pronounced, great songs with a truly superb performance by the assembled team results in another amazing album bursting with traditional blues.
This whole new musical story of theirs is somehow deepened by Margey’s title track “The Music Gets Us Thru” in which their message is simply to show how music helps us move on no matter what. There’s also the inspiring “Now it’s Time For Me To Sing The Blues,” written by Margey with the late Steve Tarshis. Here the band actually discovers and sends an unequivocal message that we simply have no choice, and that we must move forward, and Brad Vickers ultimately saying, “Making this CD was big fun. We hope you enjoy it, too!” Ultimately if this were not so nothing would be right.
On the album we have twelve songs that we can freely classify as so-called "front porch blues". Brad Vickers and His Vestapolitans, reinforced with associated musicians, present this demanding blues expression with extraordinary and surprising ease, and they really seem to enjoy it. Personally, I hope that all of you who listen to this album will also find a lot of reasons to enjoy its content. Each song is better than last. A pure ten!
RECOMMENDATION: 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.
Mostly comprised of originals by Vickers and Peters, the album also features a Jimmy Reed and a Tampa Red cover. 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.
Where Vickers excels is in his arrangements and songwriting. On "Take It Slow", throughout the usual 12-bar shuffle pattern, Vickers throws in a universal band lick reminiscent of the blues classic, "You Don't Love Me." This added flavor distances the track from becoming a regular blues band shuffle. Shot's flickers on the guitar shine through with some added originality to the track. Per usual, any track touched by Shot recalls tow words, ingenuity and authenticity. With the help of a genuine harp solo [by Mikey Junior}, the track comes to life.
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, and without any end in sight. The lyrics confirm any suspicious of such a notion, 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