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
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
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, US
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