Nice Words for "Twice As Nice"!


Brad Vickers has been in the blues circuit for many years. Brad, who lives in New York, has played with Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Chuck Berry, Odetta and many others. And the influences of these greats can be clearly heard in his music. With his band The Vestapolitans, he offers a cheerful mix of blues, ragtime and rock and roll.
    His sixth CD "Twice As Nice" contains eleven songs, seven of which were written by himself or Margey Peters. Margey plays bass in the band and can also be heard as a singer. The other four songs are covers from Maceo Merriweather, Jimmy Reed, Will Shade and Tampa Red. The CD starts nicely with a slow version of Big Maceo's "Worried Life Blues", followed by the up-tempo "Mississippi Swamp". That immediately gives an impression of the variation that we encounter on the CD. Smooth songs, interspersed with calm ballads, ragtime with jazz, down-home blues with soul. Songs that deserve special mention are the "Twice Is Nice" sung by Margey Peters with a nice bottleck guitar by Vickers and the clarinet played by Jim Davis, the blues shuffle "Everything I Need" and the modest "Red Dust", an ode to the Native Americans.
In short, "Twice As Nice" has become a very beautiful album with authentic blues. An absolute must.
—Eric Campfens, BARN OWL BLUES, Netherlands

"Singer and guitarist, Brad Vickers earned his bluesman stripes by playing and recording with such acclaimed artists as Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, and was credited on such major albums as "Born In The Delta” and “Pinetop Perkins & Jimmy Rogers, Genuine Blues Legends", which earned him Grammy and Blues Music Awards nominations. Today as the head of his own group, the Vestapolitans,  he is joined here by Charlie Burnham on violin, Jim Davis on clarinet and saxophone, Dave Gross and Dean Shot on guitars, Mikey Junior on vocals, Dave Keyes on keyboards, Margey Peters on bass, Bill Rankin on drums and finally VD King on various instruments, Brad Vickers returns with a new album in which he gives free rein to his passion for blues, rag, rock; more broadly roots'n'roll. The space of three quarters of an hour is filled with good vibrations. "Twice As Nice" reminds us how much Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are artists who love American music in all its forms, and who never miss the slightest opportunity to showcase it with strength and respect. Through [their own] lesser-known compositions as "Mississippi Swamp", "Coast To Coast", "Red Dust" and "Brooklyn Evenings," but also on a few borrowed from Big Maceo Merriweather ("Worried Life Blues "), Jimmy Reed ("Close Together "), Tampa Red ("Look A There Look A There") and Will Shade ("Stealin 'Stealin' "). Refreshing on the most energetic titles, arresting on the slowest blues, the album turns out to be a veritable whirlpool in which one will much appreciate the slide [guitar] parts, which are always very well-dosed by the flights of horns, which never miss an opportunity to fly. Let the party begin!" 
—Fred Delforge ZICAZINE, France

"With a CV as authentic as a Paul Butterfield or a Corky Siegel (and I'm comparing this guitar man to harmonica players because...?) this white boy with the blues wants you to party whether you call it roots 'n' roll, West Side Chicago, or whatever. Since we're so deep in the mash-up era, I don't think anyone knows the difference between Piedmont and Central Avenue anymore, so when cats like this jam them together, all you can do is let the good times roll. A real player that isn't playing around, this is just a solidly right-on set that delivers throughout. Hot stuff."

"My first introduction to "Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans" must have been with the album "Le Blues Hot", about 11 years ago. Brad Vickers has been playing for a while now, and once played with Pinetop Perkins. Rarely have I heard anything that is so "laidback", and so natural sounding that it makes Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans a pleasure to listen to. Brad was inspired by almost all the blues greats, although Jimmy Reed is one of is major examples. What is the best way to listen to Brad Vickers? Just come together with some friends and do nothing on the Sunny Side of the Street, and listen. You don't even have to talk to each other, just enjoy yourself. On "Twice As Nice" we find 11 track, and they open with the Chicago shuffle "Worried Like Blues", a blues standard that was recorded in 1941 by Big Maceo Merriweather. Ragtime and country lbues sometime go hand-in-hand with Brad, and you find this with the original "Mississippi Swamp". Bass player and vocalist Margey Peters wrote the next song, "Love Can Win". Margey is an important source of songs on this album. "Coast To Coast", The title track, a jazzy blues called "Twice As Nice", "Everything I Need", and the concluding number, "Brooklyn Evenings" are also from her hand. With Jimmy Reed as an example, a song of his cannot be missed, so Brad & His Vestapoitans bring "Close Together" in true Reed style. Blues, nothing but wonderful listening blues, and so is the closing NOLA blues, "Brooklyn Evenings".
—Freddy Celis, ROOTSVILLE, Belgium

Brad Vickers' new record, with Margey Peters and lots of wonderful guests is called "Twice as Nice" but honestly... it's like "11 times as nice" because all 11 tracks are fantastic, soooo tasteful in everyway. Beautifully produced with the perfect mix of instrumentation. I just LOVE this record and it's been a constant to listen to since I received it. Vickers and his Vestapolitans have a really cool sound and vibe and great song writing - alongside standards like "Stealin' Stealin'" ... My favorite of the originals is "Love can Win"... it's really a record full of deep cuts.
—Ilana Katz Katz

Brad Vickers’ roots are in the Pine Barrens, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. As a descendant of a musical family, he grew up in a rural environment. His grandfather played lap steel and drums. As bass player for Little Mike and the Tornadoes, he had the opportunity to work with a number of highly renowned blues artists, to learn firsthand. Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Rosco Gordon. These, Odetta, and Sleepy LaBeef are just a small selection of the artists he has been able to provide with bass. Brad Vickers has even made studio recordings with a number of them, such as Pinetop Perkins, who asked him to play on "Born In The Delta" (Telarc) and "Ladies Man" (MC Records), both albums earning grammy nominations. Since 2008 he has been playing with his own band, The Vestapolitans, with which he had released five previous albums, "Le Blues Hot" (2008), "Stuck With The Blues" (2010), "Traveling Fool" (2011), "Great Day In The Morning” 2013) and "That's What They Say" (2015) all on the Man Hat Tone Music label.
The name Vestapolitans comes from vestapol, which means open guitar tuning and fit exactly when he was trying to think  of a good catchy band name that starts with the letter V. Brad Vickers, who  has been inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame as a Master Bluesman, has been strongly influenced by blues, folk, rags and American roots ‘n’ roll. This is reflected in his most recent album 'Twice As Nice', which again has been released on the Man Hat Tone label. On the recording he is supported by bass player Margey Peters, drummer Bill Rankin, and saxophonist Jim Davis, along with violinist Charlie Burnham, guitarists Dave Gross and Dean Shot, singer and harmonica player Mikey Junior, keyboard player Dave Keyes and the multi-instrumentalist VD King, also co-producer of the project.
Brad Vickers kicks the album off with the lazy, authentic double shuffle “Worried Life Blues” by Big Maceo Merriweather, and then boosts the pace considerably in his own “Mississippi Swamp” with drumming, drumming, pulsating harp playing by Mikey Junior, and his own atmospheric slide playing. Funky tones are reflected in “Love Can Win,” written by Margey Peters, on which VD King and Jim Davis  provide an extra funky atmosphere with their saxophone riffs.. With only brief reference, Jimmy Reed’s “Close Together” is completely a customized arrangement. Jim Davis provides the necessary blue note with his atmospheric saxophone playing. The rocking shuffle “Coast To Coast” has strong similarities to “Route 66,” and makes for a more uptempo piece on the album. In addition to the bass parts, Margey Peters can be found on vocals on the title track, “Twice As Nice,” which she wrote. The band manages to create a beautiful 1920s/1930s atmosphere here with acoustic instruments, and of Jim Davis’ clarinet work plays a very decisive role. Margey's fragile voice fits perfectly with this style of playing, something she repeats on the “Stealin "Stealin" rag, and the concluding “Brooklyn Evenings”—which sounds almost jazzy. In between, the band gives us two more shuffles, “Eveything I Need,” and “Look A There, Look A There,” each with its own tempo; and the spare, acoustically played “Red Dust,” which features a threatening undertone of bass and drums, around which Brad Vickers rolls out his slide parts.
"Twice As Nice" is a fully relaxed and authentic blues album with small side trips into rag and jazz. No guitar shredding here, just musicians who play the at the service of the songs and perform them in a very tasteful way. In short a great album!
—Martin Van de Velde, BLUES MAGAZINE, Netherlands

I've always enjoyed the music of Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans, and this sixth album is no exception.
Is he rewriting the rule book of the blues and demolishing boundaries? Thankfully, no. What he does is stick to the roots of the blues across a set of originals and covers which could have sat happily anytime between the 1940s and the present day.

It's mainly originals, although he dips into the Big Maceo and Jimmy Reed songbooks, amongst others, and it all sits together in the manner of a good night down at the juke joint.

I'm particularly fond of the songs where the unfortunately named V D King whips out his baritone sax, do "Love Can Win", "Close Together", and "Everything I Need" score highly. Best of all is their take on the Tampa Red tune, "Look A There, Look A There", which is just a joy!

Brad Vickers and the Vestapolitans are champions of an old time music sound. Ragtime, hill country, and all sorts of other roots influences are mixed together with a singing style that matches the music. The Vestapolitans are Brad Vickers on vocals and guitar/bottleneck guitar, Jim Davis on clarinet and tenor sax, Margey Peters on bass and vocals, and Bill Rankin on drums. Special guests abound with Charlie Burnham on violin, Dave Gross on guitar, Mikey Junior on vocals and harp, Dave Keyes on keys, V.D. King on sax, guitar, upright bass, banjoele, percussion, keys, and vox, and Dean Shot on guitar.

Things open with “Worried Life Blues,” the Big Maceo tune that Chuck Berry rocked to. Brad and Company slow things down and give it the down home treatment. Nice guitar by Dean Shot here, sax and piano solos are also featured. “Mississippi Swamp” seems to me to be a remake of “Rolling and Tumbling” with Vickers on bottleneck guitar and Mikey Junior blowing some mean harp. “Love Can Win” features bass player Margey Peters on lead vocals, on a slow to mid tempo blues. Brad and Margey share the vocals on a slow and interesting Jimmy Reed cover, “Close Together” which gets turned into a Vestapolitan-styled blues. Things pick up with “Coast To Coast,” a driving tune with Dave Keys leading the assault on piano and V.D. King on baritone sax. Peters wrote the tune and Vickers fronts the band here as he rocks and rolls and swings on guitar. Peters also wrote the title track, which she sings in an old-time style as Jim Davis lays out some slick licorice stick and tenor work and Vickers again excels on the bottleneck guitar.

“Red Dust” features both Brad and Margey on vocals along with Mikey Junior. Vickers slides nicely and King pounds out the percussion in a Native American Indian lament that is both interesting and thoughtful. “Everything I Need” pays tribute to Jimmy Reed again, this time in a great-sounding Chicago shuffle. Will Shades’ jug band song “Stealin’ Stealin’” gets Vestapolitanized with Margey fronting the band and Mikey in support, an old-time sound with a fun pacing. Tampa Red’s “Look A There Look A There” features Shot on guitar again and Mikey laying out some mean harp. Davis on tenor and King on baritone sax blend sweetly, too. Dave Gross joins the fray for the final tune “Brooklyn Evenings.” The guitar is sublime and the song hearkens back to a time before all of us were born.

Vestapolitan fans will clamor for this one. If you are not familiar with Vickers and his band and their style, this will give you a full taste of the sort of things they do. Featuring a great group of regular and visiting musicians, you’ll get a good sampling of their stuff and how they mix music and a little humor to practice their craft. —Steve Jones, BLUES BLAST 

This cohort of New Yorkers continue in the vein established over their first five releases: a full band, playing predominantly acoustically; a broadminded attitude toward styles, with a prewar blues and jazz feel often informing the music due only in part to the presence of staple jug and string infuences.

“The siixth album form the New York outfit—and guests—fits right in with its predecessors. Like them, this consists of blues all the way, from the vintage, but slightly updated sound of The Memphis Jug Band’s “Stealin’ Stealin’ ”, with baritone sax replacing the jug, and the vaudeville blues of the title track, an original by bassist and singer Margey Peters, though I wouldn’t have guessed, to the Chuck Berry-styled “Coast To Coast”—that’s about as modern as these guys ever get. 

Tampa Red is another big influence, particularly on leader Brad, as is Jimmy Reed, and both provide one (lesser-known) song each here. “Red Dust” is the experimental number on this release, inspired by Native American music, but with blues instrumentation—it works, too. Another winner from these guys.
—Norman Darwen, BLUES & RHYTHM, UK

Guitarist/singer/composer Brad Vickers has played with numerous legends, including Jimmy Rogers,  Chuck Berry, Rosco Gordon, and Pinetop (on two of his Grammy-nominated sets), as well as many others.  He’s found the time to put together a fantastic backing band, The Vestapolitans, and they have just released their sixth overall album, this one entitled “Twice As Nice,” for Man Hat Tone Music.  It is a sweet collection of originals and covers that keeps alive Brad’s musical vision of spreading excellent blues and roots music to the masses.

When we were teenagers, Chuck Berry recorded a version of Big Maceo Merriweather’s iconic “Worried Life Blues,” and Brad leads off the set with a version full of sweet guitar work that captures the spirit of the St. Louis master, with sax from Jim Davis and piano from Dave Keyes.  Brad’s original, “Mississippi Swamp,” is a fine country-blues, including a talking bullfrog and Mikey Junior on the harp.  The Delta-fied acoustic blues continues with one of our favorites, “Red Dust,” bemoaning the fate of the American Indian. “Coast To Coast” is another stone rocker that takes the listener on the ultimate road trip in my jitney, from sea to sea!”

We had two favorites.  Brad and bassist/duet partner Margey Peters lay down a sweet tribute to Jimmy Reed with the gentle lope of “Close Together,” while Margey offers up an original tune that promises hope for a troubled society if we can aim for “patience, understanding, compassion, and respect,” the topical, spot-on, “Love Can Win.”

Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans continue to mesh vintage blues sounds with rock, jump, and roots music to create their own groove that’s as cool as the other side of the pillow!  Dig “Twice As Nice” for some real good-time blues!!!  Until next time…
Don and Sheryl Crow, DON & SHERYL's BLUES BLOG

"The music of Brad Vickers & His Vestapoitans; whether blues, ragtime, or vintage rock 'n' roll, is steeped in traditions that go back to a time before the history of music being set to paper. It's a style that he refers to as "Roots 'n' Roll." The days when he would emulate the old masters is long past. This is not what he does; it's who and what he is. Over the years he has performed with numerous legendary artists including Chuck Berry, Lightnin' Hopkins, Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perhins, Hubert Sumlin, and many others. He was adopted into the family...actually being referred to by Pinetop at his godson. There is no greater recommendation or show of affection. On Twice As Nice Vickers brings his signature sound to tunes that range from blues to rock 'n' roll and beyond. Along with the "usual suspects" (Margey Peters, bass & vocal, Jim Davis: sax & clarinet, and Bill Rankin: drums) he is joined by Mikey Junior on harp & vocal, Dave Keyes on piano, Dave Gross [and Dean Shot] on guitar, and V.D. King on a wide assortment of instruments. Well-crafted original tunes and covers composed by Maceo Merriweather, Jimmy Reed, Will Shade and Tampa Red make for an album that is, at the very least, a lot of fun. Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are always delightful, and Twice As Nice is no exception. I put this one in a player along with Tampa Red and the Memphis Jug Band. While I preferred the older material, Brad Vickers and his crew did hold up. This is old-time music at its best."

"While the album cover won't ever win any awards, it caught my eye on a busy day, and when I slid it in the office CD player [I] crossed my fingers hoping the music would live up to the Hot Rod billing.
Well, if I had a car like either pictured, I'm damn sure I would have this disc welded into the hi-fi!
While obviously tipping his hat in admiration of loads of R&B and Southern Country acts over the years; I can't think of anyone in particular who has a groove like these cats.

The opening track finds Brad slowing down Big Maceo's “Worried Life Blues” to a stumble and a stroll; whereas the version I know by Chuck Berry is more of a strut; but twinkle in the eye is certainly still there.
Things hot up next on Mississippi Swamp, which is a jumpin' and Jivin' Blues that really plays on Vickers' vocal styling and choppy guitar, and you will find your heart racing in time with the bass,On “Coast to Coast” there's another hint of Chuck Berry in the guitar intro, but it’s the horn section, the piano, and Brad's distinctive voice that make it the type of song where you have one arm out the car window, the other on the steering wheel and your 'best gal' is snuggled up for a drive somewhere ..... anywhere.

While Brad Vickers takes top billing, bass player, associate producer, Margey Peters gets her moment in the spotlight too; and when she does, my knees go all wobbly! She goes all risqué on the title track, “Twice as Nice”, but rips your heart out with her smoky voice on “Love Can Win”, and she winds down the Honky Tonk on the slinky album closer “Brooklyn Evenings”. Plus, she wrote another humdinger that Vickers gets to wrap his larynx around; “Everything I Need,” being one of those R&B stompers that features some stiletto style guitar picking in the middle and close.

While I recognise a couple of other songwriter's names; I don't think I've heard Jimmy Reed's “Close Together” before; but if I have, it certainly didn't sound anything like this dark lament.It's a similar feeling with Tampa Red's “Look a There, Look a There”; which gets a hip and shiny Jumpin' Jive makeover here that will make even a man with a wooden leg want to dance.

For a fun and even sassy album, I'm going left of centre for my Favourite Track; as “Red Dust” arrives with no introduction and made me sit and stare at the speakers the first time I heard it. Why? You may ask. Well, this song is beautifully constructed ode to Native Americans that combines a traditional drum beat with some stinging Bottleneck guitar as Brad Vickers wrings the last drop of pathos out of this dark tale, then squeezes again. 10/10.
Perhaps if I have one criticism, this particular song could and should have ended the cycle; but being where it certainly had a profound effect on this chap.

Yet again I've unearthed a big ole unit of a R&B Band that will undoubtedly never visit my part of the Universe; yet they sound like the best night I'll never have!

Brad Vickers is from Pine Barrens, at the East end of Long Island, New York. He learned the craft by making music and touring and had recordings with Jimmy Rodgers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef, Rosco Gordon, and Pinetop Perkins, with whom he has two Grammy-nominated albums ('Born In The Delta' and 'Ladies Man'). His previous album, "That's What They Say" dates back to 2015.

When Brad Vickers was looking for a "V" name for his group, he chose The Vestapolitans. And there is good reason for that. Back to the 19th century when young people played a "parlor guitar". There was a song known as “The Battle of Sebastapol”, and example of an instrumental form known as a "character" which had a stage bravado component, with sections meant to emulate sound effects, just like a bugle, or exciting battle sounds. These kinds of pieces were taught to advanced students for recitals. More importantly, they were played in "open" tunings. This enthusiastic mood circulated among artists almost immediately. And although the piece itself did not become a standard, there must have been enough versions to put the name into circulation. By the 1920s, the 'Sevastopol' tuning became very popular with musicians from all walks of life and as the years progressed the name became curved in all sorts of forms: Vestopol, Vestapool, Vastopol and Bestapol. Bo Diddley even said that he learned to play the guitar for the first time in "Vastabol" tune. (he preferred open E and would use a capo to vary the key). Vestapol therefore refers to the agreement— the relationship between the open strings— not necessarily to the key. The most played Vestapol tunings are D Major (where the tuning is: DADF # -AD) or E Major (where the tuning is EBEG # -BE.) Brad uses both tunings. Hence the reference to His Vestapolitans!

Now Brad Vickers presents his new album "Twice As Nice". Brad opens with Big Maceo Merriweather’s "Worried Life Blues" and the track "Mississippi Swamp" with Mikey Junior on bluesharp. The soulful "Love Can Win" exemplifies the strongly divergent material, including Jimmy Reed's Chicago blues "Close Together", and [their] "Coast To Coast". Guest singer Margey Peters gives "Twice As Nice" a jazzy vocal form. "Red Dust" is perhaps the odd man out. Give us the swinging "Everything I Need", the enthusiastic jugband "Stealin" Stealin," and the rocking classic "Look A There Look A There". Margey Peters is back for the closing number "Brooklyn Evenings". Looking Good! 4 ½ Stars!
—Philip Verhaege, KEYS & CHORDS, Belgium

They say that music is one of the surest ways to time travel, and Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans have it down. On Twice As Nice, their 6th album, they take us back to the sixties for a heaping helping of what they call “blues, folk, jump and great American roots ‘n’ roll”, celebrating the music they love with obvious affection.

Twice As Nice is a collection of lively exchanges by all of the musicians involved, replete with some great sax solos and fine playing by all. Vickers has a lived- in voice that gives these tracks a kind of wobbly charm that’s hard to find in music these days. Brad in particular reminds me of John Mayall- not the strongest singer, but unforgettable and easy to recognize his voice when he steps up. Bassist Margey Peters shares the vocal duties. Vickers learned his craft on the job playing, recording and touring with blues and roots masters Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta and Roscoe Gordon. Knowing that before you put this on gives you an idea of what to expect.

This disc is a mix of originals and blues standards, like Worried Life Blues (taking its cue from Chuck Berry’s version), Tampa Red’s Look A There Look A There and Jimmy Reed’s Close Together. Produced by Vickers, Peters and V.D. King, the sound here is straightforward and uncomplicated, much like it would have been done back in the day when Brad was playing with the people listed in the previous paragraph. As Brad says in the press releases, “I hope you have half as much fun listening, as we had making Twice As Nice!” You know? I kinda did. 
—John Kereiff, The Rock Doctor, GONZO MAGAZINE, Canada

Brad Vickers sings with a pop styled voice and plays guitar like a juke joint junkie as he rocks the blues with a team of Bill Rankin/dr, Margey Peters/b, Jim Davis/ts, VD King/bs, Dave Keyes/or and Mickey Junior/harp-voc in a cut and paste fashion of songs. With Junior’s harp, there’s some two stepping on “Stealin’ Stealin’” and shuffling on “Look A There Look A There.” Vickers picks out a winner on the  boogie’d “Coast To Coast”, and his take on Jimmy Reed’s classic “Close Together”, and gets some earth shattering tones out of his strings. On bottleneck, Vickers creates a rural mood on “Red Dust”, with his high tone voicings creating a sweet and sour contrast to the foreboding environs, whereas the title track bounces with some exquisite riffs. This guy can hit the strings!
—George W. Harris, JAZZ WEEKLY

This cohort of New Yorkers continue in the vein established over their first five releases: a full band, playing predominantly acoustically; a broadminded attitude toward styles, with a prewar blues and jazz feel often informing the music due only in part to the presence of staple jug and string infuences.