Brad Colerick Brings His Big Sky Music to McCabe's
When singer-songwriter, Brad Colerick moved to Los Angeles from Nebraska he carried with him the heart of the country in a town that wasn’t known for its affection for country music. But it the songs came as natural to him as the flow of a wild midwestern river. He began in his youth with a pure love for the music, writing his own unique folk-country songs that reflected his surrounding landscape in stories and melodies to match his inner visions. He has always written big sky songs that mined deeply into the heart. This is the clearest signature of his critically acclaimed 2014 release, Tucson. His songs are heart sketches, traces of longing, of love lost and found, redemened in the art of song.
As time moved along, Colerick would find his bread & butter writing songs in advertising. It was the kind of job that could create envy in many songwriters. It was a steady paycheck and an upward career path. And there were occasional brushes with music legends, most notably, he co-wrote a song for Sears that was recorded by Johnny Cash.
But, for Colerick there was always an ache to get back to the heart of where he started; that is writing and recording original songs. His move to L.A. found him working with former Eagles, Timothy B Schmidt and Randy Meisner among many others legends of rock music.
But, the longing to write more than songs for advertising haunted him. It was always at the back of his mind and in his heart to return, in song, to the land of the big sky that remained deeply rooted inside of him.
Over the last few years, Colerick has cut himself loose from the advertising world into the not-always-so-lucrative world of Americana music as a singer-songwriter and proprietor of his own musical endeavor known as, Deep Mix, which provides record production, booking services and music supervision for the expanding independent film market.
Also, a community of music began to grow around him. It began with a few writers getting together. “It started out at people’s homes. Four or five songwriters would come together to play songs they were working on,” he explains. “Everyone would give there feedback and try to make suggestions. We’d listen to each other’s advice, and then, most of us just ignored it.” Colerick laughs. “But, it grew and we eventually we found an audience in South Pasadena. We had to move out of homes into something more public.”
Fortunately, he found the open doors of local wineries and at one point a community theater. What began as a casual get together on Wednesday nights, has turned into a well-attended informal independent Americana music series which includes friends, local songwriters, musicians and an occasional out-of-town special guest. As venues have changed, the audience has followed. It’s really quite a feat in the L.A. area’s reluctant-to-get-out-work-night’s population. But, he built it and they came. To add dimension to the series, Colerick has added a Sunday once-a-month ticketed concert series at Wine in Pasadena.
One major avenue the scene for the growth of community that came around for ‘wine and song’ was the community social network. So, it was natural for Colerick to strike up a conversation with the owner of the popular South Pasadena toy store, Dinosaur Farm, David Plenn, while shopping with his kids. Plenn, as it turned out, was a former songwriter and guitar slinging journeyman who had played in an ‘almost famous’ band that was signed to A&M Records in the early 70’s. This led to a chance meeting with rock musician, Jerry Ripolle. Penn joined the band, playing guitar and collaborating on songs with Ripolle, which led to having a recorded by Kenny Loggins. “They were wild days,” says Plenn. “I’m 17 years old and Jerry’s picking me up at school for a session. Herb (Alpert) would come in and visit the sessions. Then, we’d go open for The Kinks at Santa Monica Civic.” One of the studios Plenn found himself working was Sound City in Van Nuys, California during the days when Fleetwood Mac was forming with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. As Plenn tells it, Jerry Ripolle was a superstar, in Arizona. At one point, while Plenn was i his band, they played shows for as many as 15,000 fans.
But, like Colerick, daily life needed tending to and as Plenn became a father, he found opening a toy store would allow him more family time than life as a touring musician. “They were wild days,” says
So Plenn dusted off his guitar and started attending Colerick’s weekly Winery shows. Slowly, the songs started coming back.
Plenn’s songs proved strong enough to compel Colerick to record and name his latest album after one of his songs, “Tucson.”“I used to go to Tucson all the time. There was this guy we called ‘Big Bob.’ He’d show up and help us road manage, book hotels. When we’d go to parties, he’d make sure we got to the van. He was character and good friend over the years. I saw him New Years Eve three years ago. He was like Gary Cooper, you know?” Plenn explains. “He starts talking about this song I wrote and he starts crying. Three days later he dies of an aneurism. I went to the memorial. I literally got in the car and wrote the song driving 85 miles an hour going to Tucson.”
For Brad Colerick, the song proved to be a strong starting point for his latest album, which is easily one of the best independent Americana albums released in 2014. Just as the title song, “Tucson” is road-trip narrative, the remaining songs from Colerick describes the landscape of the soul reflected in his stories and travels. He is also one of those rare artists who is a gatherer of talent. It’s a natural flow, from the dreams of an artist to break out of a mold, to risk and create outlets and avenues for others. As Colerick and Plenn work together at their upcoming performance at McCabe’s this show is much more than just a ‘show,’ it is a harvest of sort. A harvest of song by an artist who began with dreams of music from the Big Sky country of Nebraska.