Blues in the Northwest
The latest release from Californian blues-rocker Brad Wilson, "Blues Thunder", is a very polished and enjoyable affair, with all twelve songs penned by by Wilson himself, who is a fine guitarist and has a really nice voice ? and is also backed by a most sympathetic and capable band. The new album follows up the successful "Hands On The Wheel" release, and it's easy to see why he is demand on the club and festival circuit.
Accompanying Brad Wilson's vocals and guitar are: Brian Beal (bass), Amrik Sandhu (drums), Kirk Nelson (keyboards) and Tumbleweed Mooney (harmonica) ? Adam Guest features on drums also, playing on two cuts. "Blues Thunder" was also produced by Wilson, and recorded at three different studios.
If anything, the cover may be a little misleading for those expecting a bona-fide blues rock affair, as there is plenty of 'light and shade' on offer, with the opening "Is It Any Wonder" being a very melodic ballad with some tasteful guitar work and a sweet vocal; and "Blue Shadows" has some jazz tinges, mainly courtesy of Kirk Nelson's piano.
The pace is lifted for the bouncing shuffle, "Step By Step", with some blistering guitar leads and the harmonica of Tumbleweed Mooney; and the title cut, "Blues Thunder" is a crunching rocker, driven again by Wilson's guitar and the forceful rhythm section of Brian Beal and Amrik Sandhu. The Bo Diddley-inspired beat of "Let's Go Barefootin' It" is a stand out, with more tasty harmonica fills; but it's then back to a gorgeous ballad in "My Faith Has Been Broken".
Elsewhere, the acoustic guitar leads off the pretty "Home", before the song builds momentum; the swinging "Black Coffee At Sunrise" fairly rattles along with rockabilly guitar leads and sounds like a 'doff of the cap' to the great American rock 'n' roll music of the 50s. This most enjoyable album ends in fine style with the rolling blues of "Sugar Sweet" and the tough, but melodic, rocker, "Never Again".
Well worth checking out for all lovers of melodic blues rock ? fine original songs, and beautifully played and recorded.
— Grahame Rhodes of Blues in the Northwest Magazine
Canada Online News
BLUES THUNDER Brad Wilson (Cali Bee Music) *** +
Wilson is a blues/ rock guitarist from California, following up his successful Hands On The Wheel album (featuring the hit The Ballad of John Lee) with Blues Thunder, a disc that rocks and rolls, but sometimes struggles to live up to its name.
It seems that to survive in the blues world today you gotta be able to rock out too, and that is something the Brad Wilson Band does with ease. Wilson is a soulful vocalist and a prett ... y smokin' guitarist, and the band aren't slouches either; Brian Beal on bass, Amerik Sandhu on drums Kirk Nelson on keys and Tumbleweed Mooney on harmonica. Songs like My Faith Has Been Broken certainly has that blues vibe, but it's an attractive mid-tempo pop tune too. Though the blues are all over this disc, I can hear many of these songs existing outside of that rigid framework as well.
You may have already heard some of Brad's music without realizing it; it's been featured in soap operas on NBC and CBS, while Regis & Kelly were known to use it too, and filmmaker John Carpenter added it to his films Vampires and Ghosts Of Mars. Roots Music Report gave his last album a 5 out of 5 rating, and the aforementioned The Ballad Of John Lee made it into daily rotation on BB King's Bluesville, my favourite channel on Sirius XM.
Blues Thunder is my first encounter with Brad Wilson's music, but it's not the balls out blues experience the title led me to believe it would be, along the lines of perhaps Stevie Ray Vaughan. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying this a great deal, but if any other song on this disc might've been a better title track, I'd suggest Blue Shadows. There's blues, there's 80's style pop and old time rock & roll here too, a very entertaining mixed bag of fun.
Ultimately Blues Thunder is pretty good company, the sort of album you want to throw on and get some stuff done- absolutely nothing wrong with that.
ESSENTIALS: Sugar Sweet, Black Coffee At Sunrise, Let's Go Barefootin' It
— John The Rock Doctor Kereiff Canada Online News
California blues rocker Brad Wilson returns with Blues Thunder (Cali Bee Music), a disc that proves his talents go well beyond that particular genre. A guitarist of impressive range and depth, and a great, soulful vocalist to boot, Wilson penned all twelve tracks on this new release, and he's backed by Brian Beal (bass), Amrik Sandhu (drums), Kirk Nelson (keyboards), and Tumbleweed Mooney (harmonica).
The opening track, "Is It Any Wonder," starts the disc off on an almost quiet, reflective note, Wilson turns in a nuanced vocal and some crisp guitar work," and "Blue Shadows" is almost jazz-like in its approach. "Change It Up" is a rocker with a slight Latin tempo. The shuffle "Step By Step" has some tasty harmonica from Mooney and fierce fretwork from Wilson. The title track is a pure hard-driving blues rocker with more standout string-shredding guitar.
Next up is the Diddley-esque "Let's Go Barefootin' It," a fun track teaming Wilson with Mooney's harmonica, followed by "My Faith Has Been Broken," a classic rock-styled ballad. There's also "Cool Runnin'," a pop-flavored mid-tempo groover, and the acoustic rambler, "Home," that slowly builds in intensity. "Black Coffee At Sunrise" finds Wilson in jump blues mode with highly satisfying results. The album ends strongly with the jazzy blues of "Sugar Sweet," which has a funky rhythm and some hot guitar, and the powerhouse rocker, "Never Again."
Based on what's heard on Blues Thunder, it sounds like Brad Wilson is branching out from the scorching blues rock of his previous release (2013's Hands On The Wheel) and showing his listeners that he's capable of much more. There's a lot of great music here that will appeal to fans of multiple genres.
— Graham Clarke Blues Bytes Magazine
Brad Wilson Blues Thunder
Cali Bee Music, Inc.
If you haven't heard of Brad Wilson?it's time you did! With fifteen previously released albums (eight recorded in the studio and seven live) and touring California all year performing over a 100 shows each year, he's a very busy man. I might add that all the tracks on this disc were penned by Wilson. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, he currently lives in Central California in the town of Visalia. He also lived in Los Angeles for years and provided music for two John Carpenter movies; "Ghosts of Mars" and his biggest movie, "Vampires." Wilson also provided many songs for TV shows; Passions and most recently The Young and The Restless.
Reflecting the plethora of musical virtuosity in his career, Wilson's sixteenth disc displays a rainbow of styles. Who knew there were so many different colors of blues, though the influence of the California sound comes shinning through on much of this recording! The first cut, "Is It Any Wonder," is a gentle country blues ballad with musical stylings that echo bands like The Eagles and is the tale of a woman who, basically lacks the ability to know how wonderful she really is; "There's a disconnect when she looks in the mirror." The second track, "Change It Up" does just that; bringing the tempo up and making a declaration of independence in the lyrics! Wilson makes the statement that, "Everybody, oh yeah, they want a piece of me, it's my life?change it up!"
Speaking of changing, track three, "Blue Shadows" is a torchy, bluesy ballad with vocal inflections reminiscent of classic Tony Bennett; smooth and sweet! The combination of the romantic piano riffs of Kirk Nelson, old school solid bass line of Brian Beal, and Wilson's guitar create the air of authenticity. Drummer, Amrik Sandhu comes in for the final verse to seal the deal. The fourth cut, "Step By Step" is a pure blues, up-town shuffle featuring trade-off riffs between Wilson and harmonica player, Tumbleweed Mooney. This tune ends with Mooney fading out, and then suddenly ceasing. The fifth cut, "Blues Thunder" is the title track and a real rocker incorporating spoken word! Adam Gust steps in on drums for this number including of a very unique instrumental reprise and Wilson shredding on guitar to close this tune. Track six, "Let's Go Barefootin' It" could be described as Bo Diddley meets the bayou. I felt like flippin' my kicks off and dancing to this one!
The seventh cut; Wilson shows off his versatility again in, "My Faith has Been Broken" an up-tempo rock ballad. He declares that he has been duped by a lover who, "Has broken another heart?you've got this down to a fine art!" Returning literally to California rock 'n' roll, "Cool Runnin" Wilson makes references to Sunset Boulevard and L.A. on track eight. Opening with folk-style guitar riffs, the ninth cut, "Home" breaks into an Americana sound. John Cougar Melloncamp could cover this song and people would easily think it was his composition. Track ten, "Black Coffee At Sunrise" is a jump/blues format. I had to chuckle when I heard Wilson sing about his "brand new used Cadillac." If I were able to "tag" someone in this song, it would be my friend Ray who has a serious passion for classic Caddy's.
The eleventh cut, "Sugar Sweet" is a lazy meter shuffle. The intro sounds as though it is being recorded from a phone call, then breaks into studio quality. Wilson flaunts his vocal ability, lifting his voice to a lofty sensual quality; then the ending returns to a flat sound as it fades away. The final cut, "Never Again" is another up-tempo rock ballad. The chorus repeats the title; shifting from major to minor key giving this tune an eerie quality not present in any other tune on this recording. Wilson layers his guitar in the solo, once again shredding on top of power chords. He sings of the "Healing of this heart of mine is gonna take just a little more time. Tears sometimes can melt the pain."
Despite the title of this disc, I beg of you, don't pigeon-hole this recording. This isn't just blues; it's just great American music. Well worth the listen!
— Ms Marci of Soundwaves Magazine
Bman Blues Report!
Cali Bee Music Inc. artist: Brad Wilson - Blues Thunder - New Release Review
I just received the newest release, Blues Thunder, from Brad Wilson and it's a mix of pop and guitar stylist. Opening with Is It Any Wonder, Wilson, who takes lead vocal and guitar, sings smoothly in quiet pop form but with tasty guitar riffs throughout. Backed by Brian Beal on bass, Amrik Sandhu on drums and Kirk Nelson on keys, this is a perfect radio track. Up tempo, Change It Up has an almost Latin rhythm and Wilson's riff, although not really Spanish in origin, have a kind of Santana feel. Moody blues ballad, Blue Shadow, features Wilson on vocal with really clean piano work by Nelson. This is a pretty classic 50's style jazz track executed in cool form. Taking a page from Robben Ford's book, Wilson rips some pretty nice riffs in contrast to this otherwise subdued track. Very nice! Blues rocker, Step By Step has a nice rhythm to it and Tumbleweed Mooney adds some real nice harp work as well. Title track Blues Thunder is a definite fist pumper throw back to arena rock. Wilson steps out of the box on this one throwing out every riff a good shredder holds. Let's Go Barefootin' It in sharp contrast has a Bo Diddley rhythm and is almost devoid of guitar. Mooney helps to emphasize the already prominent rhythm on harp. My Faith Has Been Broken has a classic rock styling with dominant vocals and a solid melody. Cool Runnin' has an understated feel and a straightforward melody. This track could easily get cross radio play with is easy rhythm and nice melody. Home has a rambling rhythm with rolling tom tom and acoustic guitar. With an almost Bruce Springsteen feel, this track has a nice feel. Rocker, Black Coffee At Sunrise, gets the band hopping with a jump kind of feel. Possibly my favorite track on the release, Wilson spits out some nice fluid hot riffs. Sugar Sweet is a cool jazzy track with an easy rhythm. A real likable track it shows the strongest construction on the release with a tapestry of instruments tightly woven together and a hot guitar solo to boot. Wrapping the release is another straight up rocker, Never Again, with a concrete bottom and solid vocals. Wilson lets out the dog on his fretboard showing that he's not just another guitar player for a nice conclusion to an evenly paced release.
"The back cover of Brad Wilson's new CD, Hands On The Wheel (Blues Boulevard Records) reads that the California guitarist "plays high-octane rocked-up Blues." Yeah, and Moby Dick was a big fish. That statement is the only understated item about this electrifying CD. Brad Wilson rocks the house, y'all.....pure and simple. If you're looking for a disc to plug into your car stereo, crank up to 11 with the windows and top down, look no further. "
—Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes Magazine
"When the opening riff of Hands On The Wheel begins, it will be hard to put down Brad Wilson's album, a driving Blues/Rock hybrid that beckons people to lean in closer to the speaker and listen carefully to this unique mixture of tasty guitar riffs that need to be noticed, and the wailing vocals represent all that that sounds cool. In fact, this album should be wearing its own pair of sunglasses!"
— Michael Brasier, American Blues Scene