NORTH COUNTRY PRIMER NO. 8: BRAD WOOD, ST LOUIS, MO
Originally published at North Country Primitive in January 2016
Another year, another edition of the North Country Primer. This time it’s the turn of St Louis, Missouri-based guitarist Brad Wood, who self-released the lovely Ten Years Ago via Bandcamp last year. Ten years in the making, it’s another of those melodic fingerstyle albums we love so much here: fully formed pieces interspersed with brief, haunting interludes. On the strength of his debut, we sincerely hope we won’t have to wait another ten years for the follow up…
Tell us a bit about yourself and the musical journey that took you to a place where you concluded that playing an acoustic guitar on your own was a good idea… I started playing guitar when I was about 10 years old. My parents rented me a Telecaster copy one summer and I got hooked. It was also around this time that I was getting into classic rock, bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and, of course, Jimi Hendrix. My first couple of years playing guitar was focused on rock, but later I started playing in my school’s jazz band. This was huge for me, in terms of understanding more complex chord voicings and melodic phrasing. My first year of college, I needed an extra credit hour so I took private lessons. This teacher was a finger style guitarist, and introduced me to a style of playing that was relatively unknown to me. Eleven years later, finger style is what I play the most. What have been your key influences, musical or otherwise? Are there other current guitarists you feel a particular affinity towards? From the rock world, anything Beatles, anything Hendrix, The Band, Led Zeppelin, Van Morisson…in jazz, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Pat Metheny…and of course John Fahey, Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke, etc. What is the balance of composition and improvisation in your music? Pretty much 100% of my music is composed. I have only written one finger style piece, so far, that has included elements of improvisation. It hasn’t been on purpose; I would love to include improvisation in my music, but I just haven’t gone that route yet. What are you listening to right now, old or new? Any recommendations youd like to share with us? I’ve really been enjoying the current group of finger style artists…Nathan Salsburg, Kyle Fosburgh, Daniel Bachman, William Tyler, Steve Gunn and others. I like Ryley Walker’s new album, and I’m also enjoying the Dennis Taylor reissue.
The guitar nerd bit: what instruments do you play and what do you like about them? Is there one particular instrument you’d save first in the face of a natural disaster (once you’d saved your nearest and dearest, of course!) My primary guitars are a Martin 6 string, a Tacoma baritone, and an Epiphone Dot. I used to work at a music store and had the privilege of testing out many different instruments. I’ve had these guitars since then and haven’t looked for anything different. They all feel very natural to me. The one I’d save is the Martin; it’s by far the one I play the most. Banjos: yes or no? Favourite plucked-thing that isn’t a guitar? I do own a banjo, but I’ve never had much luck playing it. Something just doesn’t click with me on it, but I do admire musicians who can play it well. Besides guitar, my favorite plucked-thing would be either a ukulele (although I rarely play one), or bass (if that counts). What are you working on at the moment and what’s store for you next? I’ve worked up a handful of new songs and hope to have a full album’s worth of them in a year or so. I’d like to upgrade my recording equipment, and perhaps add another Martin guitar to the arsenal, so I don’t have to retune so much!
Ten Years Ago is available to download from Brad’s Bandcamp page.