Brad Cole
Gig Seeker Pro

Brad Cole

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter




"Brad Cole Interview"

Brad Cole weaves a varied thread of influences to great effect in his catalog, but he says the musicianship and experience of recording his latest, ‘Lay It Down,’ takes things to another level entirely. Through a brand new PledgeMusic campaign, Brad is giving his biggest fans an exclusive look at the creative process along with his signed Martin guitar, song commission, signed music and much more. We recently asked him about his NYC home, his love for East Nashville and why this studio session proved to be so meaningful.

You mentioned how the album seems set in mid-‘60s to mid-’70s Americana. Do you have some favorite artists of that era who really impacted you?

Wow, there are so many artists who have had an influence and impact on me, but I think the top of the heap is Astrud Gilberto, Leon Russell, and The Staple Singers.

You also bring up overtones of several other genres. How does that reflect your own listening tastes?

Still, Gilberto and The Staples -- their respective genres are things I listen to all the time. When I’m in transit and running around, I’ll stream whatever my whim is and take in the variety of what the streamers offer. It’s easy, mindless and kind of keeps new things rolling in. When I am listening at home, its mostly jazz standards. I go through some esoteric rock stuff and old dub reggae. To me, the ’60s and ’70s just seemed to be more creative than most of what I hear today.

It sounds like you had several great musicians play alongside you. Can you give us some details there?

Well the key to everything was my producer, Joe McMahan. We spent a lot of time together talking about sounds, grooves and genres. Part of Joe’s job as my partner/producer on the record is sourcing players to fit the vision. We were both excited about finding someone to play vibes, but vibes in Nashville is not an everyday occurrence.

A friend of Joe’s mentioned the new kid in town, James Westfall -- he just moved from New Orleans -- so I went to meet him for a beer. He’s a sweet guy, said he played piano too, we eventually started connecting on old jazz records and found some common ground, so we decided to take a chance. His composition on-the-fly was mind-blowing, filling the monitors and headphones with his vibes. His playing made me feel he was the centerpiece of what was to be the distinctive mark of this album.

I have toured with Craig Akin on bass and Philip Sterk on pedal steel, so I am accustomed to their dexterity, their chops, their professionalism and their musical whimsy. I knew I wanted them on the record, but of course, they live in New Jersey and Brooklyn respectively. It was a tough sell but Joe decided to go with them and bring them to Nashville for the session. Some folks might raise an eyebrow or two at the thought of bringing players into Nashville!

I had seen three or four other drummers in Nashville and Josh Hunt was tops on my list, Joe agreed. Luckily he was available. Joe also played guitar on the record. Part of what Joe also did was ride the effects box on numerous passes of Philips pedal steel playing. It sounds like a robot getting tickled. He did this on the fly and we kept a ton of it.

We did extra sessions with singers Alexis Saski and Laura Mayo, and not only are they great singers, they wrote amazing parts for many of these tunes. Randy Leago turned out to be our utility player adding percussion, saxes and piano.

I think the icing on the cake was Chris Carmichael’s strings. I love strings from the ’50s and ’60s -- the wilder, the better. Joe had worked with Chris before and played me a few things and, yes, ‘outside-the-box’ is Chris’s middle name. We decided which songs to add strings on then recorded and wrote parts around where the strings would ultimately go. That’s leaving a lot to trust. Chris wrote all the parts, played all the instruments, sometimes 20 tracks per song. Chris lives in Bowling Green, and I did not meet him until after the recording was done, but when I did I gave him a big hug.

Serendipity was in full force with this record; no doubt, it was studio magic.

You’re based in NYC but ended up recording in East Nashville. Did you consider recording at home? Did recording in Nashville affect the album’s vibe?

I just loved the community and level of professionalism in Nashville, but I am not a Music Row guy. It’s really about the East Nashville community. I have an apartment there, so it was not much of a stretch for me to be there. Compared to Nashville, the music community in NYC/Brooklyn is scattered. I’ve only been living there for a couple years and outside of a handful of players and songwriters, I did not feel the pull to record there. The album;s vibe is all about where its recorded, no doubt.

What’s next for you beyond the campaign and album release?

Well, I am putting together a mini-tour with the band that recorded the record. I very much want to play with these guys as much as we can. Outside of just being a great hang, bringing these songs to life live is just spectacular and beyond fun. It’s essentially seven of us, so it’s a big deal. We will select only a handful of cities and if it goes well, we will put together a bigger tour later in the year. I still do solo shows and trio shows as well – we can all fit into my Toyota!

Beyond that, the next record will most likely be very different. My fans will most likely be hearing more from my social conscience about the world we live in. - PledgeMusic

"Brad Cole at Fiddler's Crossing"

Autumn often brings a mood of introspection as the air softens and nature turns golden. Fiddlers Crossing’s next concert will be in keeping with the season when award-winning singer-songwriter Brad Cole performs October 23, at 7p.m.

The songs of Brad Cole address the ups and downs of the human condition with both wit and raw insight. His passionate and distinctive delivery of roots-based folk music, woven with the grit and groove of old school r&b, moves audiences in a way that is unexpected, yet at the same time familiar.

Cole grew up the youngest of three in an upper middle class suburb on Chicago’s south side. He says of his childhood, “Life was sweet back in the ‘60s. Listening to music was a common denominator in my family – jazz standards and show tunes for my dad, Frank Zappa and The Who for my brother, and Streisand for my sister. And of course the Beatles and Rolling Stones were everywhere. I made my mom take me to see Woodstock the movie when I was 12.”

His brother played in bands, but his parents didn’t encourage playing music. “They were old school that way,” he said, “How are you going to make a living as a musician?”

When the younger Cole finally picked up a guitar in college, he just learned a few chords and started making up tunes. Once out of college, Cole joined the wild Chicago rock ‘n’ roll scene that included bands such as Uncle Tupelo, Smashing Pumpkins and Ministry. He and his “reggae–meets-punk” band became local heroes, he said. “We thought we were pretty good.”

Then in 1992, a tragedy almost destroyed his family. His brother was shot and killed. “Wrong place, wrong time, kind of thing,” he says. “I just stopped playing, stopped dreaming.” He settled down with a regular job, got married and had a daughter, and just focused on his family.

In 1999, the former rocker heard Patty Griffin’s Living With Ghosts. “That was a game changer for me,” he says. He was struck by the magic of lyrics. He wanted to use his melodies to tell stories and paint feelings. Cole kept his day-job while putting together another band that was more folk-like and acoustic. “It was fun and I was serious. I realized that besides my daughter, my acoustic guitar had become my best and most intimate friend.”

Another turning point came for Cole in 2007. A friend from his past reappeared in his life. “We reconnected over lots of coffee and he shared everything with me about his 10 years as a crack addict, living in the gutter, and how he eventually got clean and sober and ended up working at his treatment center. I guess between my friend and those early Patty Griffin songs, I discovered a new level of truth, like the haze had been lifted. I was inspired by stories of falling down and rising up and my writing really shifted. I no longer needed to hide my songs behind a band.”

He committed himself to being an artist and went back on the road full time, “to take the risk, get in that space and see what comes of it.”

Cole has released a music video called, “I Got a Job at the Church,” that paints a compelling portrait of a man in recovery.

Cole says of his life now, “My muse is fruitful, I am inspired, I am humbled by those who have helped me, and grateful to have love in my life. Like my friend, who is still clean and sober, we both ended up getting a job at the church: His, the church of recovery, and mine, the church of music.”

Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, Lucky’s Barbershop, or online at Tickets to the concert are $20, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30p.m.

On the horizon at Fiddlers Crossing: Claudia Russell and Bruce Kaplan; Men of Worth; “Winterdance,” with Molly’s Revenge with Christa Burch and Irish dancers in the BeeKay Theatre.
- Deborah Hand Cutler - Fiddler's Crossing

"Acoustic Live"

There are some performers who seem born to command a stage. Something in the stance; an easy, relaxed, but assured presence. We probably missed the years it took to develop that command, but the performer’s execution gives the appearance of it always having been there. That’s how it is with singer/songwriter Brad Cole. His voice has a sharp, unerring, laserlike quality, homing in on those uneasy truths most of us evade.
Brad had gotten in touch with me through another performer about picking up a slot in our guerrilla showcase at the 2012 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference. Alas, we’d already filled all of our spaces and couldn’t fit him in. Our loss, as it turned out. We managed to catch him live at another showcase and he stuck out like a GQ cover model strolling the Bowery. The performance that propelled the push for a feature article in these pages was at WFUV-FM DJ John Platt’s May 2013 “On Your Radar” session at NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall. I had no idea going in that Brad possesses the kind of talent that attracts top-flight backing musicians. The group that gathered around him at Rockwood included genre-jumping bassist Craig Akin (Red Molly, among others), crackerjack drummer Joel Arnow (crisp and restrained, absolutely perfect) and Philip Sterk on pedal steel. Philip was a revelation. I asked Brad how he found Philip, and he replied, “Philip was on tour when I heard him playing at The 5 Spot in East Nashville and I started stalking him.” It’s obvious why. When I said that the set sounded very Nashville-like, Brad responded, “It’s not really what we are going for. I get that comment quite a bit and I guess it’s because Philip is so present on pedal and dobro, but he is hugely versatile
— classic country licks in his sleep and Hendrix kind of stuff before breakfast.” The wildest part of it is that Philip lives in New York.

During the On Your Radar set we became more fully aware of why Brad can get this kind of support. He delivers mature, highly developed, radio-friendly songwriting and an assured stage presence. After we got our communication strategy out of the way, Brad filled us in on how all this came to be. Beginnings
In a suburb called Graymoor, on the south side of Chicago, Brad Cole spent what he calls a boring but safe childhood. His father was into jazz. Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Louie Prima and Frank Sinatra took their turns on the stereo. When Brad’s older brother and sister came home from college, they brought home a deluge of rock ’n’ roll. An electric current flowed from The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, Frank Zappa, Blood, Sweat and Tears,TheBeachBoys’PetSounds,TheWho’s Tommy, James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection, Blind Faith, and Santana’s Abraxas. Motown also loomed large.
Brad “made” his mother take him to see the movie Woodstock before he was 10 years old. His earliest memory of playing was bongos along with his older brother and his friends while they played Kingston Trio and Beatles covers. “I don’t think I ever made it out of the basement though,” Brad recalled.

He got a drum kit for his bar mitzvah but, since they lived in a small house, the drums did not last long.
During his high school years, the only music he was involved with was temple choir. Brad said he was pretty shy, but also admits that he and his friends partied a lot. For them, listening to music and going to concerts was everything. “It was our language and it was our way,” he said.

The Doorway of Higher Learning
It wasn’t until he was a sophomore at the University of Illinois that Brad picked up his first guitar. His roommate played blues harp through a little distorted amp and Brad decided it was cool so he kept playing.
As soon as he got out of college, Brad put a band together and called it Treatment. He stated: “We were all about The Police, New Order, The English Beat and Bob Marley. We weren’t great, but it worked — mixing ska, reggae, and rock. It was fun.” Brad was the front man and wrote all the songs. “At that time, it was more about dancing and drinking,” he told me. Now he sees his musical calling as more about journeys and laments.
In short order, they were headlining major venues in Chicago, talking to labels and setting up a tour.

Hitting a Wall
Things came to a crashing halt when Brad’s older brother was shot and killed. “Everything for me shut down,” he said. In a sort of limbo, describing that time, Brad says he “floated for a while.” Having married a few years before, he told me, “My daughter Rachel was born, which was a gift from God. I worked a few different jobs and barely touched the guitar for about five years.” Then one day a woman he worked with played Patty Griffin’s Living With Ghosts. “That flipped the switch,” he said. “She moved me.” Brad immersed himself in Patty and the work of Shawn Colvin and Amiee Mann. Those were the performers/lyricists, who pulled him out of his malaise and set him in a new direction of playing.

Slow Turning
At this point Brad started to really listen to Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Paul Simon and many other lyricists. He had taken them for granted and now recognized their brilliance. He began hanging around the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago and became part of its monthly songwriters group, Songwriters Forum, which was similar to the late Jack Hardy’s weekly Songwriter’s Exchange in New York. Brad’s new impetus was writing songs that were universal, that described the human condition, both others’ stories and his own. He didn’t break out of the rock realm immediately, but performed with a series of other bands in Chicago. One of them, The Second Story, did some touring andreleasedHighway200 in2008.However, Brad described it as “still the same sort of club-rock music.” He had fun and grew as a player, but outside of the band’s friends and family, no one noticed.
Brad had been going to Nashville on and off beginning in 2007 just to hang out. He said, “Something about those trips made me a better listener, and also gave me hope that as a writer, I was on the right track.”

He experienced an epiphany of sorts somewhere in 2009. It became clear to him that with the time he had left in his life, he needed to focus on his own artful expression of the truth and he needed to express that truth publicly. He asked himself, “How am I going to make this work?” He had saved a little money for his daughter Rachel’s schooling, so he felt safe in taking the next step. Brad told her he had quit his job and was going to hit the road to try to break away from the rock ’n’ roll patterns he’d developed in Chicago. He felt a sense of uplift and release but was frightened at the same time. The biggest issue for him was his sound. He wasn’t happy with it anymore. He told me, “I felt I needed to burn down my old sound and start from scratch.”
Brad’s solo album, Exile, came out in 2010. This record was more toned down. He had just been divorced so the writing and recording of this album were full of anger and heartache. He is still proud of its personal and universal expression. The lead track “Come Home” has won numerous songwriting awards.
There was still a struggle, though, for the right sound. He still felt the sense of being under the weight of the old rock framework.

The Next Step
He described the next step this way: “So I moved to East Nashville late in 2011, wrote a bunch of songs, found some great teachers and recorded a very simple album. Something with a lot of space, and this is working for me. The album Down The Line has done exceptionally well in terms of airplay and sales, but the songs lend themselves to whoever I am playing with, and on stage, these songs take on a life of their own. They’re different every time. I guess this was my problem with my old records and where I was as a performer five -10 years ago. It all seemed so stiff.
“Now I am blending rhythms I love: old school bossa nova, reggae and soul, with more rootsy instrumentation like pedal steel and mandolin or even if it’s just me solo. The music is earnest, yet it moves. So by emptying out a lot of the noise in my writing and focusing on what’s true, what’s fun and what’s right, I am a happy guy and things are working.”
Brad has been touring nonstop now for three years. He does 120-plus shows a year, mostly east of the Mississippi. He says, “It’s a hustle but it’s working. It’s great.”
He has generated a loyal fan base that turns out for his shows and “that makes such a difference,” he said.
In his travels he says he sees so many players and finds very little that truly impresses him, but
he still feels intrinsically inspired to make music of his own design: “an elusive sound which is a blend of styles that pushes me physically, mentally, intellectually and creatively.”

Making it Happen
At first listen, there appeared to me to be more similarities than differences between Exile and Down the Line. After repeated listens, the differences were clear. If Exile was Brad doing a somersault on solid ground, on Down the Line, he’s doing cartwheels on a tightrope in mid-air. While I extol the refinements of Down the Line, it’s not to dismiss Exile. One track in particular, “Summer Leaves,” reels us in: Then Summer leaves / And her laughter echoes back to me what serious September brings / And I’m pulled along, at a different speed / Turn the page and it’s all gone, gone, gone, gone. The quick tempo belies the hurt evident in the melody and lyrics. The much-lauded lead track on Exile, “Come Home,” is an inspired song channeling a military man who wishes nothing more than to return home and leave the madness of war behind. I want to come home to you tonight, lay my body down / And help me find some love for this empty heart / Help me find peace when I fall apart / And never let this river carry me so far away again. We definitely hear a number of songs that channel his “old” rock sensibility. “Monster,” “A Leg to Stand On,” “The Air,” and “My Oasis” use a lot of crunchy, distorted lead guitar licks at times, with heavy drum and bass lines and heavy reverb. However, that said, it’s all done so deftly that it’s obvious Brad could have gone on indefinitely, making good money fronting rock bands in clubs. It took a strong urge to create a more sublime version of life’s truths to pry him away from repeating that pattern. While Brad was not entirely satisfied with Exile, he had set the bar pretty high for improvement. But... improve he did. There’s a stripped- down quality to Down the Line that allows a more intimate feel and a sense that Brad is drawing us much closer to him. The lead track, “Cry, Cry, Cry,” is crafted like a Rubik’s cube, the lyrics and melody nimbly exploring the agony of love lost. Well it’s springtime in Chicago and the gray is all gone / The president is on the TV talking ’bout urban renewal and he’s ramblin’ on / I should be happy, the sun has found the sky / But all IcanthinkaboutistheloveIletpassmeby/ cry cry cry.

In “Something About Goodbye,” Brad strips his past and his emotions bare: I’m here in Music City, putting in my time / I’m far from my old town, it gets lonely here sometimes / but I am fine, and you are on my mind / Did I say how much I love you? / Thank you proper for our time? / Did I hold you close enough, To feel your heart beat, next to mine? / Oh, I miss you... / I signed up for the journey, I was shooting for the stars, / I was going for the big time but ended up in bars / If I’m shakin’ like The King, or sleepin’ in my car, I can call on you. We can see now why he made the changes in his life. Listening to this song closely, I am belatedly shaken. We recorded Brad performing one of his new songs, “Union of Souls,” at the On Your Radar show. It offers hope in a new relationship: Between you and me I feel a spark, I feel your current radiate inside of me. I feel we are the same. / Like me, you’ve been knocked down, weathered by the rain... / No more waiting, only moments, as we run this road together to a higher ground... / for we have a Union of Souls.

One of the most effective examples of Brad’s philosophy regarding his desire to mix styles is his collaboration with rapper Staff Johnson on the video “Killing Your Brother,” found on his website and on YouTube. This is a heartfelt cry for a cease-fire in the gang warfare in his hometown of Chicago. The combination of music and grieving images is wrenching. If a tear doesn’t slide down your cheek as you watch this, better get your pulse checked.

Sometimes one’s offspring can be the most significant creation. Brad told me: “My daughter Rachel might be my biggest inspiration. She’s got guts, she knows how to let go of things and she keeps me current on lots of new music.” Wherever he finds his inspiration, we know we can always count on a live performance from Brad Cole to inspire the rest of us.
Website: - Acoustic Live

"New Exile Review!"

Brad Cole has created another stellar album with the release of Exile on May 19, 2010. Since that debut, Cole’s album has been gaining popularity at a steady pace. Best known for his monthly host of the Acoustic Circus as a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, Cole is a musician passionate about his music and its ability to change the world around him.

This belief in the power of music mixed with Cole’s raw talent generates a fascinating excitment on Exile. This album displays the realities of everyday life: the struggles and hardships of making it through each and every day. The song ‘The Hardest Part’ is an excellent example of this theme. His heartfelt lyrics about the challenges of everyday life mesh flawlessly with the slow-paced country rock sound.

Cole’s songs also discuss loss and the desire to regain what was lost. The very first song reflects this desire in the title ‘Come Home.’ This song is about a man at war desiring to return home and be with his wife once again. The lyrics are riveting and moving. ‘Come Home’ also epitomizes the country-alt rock sound that characterizes Brad Cole. The most prevalent instruments include the acoustic guitars and wailing pedal steel.

Another popular song is ‘Monster.’ This song is the grittiest of all the songs on the album. Brad Cole is highly influenced by the blues and this is best depicted in ‘Monster.’ About halfway through the nine song album, ‘Monster’ marks the transition from country rock to grungy blues. The urge to sway and rock your head to the deep, soulful beat and crying guitar is uncontrollable.

There is an immense variety of instruments and vocals on this album because Exile features many guest artists. ‘Come Home’ features Van Ghost’s Rocco Labriola on the pedal steel while ‘The Hardest Part’ adds the vocals of Kate Schell to the background. Dick Prall also makes several appearances on the album. This variety creates a unique country-alt rock sound mixed with gritty blues that reflects the music of Dave Matthews, John Mayer, and R.E.M.

It is refreshing to experience an album that is concerned with the seemingly trivial hardships of everyday life. For, in the end, these are the hardships that impact us the most because they are ever present. It is nice to have music that recognizes this reality. - Static Multimedia

"Cole Won't Exile Fans in New Album"

Monday, 08 November 2010

When it comes to selecting music for an iPod, people only add music that they love and enjoy. I can’t confess to normally being a fan of country music but I would definitely add a few songs from Brad Cole’s new album “Exile.”

The majority of Cole’s songs talk about being away from home and wanting to return. In the song “Come Home”, he talks about being away during war and wanting to return home to the woman that he loves. “I won’t run, I can’t hide, I want to come home to you tonight and lay my body down.” It is a touching song that will move you no matter what mood you’re in. His passion clearly shines through on the track.

Cole has a beautiful angelic voice and his lyrics talk about challenges in life that take place everyday in life. For example, on the track “The Hardest Part” he sings “ I smile while I crumble but to just walk away is the hardest thing of all and you moved on but the loves not gone” This particular song is about a woman leaving him and moving on with life, while he’s still reminiscing. This track is without a doubt one of the strongest on the album and my favorite on the album, in life many things are hard to walk away from or leave alone.

The album’s nine songs focus on love, pain, memories of good times and being away from a place, person or thing that once had a strong hold on him. The sound of the guitar and drums in each song amplify Cole’s words to make each song all that more intense.

Each song has a different story or message. The track “Monster” has a heavier beat on the drums and guitar. You can’t help but rock your head to the music, No it‘s nothing like Lady GaGa‘s song “Monster” but it will rock you in a whole new way. Cole‘s lyrics “There’s a monster at the door, he’s not looking in, pretending you don’t see him and he’ll never let you be” This song could of have many meanings but this “Monster” perhaps can be a person’s own fears or addictions that they’re afraid to face.

Overall, Cole’s new CD is solid and enjoyable and worth spending the nine dollar price tag on his site. His music gives a message that people can relate to in everyday life. Cole’s music has a more soft and likable sound that’s relaxing to your ears. I admit it didn’t entirely change my life but with all the new material out there it is getting harder and harder to create the kind of music that is a hit every time. Cole has already caught my attention and a slew of fans as well. We will find out with his next album if he has the lasting power to keep it. - Lumino Magazine

"Brad Cole-Exile CD Review"

Chicago music fans familiar with singer-songwriter Brad Cole know him as the host of the monthly Acoustic Circus at Elbo Room and for his work on behalf of the Alzheimer's Association. Cole is also a veteran of the bands Treatment, The Second Story and The Subscribers, as well as a recording artist. His new CD, Exile, is a follow-up to 2008's Highway 200.

The songs on Exile, driven by Cole's world weary vocals, are uniformly strong and offer up some nice collaborations: Van Ghost's Rocco Labriola adds cryin' pedal steel to the plaintive country rocker "Come Home"; "Waiting For You" features jazzy drums and noir-ish guitar; Kate Schell adds delicate backing vocals to "The Hardest Part"; "Monster" is distorted funk rock; flute is featured on "Crossin' the Line"; "My Oasis" has the jangle of early R.E.M. and the anthemic qualities of U2.

A solid effort from one of Chicago's true hidden treasures, Exile finds Brad Cole getting by with a little help from his friends. - Hostage Radio

"Martyr’s Rocks the Release Party for Brad Cole’s Second Album"

Fans of artists like Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer will love the sound of Brad Cole. Cole creates a smooth mix of popular rock n’ roll with hints of the blues, which shows his Chicago roots. The music played smoothly and organically.

Cole and his band played to a full house in Martyr’s Bar and Pub; a large open space dimly lit by votive candles, decorated with murals of music legends on the walls. After the show started it became difficult to find a seat at the bar or an open table. The band started the set off with several songs from the newly released album, Exile.

The audience could see the band having fun with their music on stage and their energy could be felt throughout the bar. Cole engaged the audience enthusiastically smiling into the crowd and jumping up and down. At least once Cole could be seen sporting an air guitar at the end of a song and dancing to the beat of the music as he sang and played guitar. It was clear he enjoyed being on stage and playing his music.

The crowd locked onto Cole’s groove and ran with it. Dancing and bopping their heads to the music and flowing with the sound they gave as much as they got. The crowd engaged with the band especially when he played “A Million Miles Away” which had an upbeat and fun energy to it.

However, after a while several of the songs began to blend together because of similarity in their chord progressions, lyric content and style. Cole even commented the songs were all basically “break up” songs. The audience’s interest in the music ebbed and flowed throughout the set sometimes paying more attention than others.

Throughout the evening the songs that stood out included more of a blues influence. The most intense song of the set came near the middle of the set when the music switched from a popular rock style to a grittier, earthy blues sound in the song “Monster.“ This song displayed a darkness none of the other songs seemed to explore and held the audience captive in its spell. He played with such feeling and vulnerability it easily stood out as the best moment of the evening.

The evening then continued on to some of the material off of Cole’s first album. However, nothing topped the edgy-blues feel of “Monster” and the set started to drag as the band continued to play more songs. The final song of the night picked up the pace and finished out the evening on a high note. - Lumino Magazine


Lay It Down - LP - 2016
Pause - EP - 2014
Down The Line - LP - 2013
Exile - LP - 2010
Highway 200 - LP - 2008
Mercy Graymoor - EP- 2005



The songs of Brad Cole address the ups and downs of the human condition with both wit and raw insight. His passionate and distinctive delivery of roots-based folk music, woven with the grit and groove of old school bossa and rhythm & blues moves the listener’s soul in a direction that is unexpected, yet perfectly familiar.

Brad has just released his fourth full length record, entitled Lay It Down. Described by Glide Magaizine as  "one of the most beautiful albums you will hear this year", Lay it Down is perhaps Brad's most soulfully eclectic and cohesive work to date. 

The last twenty four months have been  very fruitful for Brad - Playing over a hundred shows and sharing the stage with a range of immensely talented artists such as Chris Stapleton, Shovels and Rope, Ingrid Michaelson, Dave Davies, Ari Hest, Dan Navarro, Ellis Paul and Will Kimbrough.

In 2015 Brad, joined forces with award winning singer songwriters Matt Nakoa and Robinson Treacher for a few shows that has lead to critical acclaim, an extrodinary video series and a run of sold out shows up and down the East Coast.  Elmore Magazine noted, “Cole Nakoa & Treacher deliver heart stopping harmonies.  Individually, these guys shine,but together, theyre positively brilliant!

2017 marks the launch of Brad’s new project Bossa Blue - the band delivers a unique dark and smokey retro lounge vibe.  Combining elements of Cool Jazz, Bossa Nova, Soul & Blues over re-envisioned Standards, contemporary and classic rock tunes and in the groove originals.  

For years, Cole has been a fixture on the Chicago music scene, performing along side artists that make up the fabric of the city’s musical legacy such as Juinor Wells, Otis Rush, Uncle Tupelo and the Smashing Pumpkins.  Brad led several Chicago based bands including Treatment, The Second Story, Psycholove and along with singer-songwriter Jeff Libman, he is co-founder of the acoustic/soul collective known as Check With Lucy. He is a longtime member of Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music’s monthly “Songwriters Forum”. In addition, Brad curates the traveling songwriter series Acoustic Circus. In 2016, Brad’s life and music became the main subject of a short film titled Cole Soul by award-winning filmmaker Steven Weiss. Currently based in New York City, Brad Cole tours extensively both as a solo acoustic performer and with his full band. 

Currently based in New York City, Brad Cole tours extensively with his band and as a solo acoustic performer.

  • 2016 New Song Songwriting and Performance Competition at Lincoln Center Finalist
  • 2015 Great American Song Contest WINNER
  • 2014 Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Finalist
  • 2014 Folk Alliance Official Showcase Performer
  • 2012 Mountain Stage NewSong Regional Finalist

Band Members