Brad Hammonds
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Brad Hammonds

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Band World Singer/Songwriter


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Brad Hammonds @ Caffe Vivaldi

New York, New York, United States

New York, New York, United States



Plenty of intensity drives Greene Street, the all-instrumental masterwork of the Brad Hammonds Group. Brad himself is on guitars and writes all the songs. Add in Will Matina on cello, Jason Dimatteo, Mathias Kunzli on percussion, and Nick Russo on banjo and mandolin, and you have a group capable of Spanish-influenced jazz, French-tinged dance reels, and neo-folk spacing out.

Yet, while many of the group’s contemporaries seek the unique sounds and the otherworldly arrangements, here all songs are kept airy and beautiful; no guitar solo swirls off into elevator music, no melody sounds rehashed or cheesy. It’s some of the best-crafted music of its kind.

The title track starts everything off. Brad is an exquisite guitar player, hitting harmonics and noodling his way into this funky rhythmic bounce of a song. Totally organic sounding, the song is heavy enough to dance to, which is impressive for an acoustic group without a drum kit.

“Stomp” sounds amazing in headphones, panned lovingly between guitar and banjo (used here with the utmost grace). Handclaps take it to the next level, elevating into a hoedown, but not hokey and not out of synch with the rest of the album. Heavy slide guitar makes the jam even groovier.

There is, in fact, no bad songs on Greene Street, a near miracle for an instrumental album; perhaps because no song is longer than three and a half minutes, some not even two. The album soars by elegantly, such as on “Chesapeake”, with cello playing the melody on the upper frets. The band tackles a hundred emotions in one song, growing quiet and meditative and then energetic, without ever feeling disjointed.

“Further East” touches on Middle Eastern arrangements, but restrained, holding on to that blitzkrieg sound that is notably Brad Hammonds Group. Down to the last track, “Summer Feel”, with its complex finger work and excellent use of layers, Greene Street is full of humor, beauty, and talent. I highly recommend this album to, well, everyone. - Angelika Music

The Brad Hammonds Group is an unusual string quartet that consists of guitarist Brad Hammonds, cellist Will Maritna, percussionist Mathias Kunzli and bassist Jason DiMatteo. They released their debut album, Greene Street, this July. It is an electic collection of ten virtuoso instrumental tracks that combine elements of bluegrass, folk, classical, chamber, jazz, acoustic rock, Americana and World music. Hammonds’ guitar work is masterful as he plays progressions at a rip-neck pace, changes genres or solemnly leads an instrumental game of tag. The sound is unadulterated, sophisticated and cerebral, but does not require coat and tie or tuxedos. The album provides a musical style and genre synthesis, with novel sonic surprises, that compels this listener to listen attentively. - Ripple Effect

Brad Hammonds and his group explore acoustic instrumental music with a global outlook. Their new record, Greene Street, reveals a spontaneous approach with a talented roster of musicians. Brad’s guitar is accompanied by Will Martina on cello (Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber), Mathias Kunzli on percussion (Regina Spektor) and Jason DiMatteo on bass (Burnt Sugar). Known for his quicksilver guitar playing, Brad Hammonds effortlessly moves from folk to bluegrass to Middle Eastern beats to Celtic riffs in the blink of an eye. “It’s bizarre,” Hammonds laughs. “I don’t know where it comes from. I’m a white guy from Delaware, but I write world folk-rock.” Studying the drums while growing up influenced the percussive technique Hammonds uses on his guitar today.

“A lot of the time signature shifts and techniques I use come from studying the drums. I’m trying to play the drums and the guitar at the same time. I break a string nine times out of ten when I play.” – Brad Hammonds

When Hammonds, Martina, Kunzli and DiMatteo got into the studio, their ideas came together quickly. An open tuning or a piece of a melody led one note to another as the songs practically wrote themselves. By avoiding any unnecessary overdubs, Greene Street maintains a nice, organic sound throughout. This free but thoughtful and textured set of songs will impress you with their ambition. The acoustic drive of this music prevails as Brad Hammonds and his group roll through rootsy grooves and rocking reels while feeding musical ideas off each other. Listen to a selection of tracks from Greene Street above or at bandcamp. Brad Hammonds will be at The Friars Club on Thursday, August 2nd and Caffe Vivaldi on Wednesday, August 8th. - Splinters and Candy

Comparisons to Leo Kottke and the late Michael Hedges spring to mind when listening to Hammonds’ dazzling fretwork throughout this original instrumental set, though the New York-based guitarist is neither as whimsical as Kottke nor as brooding as Hedges. Rhythmic momentum never wanes and the resonant bass-cello-percussion instrumentation expands on Hammonds’ warm, full tone as he and a superb ensemble wend their way through Celtic reels, acoustic rock, bluegrass, swingy jazz — often within one riff-studded composition.
- Pasadena Weekly

"Brad is a strong player in the Richard Thompson tradition, with a beautifully hypnotic approach." - Vernon Reid (Living Colour)

BRAD HAMMONDS GROUP/Greene Street: A sure handed guitarist that knows how to give everyone else some, Hammonds and pals expand the musical vocabulary of gypsy jazz/nu flamenco in a sweeping style with chops to spare. Sprinkled with rock energy, roots vibes and a good time energy, this is nu organic instrumental music that hits a lot of bases as it goes along it's way and covers them just fine. Possibly not for moldy figs that haven't entered the new, multi culti world where almost everything is a mash up, even they might be smitten by this music's charms and face the future head on. Tasty, wonderful stuff that only sour pusses won't like. - MidWest Record

That freshness and spontaneous vitality reverberate on Greene Street, a beautifully textured acoustic instrumental album with rock drive. Joined at his intimate downtown studio by close friends and wildly creative collaborators, Hammonds exhibits his trademark depth and flair for thoughtfully deployed technique.

With top improvisers and interpreters Will Martina (cello; Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber), Mathias Kunzli (percussion; Regina Spektor) and Jason DiMatteo (bass; Burnt Sugar), Hammonds explores rolling Celtic lines inspired by Led Zeppelin, Middle Eastern beats, and flamenco flourishes. The band revels in modal lines, shifting time signatures, and expansive solos, without losing their musical momentum.

Hammonds’ quicksilver fingers and percussive playing range and rove, but the New York-based musician and composer never strays from the center: the grounded stillness of a calm, open mind. “I always come back to the interesting fact that all thought is elusive,” Hammonds, a trained psychologist as well as crack musician, reflects. “We just have this moment. I try to get into that space before writing.”

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The drums were Hammonds’ first love and his first instrument growing up, a fact that has shaped his approach to the guitar. “A lot of the time signature shifts and techniques I use come from studying the drums,” Hammonds explains with a smile. “I’m trying to play the drums and the guitar at the same time. I break a string nine times out of ten when I play.”

But in a good-natured sibling rivalry with his guitar-wielding twin brother, Hammonds decided he would take up the instrument, too. Yet instead of learning other people’s tunes, he dove into writing his own. He listened to everything—from Ani DiFranco and Shakti to Metallica and Tool—and took it all in.

But what came out was unexpected: “It’s bizarre,” Hammonds laughs. “I don’t know where it comes from. I’m a white guy from Delaware, but I write world folk-rock.”

Hammonds put this unanticipated tendency to good use, touring the U.S. college circuit as half of the passionate Brazz Tree, playing gig after gig and perfecting his craft. But after several years, Hammonds was ready to work on his own solo material without the stress of life on the road or internal band politics.

Greene Street came about after Hammonds decided to engage more with the instrumental he loved. The pieces came easily, sometimes simply flowing out of an open tuning or snatch of melody. “It was the most seamless project I’ve ever done, in terms of getting material down,” Hammonds notes. “It wrote itself.”

The complexity of the compositions belies that ease. “If This, Then That” is a blazing, multi-part romp that moves fluidly from rootsy, upbeat grooves to pensive, open moments peppered with sharp percussion. “Ryan the Lion,” a tribute to Hammonds’ young son, is a merry mix of British Isles nimbleness and Mediterranean grit. “Stomp” pulses like a reel, but with bluesy slides and an engaging percussive wallop.

The vitality and sparkling energy of the tracks are a product not only of Hammonds’ clever composing, but also of the group’s esprit de corps. Recording live at Hammonds’ Greene Street studio, the quartet avoided overdubs and edits whenever possible. “We really didn’t want to edit too much. We wanted a nice live feel,” says Hammonds.

Though some of the pieces provided true challenges—“Further East” and “The Fly” took dozens of takes to get just right—the band came together naturally, in a spirit of genuine camaraderie. While Martina’s cello adds a lyrical richness to the music, Kunzli flew off into fanciful places, using everything from Tibetan bells to vocal percussion, as DiMatteo easily fell into the sweet, grounded pocket.

The result has both depth and whimsy, with Hammonds’ intense playing at its grounded center. Like the fleeting path of thoughts, Greene Street’s songs may run and leap, but they never lose their core focus. “It’s a g - World Music Wire

I’m not sure if it’s the composing pen of someone who’s soaked in Ani DeFranco, Tool, Metallica and Shakti, or the insertion of an electric bass among all those acoutsic string instruments or the creative rhythms or the inclusion of Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber players, but there’s definitely something a little different about acoustic guitarist Brad Hammonds’ music. For his upcoming album Greene Street, he decided to cobble together a quartet of musicians who can help him create a set of instrumental music that would better exploit his acoustic guitar skills and an eclectic songwriting background. The Brad Hammonds Group is thus made up of Hammonds, cellist Will Martina, bassist Jason DiMatteo and percussionist Mathias Kunzli (Nick Russo adds banjo and mandolin where needed).

You could call this music “bluegrass,” but at times it’s by default. Hammonds can redirect his very capable band to so many parts of the country and of the world: there’s the bluesy, hoedown thump of “Stomp,” the Appalachia symphony of “Chesapeake,” and the multi-mood “If This, Then That” (see Youtube below). But it’s not all Americana; “Parisian is a modern take on the prewar French swing of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, “Further East” has a Middle-Eastern flair, “Summer Feel” feels like European chamber music and “Ryan The Lion” appears to blend Celtic with North African folk music. Everywhere on this album, Kunzli’s percussion adds another kick in the pants to these tunes: as a drummer first, Hammonds understands rhythmic concepts first hand and allowed his percussionist to play bolder than what’s usually allowed in these kind of settings. The Brad Hammonds Group, however, don’t approach anything in a necessarily conventional way, yet it all somehow comes together impulsively with a rich composite sound. Not too unfamiliar but definitely not rote, Hammonds is onto something good, here.
- Something Else Reviews!

The effervescent world folk music of guitarist Brad Hammonds adds another dimension to the world of music with his fellow bandmates. The folk guitarist composes instrumental guitar jams that are accompanied by cello, banjo, mandolin, bass, and percussion. The lightning fast acoustic picking is top-notch and readily processed by all who listen to it's twinkling melodies. The folk percussion and Brad's 12 and 6-string guitars add a little Appalachian splendor to the mix. The ten tracks represent a lush collection of emotive compositions are fun to listen to and each one reveals something new with every listen. Fans of Ben Bowen King, Bob Brozman, European/Celtic traditions, and instrumental guitar-folk music will love it. ~ Matthew Forss - Inside World Music

Shoulders of Giants: Shoulders of Giants
Brad Hammonds has been performing as a solo artist for a while now and as part of the duo known as Brazz Tree. Coming off his first solo release, Hammonds partnered up with New York singer and guitarist Tom Crowley to form Shoulders of Giants and released their self titled album last July.
The focus of the album is two acoustic guitars, but the group does use accompanying instruments like double bass, drums, and surprisingly a cello complete the group. The result is quite uplifting.
The music is bluesy folk reminiscent of female acts like The Murmurs, Ani DiFranco, and early Jewel. Acoustic guitars, not always with a backing band, and powerful voices are what these women were known for. Shoulders of Giants are like the male version of these artists.
Hammonds and Crowley play well together, each quite a talent on the guitar. Crowley’s voice is one of the best I’ve heard; he seems to have a natural gift for singing as when he does it appears to be effortless. You pick up on it right from the opening track “Code of a Mad Man” but it is best displayed on “She’s in Love”.
All the songs were written by Hammonds but “She’s in Love” was co-arranged by Crowley. Perhaps that’s why Crowley takes more command of it than the others. On top of the singing, the song is very well done with the guitars taking off on bluesy trails and the cello intermingling with them. Most surprising is the way the song comes together without one amp. I’ve become accustomed to a blues guitarist having his or her way with an electric guitar; Crowley and Hammonds do it unplugged.
Overall, Shoulders of Giants is a very good album. You have a talented singer, talented musicians, and minimal tricks on production to cover up any weaknesses. The songs aren’t always the cheeriest, but they do make you feel good. They’ll inspire you, as well. And that’s what real art is supposed to do. It makes you think, and gives you ideas. - Surviving the Golden Age

Shoulders of Giants sees acoustic guitarist/ singer/songwriter Brad Hammonds – who has earned a reputation as a great and inventive player, both solo and as part of his duo Brazz Tree-coming into his own as a songwriter with his latest project featuring vocalist, guitarist Tom Crowley.

From the addictively hypnotic “Code of a Mad Man” to the sweeping “Through it All,” Shoulders of Giants neither wavers nor fails to captivate the listeners with riveting guitar rhythms and imaginative song lyrics. “Your conformity conforms me to never change/ But I’ll engage you/And we’ll make it through/ What doesn’t kill us, makes us weaker so we won’t choose,” gushes Crowley in the mesmeric “Fade Away.” “I Feel Awake While I Am Dreaming”—the band’s lead single-is a breezy, guitar-driven song that is equally thrilling alongside Crowley’s seductive vocals.

Hammonds, who is at the helm of this musical collaboration, is no stranger to the New York music scene. Dubbed by critics as a guitarist with exceptional virtuoso.”Brad is a strong player in the Richard Thompson tradition, with a beautifully hypnotic approach,” says Vernon Reid. “Brad, undoubtedly has the fastest fingers in the east,” adds Dian Hall, Music Director of Union Hall.
“I have never, never, ever seen fingers fly up and down the neck of a guitar at this sort of break-neck speed.”

The guitarist has performed in numerous bands in Virginia, Chicago and New York, including projects with bassist Jason DiMatteo (Chocolate Genius), drummer John Bollinger (Antony and the Johnsons), and the eclectic violin-guitar act Brazz Tree with violinist Mazz Swift to which Hammonds is best known for. The duo performed at venues such as The Blue Note, The

Symphony Space, The Living Room, Joes’ Pub, Rockwood Music Hall and BAM Café to a loyal following. After his stint with Brazz Tree, Hammonds sought to record more accessible music.

“In the last six years of Brazz Tree, we’ve done a lot of complex things,” he said. “I just felt the need to make it as organic, stripped down and as simplified as possible.”

Released in 2009, Hammonds debut album Through It All, undoubtedly is the sound of an artist discovering another enormous facet of his talent including his incomparable songwriting abilities. On his latest musical venture with Shoulders of Giants, his imaginative guitar playing coalesces precisely with that of band mate Crowley’s vocals. Together, the pair has created music that is multifaceted yet singular— showcasing everything from soothing orchestration to charming harmonization. The band’s other counterparts include Dave Wilkie (Drums), Marika Hughes (Cello), Jason Dimatteo (Bass) and Benjamin Bell (Bass).
- Ventvox

Fans of his ferocious guitar playing, imaginative lyrics and ability to create a cacophony of sounds with apparent ease will be delighted to hear that Brad Hammonds’ new incarnation, Shoulders of Giants, maintains all the elements that made his first solo album such a success. In a move that re-enforces his ability to combine meaningful words with uplifting sounds Hammonds has recruited the voice of New York based guitarist and vocalist Tom Crowley, an addition that gives depth to the music as well as perspective to the lyrics.

Read the rest of the review at Hubbub UK
- Hubub Music UK

Brad Hammonds is an amazing guitarist who has recently decided to expand his talents to singing. What you get is a Singer/Songwriter who creates beautiful music that will certainly make you an instant fan. Some of Brad's biggest appeals come from his soulful jazz rock tunes, beautiful lyrics, and sensational vocals. - Junior's Cave Online

"Hammonds is an exceptional guitarist" - Listeners Generation

"Brad, undoubtedly has the fastest fingers in the east. I have never, never, ever seen fingers fly up and down the neck of a guitar at this sort of break-neck speed.” - Dian Hall

Which brings me to my choice for today’s Single of the Day. Brad Hammonds has a song called Through It All. The moment I heard his voice I started thinking wow, if Peter Gabriel changed his style this might be it. Of course Brad lists Peter as an influence. It really shows in this song....

I really like the rhythm Brad is setting forth with the guitar. It’s slightly celtic in the vibe. Though it is nice and flowing. There’s a lot of movement going on all over the place in the song. The bass, multiple guitars, maybe a mandolin and some other things in there. The drums are grooving along with a more musical sense of groove which is cool.

The venue I went to yesterday in Ventura is really making a name for itself. In fact after my friend and I played Colby Caillat was playing. It’s that hip. The manager liked me and it looks like I could be heading up the stage there myself before too long. If Brad were a west coaster, I’d say this song would net him a gig there too.

Diggin the flow? Then go get Brad and make yourself happy. I’m sure it will make him happy too and through it all, you be a new found synergy. - About the Ears Podcast

Fans of his ferocious guitar playing, imaginative lyrics and ability to create a cacophony of sounds with apparent ease will be delighted to hear that Brad Hammonds’ new incarnation, Shoulders of Giants, maintains all the elements that made his first solo album such a success. In a move that re-enforces his ability to combine meaningful words with uplifting sounds Hammonds has recruited the voice of New York based guitarist and vocalist Tom Crowley, an addition that gives depth to the music as well as perspective to the lyrics. Opening with “Code of a Mad Man”, a two minute masterpiece which not only introduces the listener to the haunting vocals of Crowley and how they gel with the riveting guitar of Hammonds, it also sets the stage for the hypnotic and rhythmic performance that is to follow. The delightfully chipper “I Feel awake Whilst Dreaming” shows off the majestical chemistry between the two as the guitars work in tandem seamlessly. The darker side of Hammonds as a song writer is never far away and this is evident in “Fade Away” with lines such as, “What doesn’t kill us makes us weaker, so we won’t choose”. The catchy, ballad like, “She’s in Love”, is the album’s crown jewel and is just made for listening to whilst cruising down an open road on a summer evening. With bitter-sweet lyrics of loving and losing Crowley has the perfect opportunity to show off his vocal talents and prove just why he was the man for this job, a chance which he does not let pass him by. The guitar harmony is backed up by a supporting cast of Dave Wilkie on drums and Marika Hughes playing Cello along with a bass duo of Ben Bell and Jason DiMatteo, whose use of both electric and upright between them offers yet more versatility. This release manages to strip music back to the bare bones whilst still managing to create a myriad of melodies, rhythm, harmony and feeling, using the key ingredients of strings, percussion and most importantly good old fashioned talent. Shoulders of Giants is a project of progression rather than a complete transformation, something which we should be glad, because as the saying goes, if it aint broke, don’t fix it. - HUBUB UK

Shoulders of Giants is a collaboration between extremely gifted New York musicians Brad Hammonds and Tom Crowley. Their debut album will be released in the spring of 2010 following Hammonds’ solo release.... The addition of Crowley’s incredibly powerful vocals to Hammonds’ unique guitar style along with a heavier string sound mean the new release will be hotly anticipated. Keep in touch with Hubbub for more info.... - HUBUB UK


- Brad Hammonds Group- 'Above the Crowd'
July 2013

- Brad Hammonds Group: 'Greene Street' (Instrumental)
July 2012

- Brad Hammonds: 'Through it All'
July 2010



"Plenty of intensity drives the all-instrumental masterwork of the Brad Hammonds Group who combine Spanish-influenced jazz, French-tinged dance reels, Roots, Rock and neo-folk... It’s some of the best-crafted music of its kind."

Brad has played hundreds of shows across the country including NYC venues such as The Blue Note, The Symphony Space, The Living Room, Joes' Pub, The Whitney Museum, BAM CafĂŠ, SXSW and was voted one of WNYC's soundcheck's best live performances. Brad has toured professionally for years throughout the country playing college and universities, theaters, cafes, art houses and house concerts. Hammonds has toured internationally as well. 

Brad's music has appeared on TV/Movies including "The Mindy Project," "Revenge," "VH1" and many others.
His cover of Take Me To Church with Hannah Gill was called "brilliant" by VH1. His song "I Feel Awake" won the MTVu Freshman competition.

Brad recently signed a record deal to Guitarmonk Records in India.

Hammonds plays with a variety of players from violinists to tabla players.

Band Members