Brad Peterson
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Brad Peterson

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The best kept secret in music


"The Chicago Tribune"

Andy Downing
Published November 4, 2005
Though in the `Red,' Peterson no longer starving artist

As a 25 year old, singer/songwriter Brad Peterson discovered how difficult making a living in the music industry can be. He toured as a solo artist in the early '90s, even performing a show at CB's 313 Gallery in New York with a then-unknown singer named Jeff Buckley, and traded verses on Van Morrison's "Sweet Thing." In the mid-'90s, his band Peat Moss signed with Surf Records and released its first album, "Pale, Pale Ale."

Soon after, problems with the label caused Peterson to dissolve the band and distance himself from the music business. He took a 9-to-5 job in Chicago utilizing his engineering and technical skills and made enough money to buy a modest condo in the city--a far cry from scraping by on the $4,000 a year he made as a professional musician.

That 1997 dissolution of Peat Moss was the last music fans heard of the singer until a recent flurry of activity culminated in the release of "The Red Album," his first official album in more than eight years.

"Ten years ago, I was an artist on a label--and that label needed to sell copies of my record and I needed to tour to survive," says Peterson, now in his mid-30s. "One can't help but feel the pressure from the label and the cost of living. I needed to be able to live at something other than a sub-poverty level.

"But something more important that I got out of it was that not living on your art frees you to make art exactly the way you want it to be."

Steve Dawson, singer/guitarist for Dolly Varden, recalls playing shows with Peat Moss in the mid-'90s. It's been too long since Peterson released an album, Dawson says. "I think he's got an incredible voice. It's just elastic. I love the way his range is so flexible."

That range is on full display on "The Red Album," a pop gem that sits comfortably next to releases by like-minded artists Brendan Benson and Josh Rouse. Songs careen between melancholy ("Beat Myself Up"), romance ("Cherchez La Femme") and frisky wordplay ("A Study in Red") with only a single thread connecting them--the color red.

The album has been a side project since a 1998 trip to Madrid that had Peterson quite literally seeing red. "We befriended a group of young men and they would take us out drinking every night after we played," says Peterson. "The last night, we went to this place called El Sol. I remember being in there and every light was red. Since we were in Spain, that got me thinking about Pablo Picasso's Blue Period and his famous painting of the blue guitarist.

"That basically started a red period for me. I noticed myself buying red shirts and red sweaters. My eyes started going red."

He penned the song "If the Devil Apologized" in a hotel room in Spain and eventually recorded a self-titled album that he passed out to friends free of charge. Now, for the first time in nearly a decade, Peterson is ready for his music to reach a wider audience with the second effort from that creative outpouring.

"I guess I missed the feeling that comes with putting out a finished product," says Peterson. "And there's a difference between being an artist then and being an artist now. Now it's a lot more pure."

Brad Peterson, 9 p.m. Friday, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave. $8-10; 773-525-2508. - The Chicago Tribune

"Chicago Reader"

Chicago Reader
Bob Mehr
November 25, 2005
Record Release Roundup

Brad Peterson | BP Labs Music
Major-label imprints like Elton John's Rocket Records courted Brad Peterson's old band Peat Moss, but those flirtations led nowhere and he dissolved the group in the late 90s. This self-titled disc, which he's calling "The Red Album," is his only output since (excepting a promo-only CD of solo demos in 2002), but he hasn't reinvented himself during his years of silence: he's sticking with the same sort of well-crafted pop he played in Peat Moss. The new album is polite and conservative, all Beatles hooks and light confectionery, but despite missteps like the cocktail-jazz snoozer "Nine," its charming melodies are enough to make it worth a second listen -- "I Die at the End," one of the high points, even sounds a bit like the home recordings on Paul McCartney's first solo LP. - Chicago Reader


Music listings
January 25, 2006
BRAD PETERSON (Red Star "recommended or notable")

Peterson's debut, The Red Album, shouldn't be as good as it is. Beautiful Beatlesque oohs and ahhs peek out behind home-spun acoustic guitar-and-drum combos that would make Frisbie rethink its career in power-pop. All of this is nothing though, compared to Peterson's alleged backstory: He was hit by lightning several years ago, went into a coma, emerged some 30 weeks later, and wrote most of this album in about a week. If it's true, this could rightfully be called a miracle of an album.

"Chicago Sun Times"

Chicago Sun Times
Club hopping
November 4, 2005

The local singer-songwriter's new self-titled album was partially inspired by a near-death experience: Peterson was struck by lightening, resulting in a 39-week coma. The collection of rootsy pop songs showcases his cool vocals and Dylan-esque songwriting. The Bon Mots and Office open at 9 tonight at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. Tickets, $10. Call (773) 525-2508. --MH - Chicago Sun Times

"The Chicagoist"

The Chicagoist
Tankboy in Music
September 30, 2005
Slow And Steady Wins The Race

A few years ago we were booking a local club and, as usually happens when booking a local club, we were talking to a local booking agent. He was expounding on how terrific this dude he was representing was. He kept likening the dude to Uncle Tupelo with better vocals. He kept talking about the dude like he was God or something. This is what booking agents do. Usually we would have dismissed all of this if it weren’t for the fact that the local booking agent also had a band and he wanted his band to open for this dude who was like God or something.

This changed things. A booking agent doesn’t want to be at the scene of the crime when some band he’s duped you into booking stinks up the place so we decided to go ahead and book the show.

Well, the dude the booking agent was obsessed about wasn’t next to God but he was awfully goddamned good and his name was Brad Peterson. He and his band played a sweetly dramatic type of music (that, by the way sounded nothing like Uncle Tupelo) and stunned us with just how far out they had broken when it came to the sounds of the local scene at the time. They weren’t prog, punk, country or funk; he and his band were just damn good.

Peterson played another show or two at the club we booked, opened for a high profile act or two…and then he promptly disappeared for a few years.

Recently he popped back up in the public eye with a new album under his arm and a new band behind him. The songwriting that struck us so much a few years ago has matured into an altogether different and more powerful beast. The drama of the compositions is intensified and the presence of the singer is magnetic. Peterson’s new songs burn slow and hot as magnesium so whatever Peterson was doing all those years out of the public eye was definitely for the best as far as the local – and eventually the undoubtedly national – music scene is concerned.

Peterson has been playing a number of shows leading up to the release of his stunning new disc The Red Album and tonight he and his band will be performing at Martyr’s for a “pre-release� show. The album won’t be available for sale at the show but a number of copies will be given away to lucky concert attendees. We recommend you catch Peterson now because we don’t think he’ll be playing intimate settings like tonight’s for very much longer. - The Chicagoist


The Red Album


Feeling a bit camera shy


Brad Peterson Facts and Stuff
Brad Peterson invites you to hear his most heartfelt and melodically compelling body of work to date:

The Red Album:
Steeped in warm tones, evocative lyrical imagery and haunting melodies, The Red Album succeeds in channeling some of the great recordings of the 60's, with a wistful and bittersweet touch. Lyrically, The Red Album draws on memories over the course of Brad's life - giving voice to the songwriter's creative vision.

Having spent much of the last several years -devoting his time to producing and recording fellow artists, BP has just recently thrown himself back into his own orbit. With the Red Album, Peterson emerges with an honest enthusiasm and vocal power. Listen to The Red Album and you will hear a songwriter who truly is wearing his heart on his sleeve.

As a founding member of critically acclaimed, college radio darlings "Peatmoss" in the mid-90s, Brad has toured and played with Jeff Buckley, Cake, The Wallflowers, Alanis Morrisette and The Dave Matthews Band - to name a few. In performance settings ranging from solo acoustic to full band, Brad has cultivated a loyal grass roots following, from LA's Viper Room to New York's CBGBs (and many points in between).

The thrilling band playing live with Brad these days includes Grammy-award winner (and member of Keith Richards' band) John Pirrucello on pedal-steel guitar, drummer Larry Beers (formerly, Sonia Dada), the excellent Mike Troglia on guitar and brother Ted Peterson on bass and backing vocals.

About Brad's music:
Time Out: "a miracle of an album."
Chicago Tribune: "a pop gem"
Jeff Buckley: "Brad has an amazing voice"
Chicago Reader: "Excruciatingly tasteful and pretty"
Chicago Tribune: "The band to hear"
All Music Guide: "Peterson's voice takes on a certain raspy delicacy"
Daily Herald: "energetic, soul-powered vocals"
The Chicagoist: "Peterson's new songs burn slow and hot as magnesium"
Chicago Sun Times: "cool vocals and Dylan-esque songwriting"