Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans
Twice As Nice
Man Hat Tone Records
Bassist Brad Vickers apprenticed with Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins. As the bass player in Little Mike & The Tornadoes he appears on 1988’s “Pinetop Perkins with Little Mike and The Tornadoes After Hours” and also on 1990’s “Heart Attack”. Sometime thereafter he left that band. In 2008 Vickers switched to guitar and partnered with bassist Margery Peters to form Brad Vickers and The Vestapolitans and released their debut album “Le Blues Hot”. Brad Vickers and The Vestapolitans released four more albums the last being 2015’s “That’s What They Say”. This is their sixth recording.
The current band lineup includes Vickers, guitar and vocals; Peters, bass and vocals; drummer Bill Rankin, and saxophonist Jim Davis. Special guests include Charlie Burnham, violin; Dave Gross, guitar; Mikey Junior, harp and vocal; Dave Keyes, piano and organ; Dean Shot, guitar; and producer V.D. King, on an assortment of instruments.
The word “Vestapolitans” is defined to mean “household gods” and the band preserves the blues, folk and roots music that we grew up listening to. The band mixes their own originals with selected covers. The opening track “Worried Life Blues” credited to Big Maceo Merriweather was recorded by him in 1941. The song was based on an earlier one by Sleepy John Estes. Included is the lyric “someday baby, I ain’t gonna worry my life anymore”. Guesting are guitarist Shot, pianist Keyes, and King on baritone sax. “Close Together” was written and recorded by Jimmy Reed in 1960; on the new version Mikey Jr. is added on harp. “Stealin’ Stealin’” is from William Shade, the leader of the Memphis Jug Band, who first recorded the song in 1928 “pretty mama don’t you tell on me, I’m stealin’ back to my same old used to be”; featured again is Mikey Jr. on harp as he shares the vocal with Peters; and King on both banjolele and baritone sax. “Look A There, Look A There” written by Hudson Whitaker a.k.a. Tampa Red was first recorded in 1952; the vocal features Mikey Jr., Vickers and Peters. The Vestapolitans revere the originals and reprise these songs.
Vickers and Peters are students of these traditions and create their own originals in the style of the masters. Vickers wrote “Mississippi Swamp” with the lyric “searchin’ for my baby, don’t know where she’s gone…so I’m down in Mississippi that’s where she comes from”; and “Red Dust” another vocal duet with Peters which he sings while playing bottleneck guitar. Peters contributes “Love Can Win”; the rockin’ back roads are better “Coast To Coast” sung by Vickers and performed with twin saxes and Keyes on the ivories; “I got a sweet little girl, I got Everything I Need” with some great guitar from Vickers; the sweet “Brooklyn Evenings” in the summer time, with egg creams, and Burnham on violin; and the title track “Twice As Nice” wonderfully sung by her with Davis switching to clarinet “you can keep your life of virtue I prefer a life of sin…come here daddy let me sit down on your knee, what’s good for you is twice as nice for me”.
It’s a fun time catching up with the preservation society known as Brad Vickers and The Vestapolitans. This album should raise their profile; it’s that good.