Reno, NV…With Veteran’s Day less than two weeks away, Americans are reminded to honor and memorialize those who serve, and have served, in the military. While each of us will say “thanks” in our own style this November 11th, whether it be to fly the American flag or silently salute, one local troubadour will utilize his knack for music and love for country to give back to the Reno Veterans Affairs in a very personal way.
Leopold Stokowski once said, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” Using an acoustic guitar as his paintbrush, colorful vocals as his paint, and the journey of life as his muse, Stevie Bradford has been “painting” the Reno area for nearly 2 years. During that time, many strangers-turned-fans have discovered Stevie during one of his gigs in a local bar, restaurant, or lounge. Those who have had that good fortune have often found themselves shaking their hips to his lively rendition of “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughn, tearing up to his soulful performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” or falling in love to his enchanting version of “Crazy Love,” by Van Morrison. This Veteran’s Day, though, in celebration of releasing his first CD, titled “Something New… Again,” Stevie will give his favorite covers an evening of rest as he graces us with a live performance of purely original music. As he prepares for this monumental step in his life, Stevie reminisces about his past, and the adventure which lead him to this momentous opportunity.
It was his father, songwriter Wayne Bradford, who introduced him to his first guitar chords. “A few years later, when I first switched to electric guitar, like all kids do at some point,” Stevie shares, “I bought Zeppelin’s [albums] one through four and Jimi Hendrix’ Smash Hits, and just locked myself in my room until I learned the music.” Stevie has since switched back to primarily playing acoustic guitar, and, though he notes Tom Waits and Kelly Joe Phelps as two of his all-time favorite artists, when it comes to songwriting, he is “inspired more by life than by other musicians.” This is no surprise, considering the life he has lived. He joined the Marine Corps at the age of 18, and was later stationed in Okinawa, Japan. “I lived in Okinawa for 16 years. The first two and a half of those were in the Marine Corps. When I got out of the Corps, I just stayed there. I was playing music for the troops, travelling all around Asia and the Middle East. It was a great experience, but I finally just got tired of it. I got tired of the road and all that. So I bought a bar.” Stevie stops and laughs for a moment before continuing to share his story. ”It was a great little hookah bar that the troops would come into to hang out. Then I sold that bar five years ago, came back to the states, and suddenly I was a homeless vet. I travelled around the U.S., visiting the friends I had made overseas, just trying to find home. Then, I came to Reno.” When asked why he chose Reno as his final destination, Stevie simply replies, “Fate brought me.” While it is remarkable listening to him tell tales of his travels, it is even more exceptional to hear him speak of the deep gratitude which he feels toward the V.A. Hospital in Reno. “When I got to Reno, I was pretty broke. I didn’t have any friends here, no job, no leads or anything, and the V.A. was there for me, in any way I needed them. They helped me.” It is the support Stevie received from the V.A. which helped inspire him to not only move forward with his musical career, but to use his acoustic aptitude as a tool with which to give back.
Stevie’s CD release celebration will take place at 7pm on Friday, November 11th, at Steinway Piano Gallery in Reno. He will be performing original songs from “Something New… Again,” most of which would fall into “Americana” or “Roots Rock” genre. In addition to setting up a donation box, where guests may give contributions to the Reno V.A., Stevie will be personally donating 20% of all proceeds made through ticket and CD sales to the Reno Veterans Affairs.
Whether they are already fans of his music, or are looking forward to hearing it for the first time, all those who attend Stevie Bradford’s CD release celebration are sure to leave with a sense of pride, community, and patriotism, knowing that their attendance helped support a local artist while contributing to the wellness of our beloved veterans.
***For more information on this event, or for more of Stevie’s music, find him on Facebook. Search: “Steve Bradford.”