|Youtube music videos:||Click here, or at video link at top of page||Link to Bluewaters/Newport photos|
Link to INBMA photos
Link to my musical autobiography
|Old Plank Road|
|The Kevin Pace band|
links to Youtube playlist of
their Aug. 2022 concert
which I recorded at their request
|My associated webpage with links to each song|
with links to Youtube versions
|Detailed photo and historical coverage of Uncle Willie and the Brandy Snifters|
|Remembrance of Uncle Willie and the Brandy Snifters by Bud Claeson: Oldtime Minnesota band|
|Pankake and Dylan rumble over record theft, musical persona, in 1960's|
Also Kids Songs
with links to Youtube versions
Kids gospel songs
of classic hymns
Completely Different CD
Musicians Anonymous Old-time Music ensemble
|Sondahl and Hawkins musical
(some original Mp3's and some Youtube videos)
|Sondahl, Hawkins, and Thomsen|
Sacred Ground, sacred music for folk instruments CD
Christmas music on Folk Instruments CD
|Guide to all of Brad's CD's
Guide to Brad's musical videos
|Music Photos including Ratdog and Buddy Guy|
|Tribute to old time musicians
Sam and Kirk McGee
with 5 Sondahl solo guitar mp3's
|Musical play: Diner
original musical with synopsis, text, songs
|MP3 page with links to all the mp3's on my site|
|The Onlies at Bluewaters 2022
||Photos from Bluewaters
Bluegrass 2005 Festival
2013 Newport Music Festival
2014 Newport Music Festival
2017 Kettle Falls Camp and Jam
|Visit the video link at the top of the page for
videos of many of my original compositions and arrangements...
Bluegrass photos from INBMA Thang/Showcase
The Thang, April 2007
Misty River Bluegrass, 2008
INBA Showcase November 2011
My musical autobiography:
I woke up this morning and my mind (was set on freedom). No wait,
that's a gospel song that popped into my head when I started with "I
woke up this morning." Actually I woke up thinking I'd like to
tell whoever's interested my musical autobiography. The first
records I bought with my own money were two cut-out (discount) records
by Lightnin Hopkins--Autobiography in Blues and Coffee House Blues.
It was the title "Autobiography in Blues" that got me thinking
about my own musical autobiography (and I encourage my musical friends
to post theirs).
My earliest memories go back to Brookings, South Dakota, and our family's small but diverse record collection. We had some classical (including the wonderfully strong melodies of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacht Musik, the Firebird Suite, and The Nutcracker), a Spike Jones 45 (The daring young man on the flying trapeze and Bubblegum), as as the 60's rolled in a couple new ones appeared, like Tom Lehrer (ate that up), musicals like Camelot, The Music Man, and My Fair Lady, and the Dave Clark Five (probably my brother's influence--5 years older than me and into rock and blues). My sister was also a big influence with the few albums she bought and left in our big console stereo--Peter Paul and Mary, The New Christy Minstrels, and the Kingston Trio giving me a second hand introduction to folk music; and Barbara Streisand introducing me to the great American songbook.
We also listened a lot to the local AM station, KBRK, which had polkas for milking by (6 Fat Dutchmen Too Fat Polka, for instance) and music ranging from big band to country and western. We went to the local Lutheran Church regularly and I absorbed the great hymns from that tradition by osmosis. That was as close to an indigenous culture for me to soak up, so if I lack authenticity I came by it naturally. ;-)
I started to play piano around age 6--took lessons for 3 years but never could figure out how to read music fast enough to actually play it with both hands. So after I quit lessons I'd sometimes doink around picking out Tijuana Brass and other melodies with my right hand. That was my music playing experience until high school, when I took up the harmonica...
I watched a lot of TV as a child, absorbed music from the variety shows as well as being a fan of the Monkees when they were assembled. The first album I asked for and got was the Monkees album. I understand now how they were just put together for the TV show and mostly couldn't play, but some of their songs still sound pretty good to me... I managed to miss the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show-- became aware of them when other kids were singing "Yellow Submarine" in junior high, as well as overplayed songs like "Michelle" on the radio.
I moved to Ames, Iowa after 8th grade, a larger town with a K-Mart, which was new and exciting to me after having two dime stores with no records in them in Brookings. I worked summers weeding experimental fields for Iowa State U, starting around $2.50 an hour, so I had some funds to start buying records, and the low prices of the cut-outs (discounts) at K-Mart appealed to me, as well as their more unusual fare... Besides the Lightnin Hopkins, I got Dave Van Ronk, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Brownie and Sonny, all discounted because the folk scene was collapsing under the electric rock and roll onslaught. Meanwhile FM radio was coming into its own, playing top 40 music that included Hendrix, the Doors, Janis Joplin, and the Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead, and I was not immune to their charms. After midnight you could hear Bleeker Street on a clear channel AM radio, I think out of Little Rock, with lots of spacy rock music. But I was also drawn to the Chicago blues--Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Otis Spann. For the high school paper I wrote columns about the way rock musicians like Led Zeppelin ripped off bluesmen like Sonny Boy Williamson without attribution. It was Butterfield and Williamson that inspired me to take up the harmonica.
While in high school, I made two critical visits to my brother in college. The first was to Chicago when he was doing a summer internship, and he took me to see Johnny and Edgar Winter and Paul Butterfield, cementing my love of the blues. The second was to the St. Olaf Folk Festival, with Mike Seeger as the headliner. I'd heard of Pete, not Mike, but he managed to capture my full attention with autoharp, fiddle, and guitar, and opened my eyes to the world of American old-time music.
Meanwhile, in Ames, there was a burgeoning acoustic music scene at the campus YMCA, with local performers including a well qualified jug band, called, if I remember rightly, The Jug Band.
After a Christian youth band played at our church and encouraged us to start a coffeehouse, Keith Wessel and I headed up a coffeehouse at our church that became a hangout for disaffected youth and garage bands. This also encouraged me to work on harmonica, though I never played in a group in high school.
By college, I had gained sufficient self confidence to play in jams and associated with a very talented guitarist for a year or two. After freshman year I used my field work money to get a beat up used Martin 00-18, still my main guitar. I'd heard Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotten and Blind Blake before getting the guitar, so I knew how I wanted to play. My guitarist friend, when I couldn't get the hang of alternately picking melody, recommended picking mostly with my index finger and using the middle finger just on the 6th string (and I've always let my thumb do whatever it felt like).
By the next summer, I took a beater guitar along backpacking through Europe, which in retrospect seems highly impractical... (One time I left it standing on the platform and went off on a train, remembering it and returning by the next train, where it still waited on the platform).
My junior year of college I roomed with another guitarist, which furthered my playing experience. He also worked for the campus NPR station, and told me when the current folk radio producer was leaving, enabling me to get the job. I programmed 4 hours of music per week for 3 years, and had several hundred mostly older folk records to draw from, in addition to probably 50 I had acquired. Needing to fill these hours broadened my musical outlook considerably--at that time the Folk Show encompassed blues, ballads, folk, Irish, and world music, whereas now they would tend to be separate programs. The Chieftains albums came as promos to the station, but I was blown away by the melodies and arrangements, and was fortunate to see them in concert in St. Paul.
At that time Garrison Keillor was just starting the Prairie Home Companion, and we were the little NPR station serving the same metro area as the fledgling MPR. I'd heard and liked a couple other live radio concerts, so I added live concerts to the folk program, without any of the shtick of PHC. I'd formed a trio with Gordy Abel and Kari Veblen called Northfield and Southern, that did two radio performances. There was also a couple bluegrass groups, and Uncle Willy and the Brandysnifters, who were instrumental in documenting early string band 78's in discographies and fun to have in concert as well, doing totally obscure old time music. I took a tape recorder to the Whole Coffeehouse to record several concerts and do interviews, including a personal hero, John Fahey.
Along in there somewhere I got married, moved west, and living on a potter's salary (there is none), I didn't collect any more music, or play any more outside of the home, for around 10 years. I kept playing guitar, and worked out arrangements of a lot of church hymns, and worked a number of my original songs into a musical play. When working on that, I took up MIDI keyboarding to write the music down, and started composing tunes on the keyboard in the late 90's. I started attending jams again, especially after moving back to Spirit Lake in the early 00's. I was early to put music up on Youtube, which led to high ratings for my music, and the 2.1 million views I've amassed over the years. I played in the group Musicians Anonymous until health issues forced an end to it, and continued to associate with bassist Jonathan Hawkins playing small gigs around the area until Jonathan's death in 2020. In 2021 we restarted an oldtime group called Old Plank Road...