Local Musician Spotlight – Rick Brandon
Unless you’re Doc Severson, the trumpet player is typically not the leader of the band, but in Rick Brandon’s case, the choice as clear. Known in his inner-circle of musicians as “Raucous Rico,” Brandon has been the guy in charge for years. Brandon spent his formative years in St. Louis, growing up in a musical house with his twin and also musically inclined brother, and his father, who was a tenor vocalist. Musicals were rampant in the house, whether on the radio, television of even re-creating them in the house as a sing along. Originally wanting to be a drummer, that idea was nixed early by his mother, so as a third grader, Brandon settled on the next loudest instrument he could think of, the trumpet.
Brandon quickly discovered soul music on St. Louis’s east side, which led to funk, jazz, the blues and literally anything from the Motown record label. He and his brother started a band called “Swamp Buggy” and began to tour regionally, which led him to Ohio, as he was majoring in Clinical Psychology and attending school on a number of campuses across the US. In Ohio they played the “Agora” circuit and even opened for acts like the Raspberries and the Del Phonics over the years.
As happens with many a musician, he met a girl, and that girl was from Mill Valley, so his choice was to continue to be a New York football Giants fan or become a Niner fan, and 30 years ago with Joe Montana at the helm, that seemed OK, so off to Marin County he went. Music was on and off over the years as he was on the road a lot with his profession kept him travelling, but always had his horn in the trunk ‘just in case.’ In Mill Valley, he connected with Michael LaMacchia, who had a music school that had the classes ending with a performance at the Sweetwater. Not really needing lessons, he did want to play at Sweetwater and during the course of the classes, connected with many other musicians of his caliber and ilk and the New Hip Replacements was born, and in the last two years, have been making a name in Marin County and have now decided the time is right to branch out.
The act will be at the Sonoma Speakeasy tonight, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m. and along with a number of seasoned musical veterans, the act also has local Nick Cordellos on drums. Let’s check out a little about Rick Brandon.
1) Many musicians in our generation cite the Beatles or Elvis Presley on Ed Sullivan as that moment when they knew music was what they wanted to do. When and what was it that made you realize you wanted to be a musician?
RB > Hmm. I grew up with music so there really wasn’t a time when I thought that, but it wasn’t something I didn’t think of either, but I guess it was Paul Revere and the Raiders that really got me convinced I wanted to do music, but once I heard Mowtown, soul music sucked me in.
2) That first instrument you owned. What was it and do you still have it?
RB > I don’t have that trumpet but it was a trumpet. Like I said, I wanted drums, badly, but my mom said no, so we settled on the trumpet. I guess it was the right choice.
3) Who are you’re primary influences in your music?
RB> The Temptations. Period. Literally anyone on Motown. But from a blues perspective I’d say B. B. King, some Joe Cocker, any artist with the “Gravel Voice” as we call it.
4) What CD or playlist is in your car or your iPod?
RB > It’s actually news channels, CNN and MSNBC. I love driving around and yelling at ther radio. If it’s music it’s typically our own practice tunes or my daughter, Carrie Lynn who is a singer-songwriter and also an amazing vocalist on her won. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree they say. A variety of jazz music occasionally as well.
5) Tell us about your current acts.
RB > It’s all the New Hip Replacements at this point. I always have my horn in the trunk and do some session work but for a performing band, that’s about it at this time.
6) If you could have written one song, which one would it be and why?
RB > I actually wrote it. It was a song I always wanted to do. It’s a reggae tune called “Shirkin’ It” and is about playing music or just chillin’. Anything that happens when you take a day off from work.
Set List – The Rundown
El Verano Inn, 705 Laurel Ave. El Verano, 935-0611
Saturday, Jan. 20: Tilted Halos. 8:30 p.m.
Friday Farmers Market, Depot Park, 270 First St W. Sonoma
Today, Jan. 19: Stewart Degner. 9:30 a.m.
Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St. Sonoma, 938-5277
Saturday, Jan. 20: Sun Kil Moon. 7 p.m.
HopMonk Tavern, 691 Broadway Sonoma, 935-9100
Tonight, Jan. 19: Jeff Campbell. 8 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 20: Frankie Bourne. 8 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 21: Emily Elbert and Ali Handel in the “Listening Room” 7 p.m.
Murphy’s Irish Pub, 464 First St. E. Sonoma, 935-0660.
Tonight, Jan. 19: Jon Emery. 8 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 20: Dan Martin. 8 p.m.
Olde Sonoma Public House, 18615 Sonoma Hwy. Boyes Hot Springs, 938-7587
Tonight, Jan. 19: Ryan Tatarian and Matt Silva. 6:30 p.m.
The Reel Fish House and Grill, 401 Grove St. El Verano, 343-0044
Tonight, Jan. 19: Albert Cummings. 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 21: Buck Nickels and Loose Change. 5 p.m.
Sebastiani Theatre, 476 First St. E. Sonoma, 996-9756
Monday, Jan. 22: “Jazz, Rock and Rhythm” with Sheila Whitney, Syd James and Jennifer Wood. 7 p.m.
Sonoma Speakeasy and American Music Hall, 452 First St. E. ste. G. Sonoma, 996-1364
Tonight, Jan. 19: Bruce Gordon, Jenni Purcell and Jodi Stevens. 6:30 p.m. the New Hip Replacements. 8 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 20: the Marks Brothers. 5 p.m. Solid Air 8 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 21: Lynne O and the Riots. 5 p.m. Acoustic Blues Jam. 8:30 p.m.
The Starling Bar, 19380 Sonoma Hwy. Sonoma, 996-3055
Saturday, Jan. 20: Sonoma Sound Syndicate “Pop-Up” band. 8 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 21: “Songwriting Fools” with Adam Traum, Dale Henry Geist and more. 3 p.m.
If your gig isn’t in my column, you didn’t tell me about it. email@example.com