In 2009, Hooper took his talent “off the farm and onto the stage.” (He finally learned how to play the guitar, last Tuesday, at 4 p.m.) Since that time, he has seen a consistently growing fan base, expanded show schedule and gained the respect of his contemporary peers.
An overview of achievements include: Finalist in the 2014 Maine Songwriters song contest, Nomination in the Portland Phoenix Best Music 2013 poll; five outdoor concerts in Cambridge, MA (2013,14); debut show at Goose Island Brewery (Wrigleyville) in Chicago, IL; yearly summer-long Sunday's at Freedom Cafe; regular rotation of songs on WEZR; writing and recording his first professional radio commercial, a cameo in Sunday River's tourism video (#1 Ski Area in the East 2013), first-call performer list at Sunday River (2012, 13, 14); yearly Maine Blues Festival performer, a 40-minute TV show on Maine Songwriter's Present, a Moore Park Arts Festival performance on NPCTV, songwriters-in-the-round at the Frontier Theatre in Brunswick, the Portland Maine Summer Concert series, local yearly events and performed over 200+ professional shows in 2014. (Will be returning to Maine Blues Festival, Cambridge Concert Series and summer-long series at Freedom Cafe, Naples, ME. Recently booked for three shows during the 2015 North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland, ME.)
Originally from Chicago, Hooper moved to Maine, the land of his bloodlines, in 1980. No longer sure why he wanted it in the first place, Hooper racked up some serious “mileage” while growing up (questionable) and raising a family.
Hooper has grown into a voice all his own. He writes and performs songs that are raw and intuitive; lyrics fueled by years of hard-mileage and universal-truths. Hooper’s voice has been described as “smooth like good whiskey, sweet like an old guitar.” Hooper quips, "I like to sing and people seem to like it when I do.”
Chris Busby, editor of the Bollard in Portland, Maine, had this to say about Hooper’s debut CD, “Midnight at the Hilltop Hotel”: “Hooper’s paid a lot of dues and deserves every scrap of attention that comes his way. This guy’s the real deal. No flash, no gimmicks, just solid guitar playing and soulful vocals,” — Chris Busby, The Bollard, July 2009
Quite often Hooper will quietly take the stage and then proceed to spin a song like it was the last thing he was going to do. His vocal quality often has him pegged as a “blues man,” but his content spans many genres making it difficult to pigeonhole the guy. Americana, roots, blues, folk, you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Award winning producer, Michael Rizzo, with Epic Soul Music, feels strongly about Brad's singing and songwriting skills. Here is what Rizzo had to say:
"Living in Nashville, I was fortunate to work with hit singer/songwriters and publishers. Brad possesses the same qualities of a first-class songwriter and with a classic voice to match! There is a real [John Prine, Ry Cooter] thing going on and people need to hear it."
Michael Rizzo - Award-winning producer with EpicSoul.com (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, UNIVERSAL, DISNEY, etc.)
Brad also enjoyed a TV recording for Maine Songwriters Present on Great Falls TV in 2011. Due to a cancellation Hooper was offered both time slots and recorded an entire 40 minute performance. The show was released in December 2011. You can view the trailer on YouTube or check out some videos from the show on his website.
Hooper's third CD, Scratchin' out a Livin', is a compilation of artist picks from the first two CDs plus four new tracks. The CD includes the work of guitar master Denny Breau, master percussionist/drum maker Rusty Wiltjer and bass/slide/recording/production by Alan Bean. Alan Bean completed his musical, The Bus Stop Athiest in 2013 and has been picked up for national production and performance.
Hooper's second CD, Memories & Mileage, contains five full production numbers PLUS 14 songs from the live recording at Tucker's Music Pub in Norway. "The live recording was awesome and brought family and friends together for an intimate show," says Hooper. "A chance to invoke laughter and tears is more than any player could hope to achieve."
Here is some of what The Portland Phoenix had to say about Hooper's second CD, Memories & Mileage: "…there are some fine performances. The opener, 'Sinkin' Kind of Feelin',' is piano-fueled blues, almost dead-on Royal Albert Hall-era Clapton…
…when Hooper tells us 'if it wasn't for them blues, when I got this low, I'd have nothin' at all,' it spills out of him, like it was forced from within."
Sam Pfeifle – Portland Phoenix, August 2011
The first CD, Midnight at the Hilltop Hotel, a solo effort by Hooper was well received and really set the stage for the potential of this songwriter. The songs are rich in "working man's" blues and stories. The release of Midnight brought positive reviews and radio play on WBLM, WCLZ and WMPG.
Educated with the songwriting process from working on the second CD has made it tough for Hooper to stop 'tweaking' his newest material and even the "stuff" that has been released. A phrase here, a hesitation there, some new 'finger thing' [discovered] keep showing up at Hooper's performances. "You have to set the bar high with a great song and then make damn sure nothing falls below that bar," says Hooper.
Recent troubles, now behind him, have left Brad relentlessly determined to achieve his goal. If the past few years have been any indication of Hooper’s potential you will consider yourself lucky to have been there for ‘the intimate shows’ as he makes his way.
(To be continued - )