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Brad Blackwell / Press

“Brad Blackwell knows that performing at the Bijou Theatre is a big step up — and it's not just about the number of people coming to a show."People understand that," says Blackwell. "If they say, 'Well, what are you doing, you college graduate?' and you say, 'Playing music,' that doesn't mean a whole lot to a lot of people. But if you say, 'I played the Bluebird Cafe. I played the Bijou Theatre,' that means something to them. So people are starting to respond a little more."”

“This weekend, Blackwell will play a very big show at The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville. In October, he’ll play an even bigger one, going on right before Darius Rucker at the Foothills Fall Festival in downtown Maryville. Three years ago, Blackwell left Johnson City and moved to Knoxville; he’s released two albums, including his most recent, “Fresh.” Although he started out playing open mic nights and small gigs around Knoxville, the past year has seen his name recognition skyrocket. And for good reason “Fresh” is a solid record filled with catchy choruses, melodies that get stuck on repeat in the listener’s brain and a light-hearted approach to life, love and the sort of hope that reassures fans that things will be OK in the end. Although he’s marketing himself as country, there’s as much of Jack Johnson’s easygoing soul on “Fresh” to warrant crossover appeal, and enough of a flirtation with James Taylor’s melancholy introspection to give it some depth”

“Blackwell will perform at the Bijou for the first time on June 22. He'll be introduced by fan, friend and former University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer. In 2010, he won Best Singer in the News Sentinel's 2010 East Tennessee's Best Reader's Poll, and in 2011 he released his second album, "Fresh." While his sound is more along the lines of singer-songwriters like Dave Barnes and Matt Kearney, Blackwell says he's breaking into the country market. Blackwell says it's a fight to constantly play larger venues. He fought to get shows at the Wild Wing Cafe and fought to get a show at the Square Room and the Bluebird in Nashville. Blackwell just graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in advertising, and he is ready to go full-throttle in pursuing his dream of music stardom.”

“If determination makes stars, Blackwell is well on his way. Stylistically, Blackwell probably falls more into the same category as Dave Barnes, Matt Wertz and the new breed of pop-music singer-songwriters. Blackwell has already made his local mark with his regular performance schedule and his debut album, "Blue Sky," which contains the song "She's My Rainbow." On Sept. 23, he'll celebrate the release of his new album, "Fresh." It doesn't look like a country album, but Blackwell says taking a different approach is all part of the plan. And audiences are obviously catching on. He keeps a full schedule both as a student and as a performer. He played 20 paid shows during July and makes regular forays to Nashville with manager Denton.”

“There is music…and there is incredible music. There are musicians…and there are outstanding musicians. Sometimes these musicians just stick to the same old template and do the same old thing. However there are some musicians who have something so special that it pours out of their whole being, it engulfs a room like a bright light and you can see and hear it immediately. Up and coming singer/songwriter Brad Blackwell is the epitome of that something special. With his soulful voice and the ability to carry a room full of strangers through a night of some of the most incredibly inspiring music, he is quickly becoming Knoxville’s shining star. With the release of his debut album Blue Sky and on the verge of some really big headlining shows, I sat down with Brad Blackwell to see exactly how his forecast calls for blue skies. ”