It’s good to have you back with us for your second interview on Hometown Sevier. I can’t believe it has already been a year since we last sat down and discussed your music. It’s pretty crazy to see how much you’ve accomplished in such a short time that you’ve been at this. Before we agreed to sit down again, I got to thinking…I don’t want to rehash what we’ve already discussed in our previous interview. So, for those of you who would like to learn more about Brad’s musical past and history, click the link below to read our previous interview here:
First thing’s first, your debut album “Blue Sky” has really treated you well this past year. How has its success shaped you as a recording and performing artist?
The biggest thing for me has been the response from fans. There is nothing cooler than looking out into the crowd and seeing people singing along to songs that you’ve written. As both an artist and a performer this does nothing but make you want more of that feeling. So, there is constant motivation to keep trying to improve.
‘She’s My Rainbow’ is undoubtedly one of those songs that will always be part of your career and an empowering stepping stone. How have you embraced that and the passion of your fans for that song in particular?
Well, it is without question the song that gets the greatest response from the fans. A lot of that has to do with the fine folks at 106.1 The River who have been kind enough to play that song quite a bit. It is such a happy and upbeat song and the look I see on people’s faces when they realize they know it is incredible. I hope that song never goes away because I never see myself getting tired of playing it.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to open for you at your EP release party at The Orangery in Knoxville, TN. I thought my fans were energetic! You my friend have a very passionate fan base…how are you making time for your fans and keeping them invested?
I am so thankful for every fan. So many of them have totally embraced me and my music and things have really started to grow in a great way. I do my best to stay in touch with fans through Facebook, my website and especially when I see some familiar faces out at a show. I always like to go over and talk to new people and let the familiar faces know how much I appreciate them.
Throughout the year I have kept up with you closely and have seen you do some new things that this time last year you weren’t doing. Most importantly you debuted your full band on a few occasions, but one show in particular at The Square Room in Knoxville, TN. How was that experience for you personally?
Incredible…in a word. [laughs] If I thought I was sold before that this is what I want to do with my life then that show sealed it. It’s that energy of the full band surrounding me and seeing all of the people dancing, singing and having a great time to my music! It’s something that I don’t think could ever get old. All it does is make me want more of it. I just try to keep growing as an artist.
As a solo artist, it must be quite refreshing to have a band behind you playing your songs the way they were recorded and envisioned in your head. How have you handled fronting your band and creating a new live experience for your fans?
It’s really awesome. The group of guys we’ve compiled could not be any nicer or be a better fit for the early stages of my career. A lot of the guys are seasoned vets and are far more accomplished musically than I am. Some members of my band have played and toured with people such as Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, and Aarron Tippen. They have never made me feel out of place. It’s been a really great and empowering experience. They’ve made the transition real smooth for me. As a result they sound great and the response from the fans has been a sign of that.
Last year voters of Knoxville News Sentinel’s “East Tennessee’s Best” voted you East Tennessee’s Best Local Singer. How did you feel when you found out you won and how are you feeling about your success within East Tennessee?
It felt fantastic! I work very hard at this and to get recognized for your efforts is always a nice feeling. East Tennessee has been very good to me and I am very proud to be from this area. I have big dreams and am working hard toward expanding my music as far as it can go. But the music will always have to funnel through this region. It will always be home to me.
Year-end wrap: What was the most amazing experience for you as an artist within the last year, since we last spoke one year ago?
There has been a lot of great stuff that has gone on, but I am going to have to go with the show at the Square Room this past summer. It was the culmination of everything I’ve been working on, just a really great experience.
The new album is called “Fresh”.
Wow…that sounds exciting! “Fresh” automatically puts a new image of you in my head. Is this album a fresh take on you and your music?
Yes! I am in love with the whole idea of it and the vibe of that word. My co-writer/manager Jim Denton and I worked very hard on all of these songs and tried to stretch ourselves as best we could. I feel we were spot on in our efforts to point things in a slightly newer more fresh direction.
Yes, both in the songwriting process as well as in the production of the songs. We made many deliberate efforts to try and make each song its own thing. I feel like there is a good blend of sounds throughout the album. Creatively I was probably a little more comfortable with who I am as a writer and approached each song with a little more confidence. I feel that it definitely shows.
How many songs made it to the record this time around? Is there a song in particular that you are really latching onto as of right now?
There are going to be 12 songs on the record. The three songs that appeared on the Brad Blackwell EP also appear on this album along with 9 new songs. I would say the one song that I have really become attached to is a new track called ‘Take You Away’. It has a cool story behind it and the sound of the song opens up a whole new avenue for us to take our music.
Some sophomore efforts don’t always live up to the hype of the debut. How have you made sure that this record will be better than your debut album “Blue Sky”?
I am a better writer now than I was when we were writing “Blue Sky” and have become much more comfortable in the engineering and production side of things as well. I think this record takes a very noticeable leap forward from the previous record. I’m not worried about a sophomore slump. [Laughs]
Yes, every song on the record was recorded at the Tracking Room studio in Nashville.
Will you be following the release of “Fresh” with a tour of some sort?
Yes and No. Looking into the future it is an absolute 100% yes that I will begin touring. But I currently am in my senior year at the University of Tennessee and am just too close to not want to finish up. I’ve always said that unless just some incredible opportunity presents itself that I just cannot turn down, then I would like to finish school. But without question, and if all goes as I envision it, the second I’ve been handed my diploma…is the second I hit the road.
The release show is going to be on Friday, September 23rd at the Square Room. We just feel like we know the routine so well having just played our last big show there a few months ago that it gives us an added level of confidence and comfort coming into the “Fresh” release show.
You really seem to have a connection with The Square Room in Market Square in downtown Knoxville. Is there a relationship there that keeps you bringing your show and your fans back to that venue?
It’s just a great venue, a real gift for all people in and around Knoxville and the perfect venue for where I am at in my career. The people in charge there run a really tight ship and they just have always been so great to us. This will be my third time playing there and each experience has been better than the last. I’ve really enjoyed building a relationship with that venue. I am very lucky.
You can expect a good show! We won’t be playing all of the new songs off the record but we will be playing a good amount of them. We’ll be playing a nice blend of new and old stuff to make sure that everyone has a chance to hear something they know and are familiar with.
Oh yes! We are going to have some brand new Brad Blackwell t-shirts! We also plan on having wrist bands, posters, and of course both “Fresh” and “Blue Sky” albums available. There may be a few more merchandise items available and we’re working on getting everything squared away and organized for the show on the 23rd.
What’s next for you after the release of “Fresh”?
Just staying the course. I feel like this album is really going to be a huge push forward for my career and I will be doing everything I can to just keep moving forward in the right direction.
Any parting words of enlightenment?
My album release show is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23RD at the Square Room! It is the University of Tennessee’s off weekend, so there is not a UT football conflict there! [laughs] I am just so excited about this record and really want people to see what I have been working so hard on for the past year. And go check out Denver T. Stevens’ music! I know you’ve got a new record coming out and it sounds amazing! There are some great local musicians around here and I would encourage everyone to make an effort to check them out.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BRAD BLACKWELL AND HIS ALBUM RELEASE SHOW ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 GO TO: