Brad Bailey

You have to do it


Sometimes I write stuff. I know, it's a blog, and stuff has to get there somehow, so of course I write stuff. Well, as you may have noticed (or probably not), sometimes I go long stretches without writing anything at all. (I suppose that it doesn't necessarily follow that because I'm not blogging, I haven't been writing anything. Trust me. Not writing much at all in those times.)

A couple of times this summer and fall, I was asked to write a couple of concert reviews. I delayed, dragged my feet, forgot about them, and then finally, forced myself to do them.

They were awful.

Something happened, and I went back and looked at something I had written last year, my end of the year album review. OK, looks like maybe I wrote it at the beginning of this year. Whatevs. I actually like it. Funny, I felt like my voice was in there. And I figured out what (I think) made it better.

I had been writing. A LOT. In November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is writing a 50,000 word piece of fiction in 30 days. Plus, I had produced a ton of album and video reviews for the music magazine that shall not be named. I was writing a lot. When you do something that much, you have to work really, really hard to not get better at it. 

But it can be a perishable skill. Use it or lose it, they say. For me, writing is perishable. Sometimes it can be a good thing to get away from something for a bit, take a break. For whatever reason, I can play most of my own music after not having touched a guitar in a while. There are occasions where this practice can even result in surprising yourself with what you are able to create.

With writing, I have to be doing it. So just over three weeks ago, I started something. I wrote in my spiral notebook for three pages each day. (This idea comes from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, an excellent resource for breaking through creative blocks.) Some days I might do more, but I do at least that. 

(VERY IMPORTANT: it doesn't have to be good. It just has to fill three pages. Judging and critiquing and taking hours and hours to do this doesn't help all that much.)

Big whoop. For me, I find that keeping track of things helps me make sure I do them consistently. Somewhere, I read that Jerry Seinfeld writes a joke a day, every day. The article that had this tidbit (I forget where from. Sorry) suggested marking off on a calendar each day you accomplish some minimum of whatever task you are wanting to get better at. So I started doing that. You start to get addicted to seeing the X's add up, filling the page. As of today, I am starting my fourth week of daily writing practice.

As we've established, I have written stuff before. Interviews, reviews, a crappy dystopian novel. But last week, I forget which day, I wrote something that I really liked. I liked it so much, that I said to myself, "I'm a writer." That was kind of a big thing for me. Now, in my brain, I know that if I am writing, and doing it consistently, I'm "a writer." But this was emotional. Feelings and stuff.

But I wouldn't have gotten there if I hadn't started. If I hadn't been writing pages of boring terribleness.

You have to do the work.

What I'm Reading


So, I'm a bit of a reader. I love books. So I thought maybe you'd be interested in what I read during September. (Technically, these are the books I finished in September; I have several more I'm in the middle of, but you'll find out what those are next month.)

Andy Weir - The Martian

Daniel R. Solin - The Smartest 401k Book You'll Ever Read

Ernest Cline - Ready Player One

Lee Child - Make Me

Theo Pauline Nestor - Writing Is My Drink

Elisabeth Sims - You've Got a Book In You

Ernest Cline - Armada


So that's my list. What have you been reading?



I need help.

I come up with good ideas. Sometimes. And a lot of the time, they stay that way. Individual ideas that don't go anywhere. Much of the time, that's my fault. Sometimes I don't recognize the good idea when it happens, and I move on by. And then it's gone.

Recently, I've been working with a producer friend, Pat Hundley. How we met is one of my favorite stories ever. I was playing an outdoor gig a couple years ago, at First Friday. (First Friday is an event where traffic is blocked and travel made inconvenient so people can walk around downtown and not get run over.) I played my set, which I thought was OK. The next day I got a message on Facebook from Pat. He had been running sound for another band around the corner from where I had been playing, and he heard something that he couldn't figure out what it was. "What the f--- is that?!" were the words he used, I believe. Now, pretty much my goal in life is for my music to make people say "WTF is that?" (Preferably with maybe another exclamation point in there, but whatever.) So I was really happy. He said he'd love to record me in the future.

Now, I didn't really know who he was, being as I had just recently moved back to Las Vegas after a nine year stretch on the Army. Turns out, Pat is a really accomplished producer, proficient in many genres encompassing rock, hip-hop, and all sorts of stuff in between. 

Time passes and we finally get to work together. Then I get a job and can't. Then we can again. Here's how it works: I set up my mountain of guitar stuff, Pat gets the levels, and then I randomly start playing. Pat is listening; maybe not so much for the notes, but for the vibe. He's taking in everyone's conversations in the room (if others are present). I'll stumble across something and he'll brighten, and say "That. Keep doing that." Or something like that. So I have to remember what I had just played, which was probably off the top of my head, and start looping it. And then we'll build it from there.

Last night was one of those moments. When I get discouraged, wondering why I keep doing this when nothing seems to be working, we create something that moves us, and maybe eventually you when you hear it. My hands were aching, I wasn't always able to keep holding the chords I was playing because my fingers wouldn't obey. But we made something.

And that's why I keep doing this.

Brad and his blu rays


So, I have a lot of movies on blu-ray. And I sometimes feel guilty about buying new ones when I haven't watched all the ones I already have in a long time. (Not guilty enough to not buy new ones, but whatevs.) So i came up with sort of a weird way to pick which one I will watch next.

I organized all the ones I haven't watched yet since I moved into my new place in chronological order. Now, the movies I've already watched are in alphabetical order on another shelf unit. (I divided the alphabet pretty much evenly, and this resulted in some shelves having more videos than others. I guess a lot of my movies start with either s or a.) So I go through chronologically, but skip over ones that would go on a more-full shelf, until the "watched" shelves have equal numbers of movies.

Somewhere in here, I decided to try and collect every Oscar-winner for Best Picture since 1976, with the eventual goal of getting all Best Picture winners. And here's where this fact comes in: I'm stuck at The King's Speech. For whatever reason, I can't bring myself to watch it. So I've messed around, watching shows on Netflix and Hulu instead, hoping that maybe today will be the day when I watch another movie with British people being really British. (Which normally I like. Except Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. That was super boring.) 

Anyway, do you have any weird habits when it comes to organizing movies, music, or books?

Brad tells you about awesome new stuff


I am aware that you look to me as a cultural gatekeeper, trusting me to let you know about all the awesome stuff that happens in the arts.

(I almost got through typing that without smiling, and laughing internally, pleased with how funny I find myself.) (I used the word "myself" twice in one sentence. Lame.) (I edited that out so you now don't know what I'm referring to, but trust me, it was awful.)

So, here are some great new albums that have been released recently:

Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls

The Dear Hunter - Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise

Scale the Summit - V

Tesseract - Polaris

Meg Myers - Sorry

Spock's Beard - The Oblivion Particle

All of these are excellent, and I feel comfortable directing you to spend your hard earned money on them.

PRS SE Custom 24 7-String Guitar


Several months ago, I got ahold of a PRS SE Custom 24 &-string electric guitar. The SE series are foreign made instruments constructed for Paul Reed Smith.

Up till this point, I had used my Sterling by Music Man JP70 almost exclusively. It is a shredder's guitar, built to the specifications of John Petrucci of Dream Theater, one of the most technically able guitarists on the planet. Indeed, it is a fine guitar, but the neck on it feels huge, like a mile across the fretboard, and it too me quite a bit of time to get used to.

Immediately upon picking up the PRS SE, I noticed how comfortable the neck felt. I've compared it to a "classic rock 7-string," and by that I mean it feels almost like a Les Paul. Not exactly, of course, but I just couldn't believe how easily I adjusted to this guitar. It just feels like "mine," like it fits me perfectly. It has become my main guitar, both for gigs and practice.

This beauty features the classic Paul Reed Smith body shape, and PRS designed pickups. Mine has a black finish, but different finishes seem to be available at different retail outlets, so it's worth shopping around to see if you find one you prefer.

I'm reviewing my personal instrument; I've not been sent one to review. I just really, really like this one, and you can ask my friends; I never shut up about it.

Another Day at the VA (part four)


Yes, there's more.

I might have mentioned that they didn't give me the correct amount of pain meds. The doctor wrote for a 30 day supply, but the pharmacy gave me 20 pills. (Once every 8 hours... that puts us at 6 1/3 days. I tried extending it by skipping them before bed.) I had just figured they wrote it for a shorter time period. What do I know?

So the doc writes another prescription. (This isn't the doctor I saw at the ER, but whoever the nurse I was assigned to was working with that day.) It gets to the pharmacy, and they won't fill it, because their records show that my previous prescription was for 30 days, and it's only been 15. So it looks like I've been shopping for scrips, apparently. Of course, they also have the information showing that I was not actually given the amount I was supposed to receive. So we're clear, the pharmacist knows that I wasn't given 30 days worth.

So I have to wait for the nurse to get the doctor to enter a note allowing an early fill. Then, the nurse comes out and says that because I haven't actually seen my actual provider at my intro exam, they can't give me enough to get to the appointment, because I have to sign a pain contract. (I still don't know what that means; I guess I'll find out on October 21.) This, even though the original pharmacy made the error. I was advised when I run out to go back to the ER. At the VA hospital. On the other side of town.

Somewhere in there, I went through the check out process. I asked if there was any way to get an appointment sooner, due to the whole "in danger of losing my job/not having any money" thing. "No, because the appointment I need is an hour, not one of the 15-minute ones they can just sneak in. Oh, and funny thing, now the clinic I'm currently at is closed for new patients, and the one I was turned away from two weeks ago is now open again."

Yeah. Hysterical.

I said to someone, "can you imagine what it's like for people who have real problems?" I know there are countless veterans with much more severe issues than my own. And some of my troubles are at least partially due to my own short-sightedness, (not realizing that two years from then that I would need them to keep me current, and they might drop me), and maybe not the best response to frustration with being unable to get appointments in a timely manner two years ago. (I pretty much gave up and stopped trying, because, hey, I'm OK for now.)

But I know there is an actual problem here.

Another Day at the VA (part three)


Where was I? Ah, yes. Muscle relaxers and painkillers. 

So, the next day I head in to work, knowing I'm going to have to ask for a leave of absence. My job won't let me work while I'm on the meds I was prescribed. (Apparently an industrial environment and being out of my mind on drugs aren't conducive to not having horrific accidents. Go figure.) Turns out I could have done it on the phone. Which would have been nice to know, but I'm sort of new, and figured that the HR department actually did HR stuff.

Anyway, half hour on the phone, and I'm temporarily set up. I'm going to need a doctor's approval to return to work, since my problems don't seem to be directly work related. Which seems fine.

Until two weeks later.

Did I mention they only gave me like a six day supply of the pain meds? Because they only gave me a six day supply of the pain meds. Plenty of muscle relaxers, though. So I was trying to ration them.

Anyway, two weeks later. Two weeks is about how long it took for me to receive the paperwork I need the doc to sign off on for my medical leave. I walk in to the new VA clinic I've been assigned to. Triage and everything is really fast. 

I see the nurse and she tells me they won't be able to do anything with my paperwork until my for reals appointment on October 21. (Remember that? The soonest I could get an appointment was seven weeks out. Now it's five.) Then I wait for an hour or so, reading my book. (I brought a book. I always bring a book. This time it was Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. Really good. Check it out.)

The nurse comes back, and the doctor indeed won't sign my stuff, because I haven't had my initial exam. (Because they purged me from the system, I guess they don't have record of me from two years ago. Except I know that they do, because they've referred to it in dealing with me.)

So, here's where I stand: My job won't allow me to come back to work until I get a doctor's approval. They also won't approve my medical leave and temporary disability pay, also because of lack of doctor approval. And if I don't get the doctor's approval, which I can't get until October 21st at the earliest, I guess they could fire me for not coming back to work. Which they won't let me do.

But wait, there's more...

Another Day at the VA (part two)


So, the VA made me an appointment for seven weeks away, and sent me to the ER at the VA hospital on the other side of town. I'm upset, almost "drummer kid in Whiplash after JK Simmons slaps him a few times"-type upset. I'm pretty much collected by the time I get there, and the check in process was pretty quick. I'm taken to a room they refer to as "lenai," or something like that. It seems to mean "place you sit and wait while an orderly sits and watches you."

I actually see a doctor. She goes over all the questions I've answered six times already, but that's her job, so it's cool. She rules out a stroke, which is nice, because that hadn't even occurred to me. (Remember, I jumped straight to Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS.) A couple of X-rays later, and it looks like my C4 and C5 vertebrae are "smooshed," (which seems to be the technical term), and I have degenerative bone disease in my lower back. The theory is that these issues are combining to pinch nerves, which could account for my left side going all weird on me.

Right then, they gave me a couple of shots: a steroid in my shoulder, and some sort of painkiller in my hip. The hip one, I barely noticed. The one in my arm... Well, within minutes it hurt more than any harm that has ever been inflicted upon me, and I was thinking, "Maybe you guys could just amputate instead?" (After about an hour it settled down.) The nurse was surprised, because usually the hip one was what bothered folks, and that steroid thing worked wonders on his allergy attacks. (Apparently kittens cause an instantaneous death spiral for him.)

I was sent home with prescriptions for painkillers and muscle relaxers. 

Wait, it gets better.

Another Day at the VA (part one)


A couple of weeks ago, I woke up one morning with my left side feeling weaker than normal. I was kind of freaking out, worried that I might have ALS or something. I went to work that day and the medic on staff checked me out. My blood pressure was sky high, which is extremely rare for me. (I actually can't remember an instance of high bp in all my checkups over the years.) They insisted I go see a doctor ASAP, which, for me, was the next day.

I went to the clinic I had last gone to, the one on the southeast side, as a walk-in. They triaged me, and then the nurse went to talk to the doctor. After a long wait, she returned, informing me that I should go to the emergency room. The emergency room located at the VA hospital on the extreme north side. By extreme, I mean there's the hospital, a couple hundred yards of desert terrain, and then a mountain. Turns out, since I hadn't been to the doctor in a couple of years, (due to lack of availability of appointments, and a bit of general laziness on my part), I had been purged as an active patient, and due to a loss of providers, they were no longer taking new patients. Lovely.

So I waited for an hour or so to be checked out. (They check in new arrivals before checking out the ones already there.) They were happy to schedule me a new appointment at one of the other VA clinics in town, all of which are on the opposite side of town from me. I picked the southwest clinic, as it seemed closest to the freeway. The soonest appointment was October 21st. Seven weeks out. FML.

(to be continued...)

Where've I Been?


I know it's been a long time since I've updated the site. I really appreciate your patience.

Some things have come up.

One day last week, I woke up and my left side (arm and leg) was feeling significantly weaker than normal. I went ahead into work, and got checked out at the aid station, where I registered a really high blood pressure reading, which is way out of character for me. I went to the VA emergency room the next day, and my bp was fine, but the x-rays showed my C4 and C5 vertebrae were "smooshed" together (I believe that's a technical term), and I have degenerative bone disease in my lower back. These seem to cause pinched nerves, which lead to the weird stuff going on on my left side.

Where this leaves me is here: most days I am able to play guitar, but every once in a while, I just can't. So when I can, I'm going to, and do the best I can to finish the album, Connection. And then keep going and creating more music.

I really appreciate your support and encouragement.



New album - Connection I


Finally. My new EP, Connection I, is here. I know y'all have been like, "When is 'Father of the Year' going to be available for me to buy and give you all of my money?" Well, it's now. Head on over to and get it. Or wait till Friday and you can get it pretty much everywhere else.

Brad Goes to the Movies: American Sniper


I recently reviewed Clint Eastwood's latest film, American Sniper, here.


I left out something that I wanted to share with you here. I took my oldest daughter to the movie with me. I felt it was important for her to see it. After, we were talking a bit, and I talked about my experience over there. I looked over, and she was crying. When I was overseas, she had been about 8 to 10 years old, and had never really had a chance to talk about how she felt. Finally, after six years, we finally got our chance. To me, this is absolutely the best part of this amazing film, and I can't thank Eastwood and Bradley Cooper enough for making sure it was done right.

New song! Finally!

Brad Tells You How Awesome Stuff Is: Cloudkicker - Little Histories review

Brad Goes to the Movies - The Imitation Game


I love Benedict Cumberbatch. He's brilliant, and I would pay to see him read a phonebook. At 3D prices. As a result, I was excited to see him in The Imitation Game, a new film based on the life of Alan Turing, father of the computer, and largely responsible for the Allied victory in WWII.

Cumberbatch does not disappoint. He is brilliant in every scene. One of the first things I noticed was how different he looked in sections that were set 20 years apart. It wasn't just makeup effects, but his presence, the way he carried himself, everything. 

I can't recommend The Imitation Game highly enough. An excellent film about a truly fascinating figure in history.

Top 10 Albums of 2014


The following was submitted to ZRockR magazine but hasn't yet been published, and it kind of has a shelf life, so I'm posting it here.


Top 10 Albums of 2014

So, I’m turning 38 this month. Getting older, whatevs. I’m finding that I’m caring much more about songs and melody than anything else. I’m not actually sure that has changed over the past few years, but I am definitely noticing it a lot more lately. I’m sitting at my keyboard and looking at the rough list I came up with, and almost all of the entries are there because of at least one amazing song, usually more. (I know, I’ve used the word “more” a lot so far, and we’re just in the first paragraph.) (I’m also noticing that there are more than ten. Crap. Oh well, I will hopefully have remedied that by the time I have submitted this.) (Also, I’m using a lot of parentheses.) I’m doing what I can to seek out new music. As a matter of principle, I no longer go to tribute or cover band shows. Or old bands that were marginal at best in their prime and haven’t created anything new to warrant a new tour, other than collecting money from people wanting to relive their glory days. (Iron Maiden is not included in this category because they are freaking awesome, and I love their 2000 and on era work, not to mention them playing their new album front to back on the A Matter Of Life And Death tour, because it was awesome, and they kick ass.) If they are successful at it, and making a living for themselves and their families, god bless ‘em and god speed. (I’m also crankier and more judgmental these days. Yet still delightful. Go figure.)

ZRockR is growing, and doing cool stuff. But right now, to my knowledge, we aren't at the “record labels send them our new release right now so that guy Brad Bailey (he’s freaking delightful) can review it” stage. Everything on this list, I bought with my own money. Everything else I’ve reviewed for ZRockR has been actual purchases. (Exception: Maragold gave me their debut CD. But I tried to pay for it. And it’s really great. You should totally buy it. And see them live. But it was a 2013 release, so not on the list this year.) In my mind, this has a couple of advantages: if it’s awesome, I feel even better about my positive comments and all around wonderfulness. And if it’s not up to par, I can be extra righteously indignant over the intolerably crappy awfulness the artist subjected me to, and share that with you, Dear Reader, warning you for the love of god to not buy this terribly awful terribleness. (Huh. “Terribleness” seems to be an actual word, according to my spellchecker.) Anyway, all that to say (and I’m not actually sure it relates all that well to what follows, I just wanted to say it): Here are the albums I liked the best this year.

1. Almost Normal - In Technicolor. I played a show with them a few years ago to benefit Songs4Soldiers. A lineup change later (they are now a duo), and they have released In Technicolor, an EP chock full of ridiculously good synth-pop songs. Their song “Clockwork” is probably my most played song on my iTunes this year, and “Oblivion” is absolutely gorgeous. Local artists who should be national very soon.

2. Hozier - Hozier. A friend posted a link to Hozier’s Saturday Night Live performance of “Take Me To Church” a couple months ago. He used the phrase “a new Peter Gabriel,” so I had to check it out. (For the record, I completely ignored Ed Sheeran’s recommendation from the month before, which I regret.) Holy crap, it was amazing. The melody was captivating, the lyrics transcendent. The whole vibe was haunting. First chance I had, I went out and bought it. The rest of the album is a bit different, kind of a roots rock affair, with R&B overtones, but it’s still fantastic. “Jackie & Wilson,” “Sedated,” “Work Song,” and “Foreigner’s God” are some of the amazing standout tracks.

3. Anathema - Distant Satellites. I reviewed this earlier for ZRockR. (I think. If not, I should have. It’s awesome.) Melody, melody, melody. Gorgeous, beautiful songs, fantastic performances. Super highly recommended.

4. Tycho - Awake. I’m not sure how I discovered these guys, possibly a free song on iTunes from their last album. Whatever it was, I bought their new release the day it came out. They have an almost electronica sound, but they use actual instruments. I played it on a drive to California to pick up a guitar, and felt like I was in a movie. A very cool soundtrack, atmospheric vibe.

5. Set and Setting - A Vivid Memory. More atmospheric, instrumental goodness. Saw this one in an email from Prosthetic Records, which is often more extreme than my tastes usually run, but the description looked cool, so I checked it out. Great stuff, and I’m glad I discovered it.

6. Polyphia - Muse. Every once in a while, you hear something, and from the first notes, all you can say is “Holy shit!” That’s this album. Hyper-melodic, and guitar shreddiness for days. Probably the most all out fun release on my list.

7. Animals As Leaders - The Joy of Motion. I have the first two AAL releases. They're crazy instrumental stuff, and they’re… interesting. Nothing on them really grabbed me and held on to my ears. The Joy of Motion absolutely did. Their compositions have gotten much more melodic, and they are still fierce. Next level stuff here.

8. (tie) Opeth - Pale Communion. Steve Rothery - The Ghosts of Pripyat. I’m cheating here, because I have more on my list than will fit in my arbitrarily selected framework of ten. Both have amazing guitar tones and fabulous melodies. I’m talking “no longer requiring female companionship” guitar tones. I love both of these albums. You should go buy them.

9. Flying Colors - Second Nature. I’ve previously reviewed this. In summary: Steve Morse does his best playing ever, which is really saying something, and the song “Peaceful Harbor” as awesometastically awesome.

10. Bill Mallonee and The Darkling Planes - Winnowing. Bill Mallonee is one of America’s greatest living songwriters. He is beyond prolific (releasing multiple EPs and full length albums each year), and just super awesome. He was in the group Vigilantes of Love, probably best known for their song “Struggleville,” which got quite a bit of play in the early 90s on adult contemporary radio. Winnowing is actually not my favorite of his most recent projects, being a little darker than both Amber Waves and The Power + The Glory, which feature the amazing songs “Faith (It Comes Soaked In Gasoline)” and “Just To Feel The Heat,” respectively. He’s a national treasure, and everyone should be buying his albums and seeing him perform.


Honorable mentions:

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin IV remasters. Led Zeppelin IV is my favorite album ever. “When The Levee Breaks” is the best thing anyone has ever committed to tape, and basically pure sex. I got the first three albums when they were released this past spring, and was just sort of playing them in order as I did some work around the house (ie., reading comic books.) Then “Whole Lotta Love” came on, and I said “Holy shit!” (I seem to say that a lot.) I like to think that my response is how people first heard it back in 1969.

Iron Maiden - 80s album and single releases on vinyl. The coolest album covers ever. Hands down. Especially Somewhere In Time. I skipped a few meals over the last few months, but I got them all. So worth it. The best news about them: Maiden’s announcement that they marked the end of the catalog reissues and “classic” tours commemorating Live After Death and Maiden England, freeing them to focus on the future. Since their post-Bruce reunion output has been stellar, this is fantastic to hear.

So, that’s my list of my favorite albums of the year. I don’t have a list of the worst, although Pink Floyd - The Endless River might be on my “Marginal Disappointments Because It Should Have Been Much Awesomer, But It’s Still OK” list. Go buy them. And maybe pick up my new EP Connection, Pt. 1, if I manage to get it out in the next week or so.

PS: I just got Haken - Restoration and it’s freaking amazing. So is Little Histories, the new one from Cloudkicker. Progressive rock awesomeness, both of which should be on this list, but I can’t think of what else I want to kick off, and I already cheated.

Brad Reviews Stuff - Sterling by Music Man JP70


Originally published at ZRock'R magazine online:




%20">Sterling by Music Man JP70 7-String Electric Guitar by Brad Bailey

I used to be in the Army. My job was “Guitar Player.” One of my additional duties was apparently convincing my (non-guitar-playing) supervisors of my need for various equipment. I had submitted a purchase request for an Ernie Ball/Music Man John Petrucci model 7-string guitar. My boss was a tuba player. His question: “Why do you need a 7-string guitar, SGT Bailey?” My response: “Sir, it allows for five more half-steps of rockin’.” And, in one moment, my commander forever endeared himself to me with these words: “Well, f*$%in’ order it.” The preceding story doesn’t have much to do with this article; I just really wanted to tell you about it, because it was awesome.

Now, down to business. 7-string guitars are generally tuned (low to high) B-E-A-D-G-B-E, with the lowest string being the B below the standard E sixth string. This tuning probably started with Steve Vai, who was the first well known proponent of extended range guitars in the rock world. Jazz guitarist George Van Eps tuned his seventh string to A an octave below the fifth string, presumably to facilitate accompanying himself in solo performances. In interviews, Vai has said that he developed his concept without knowledge of Van Eps’ history with the instrument, and the B tuning just made sense to him due to its replication of the top two strings. In my own performances, since I am often covering bass lines as well as typical guitar ranges, the 7-string is made in heaven for me.

Sterling by Music Man is the economy brand of American-made Ernie Ball/Music Man guitars. SBMMs are assembled overseas, but setup in California before being shipped to stores. Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci’s signature models have been Music Man’s best selling guitars for years, but are fairly expensive, ranging from $2200-$3500. The most expensive SBMM model maxes out around $800, and they have many from $400-$600. I have played Music Man’s top of the line JPX model, in both 6- and 7-string iterations, as my main instrument, so I feel I am able to compare the SBMM version. The Sterling version has simpler electronics, eschewing the piezo acoustic pickup of the flagship versions. They are available with the standard, “designed by DiMarzio” pickups, or in the “D-series,” the actual DiMarzio Crunch Lab and Liquifire pickups that were included on the high end models. My guitar came with the standard pickups, and they sound fantastic. I absolutely love the neck pickup with a clean sound, as well on more singing distorted lead tones. The bridge pickup is just what I need for crunchy rhythm parts, and more biting solos. In my music, I am constantly switching pickups to differentiate parts in my layered compositions, and am completely satisfied with the differentiation between the pickups.

But, since it’s manufactured overseas, isn’t the quality suffering? No. Shoot no. Heck no. Its tolerances are extremely high, and the finish on my %20">Translucent Purple Burst JP70 is gorgeous. I feel like my guitar is a $1500 instrument which I obtained for $650. It comes set up for a low action to accommodate Petrucci’s fire-breathing shred style. I am by no means a shredder, but this is one of the most effortless instruments I’ve ever had the good fortune to play. The neck takes a bit of getting used to if you haven’t plead a seven before, especially if you are used to playing with your thumb over the top, Hendrix-style. I can still reinforce bends that way, but fretting notes with my thumb would be problematic. It’s quite a different beast from a six string, even another Petrucci model. The JP70 comes with a basswood body, a maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard. It’s locking tuners do an excellent job keeping the instrument in tune, even with ample use of the floating tremolo, which is equivalent to a modern Strat-style bridge. 24 frets, with a very comfortable 16” fretboard radius. The body as a unique carve in the upper body to allow for more comfort for your picking arm.

I have used the %20">Sterling by Music Man JP70 seven string and JP50 six string guitars in rock, metal, country, pop, electronic, and even jazz; it is quite versatile, although it was definitely designed as a rock and metal machine. I admit to being a bit of a snob in regards to Epiphone vs. Gibson and Squier vs. Fender, but I absolutely have no issues with proudly saying the Sterling version is my main guitar. I am convinced that it is far and away the best mid-range guitar on the market, and easily competes with guitars twice its price or more.

"Events of the Morning" - remembering

ZRock'R Magazine


I recently started writing for a music magazine based here in Las Vegas, but with a worldwide reach. ZRock' has all the rock and metal you could want.

I am writing a gear review column for them, as well as the occasional album review. And whatever other randomness they happen to allow.

Many thanks to my friend Jon Mills for recommending me. And for having too many gigs to be able to keep up. :)

Brad Reviews Stuff - Dream Theater - The Studio Albums 1992-2011

Chris Letchford - Lightbox


Chris Letchford is the guitarist/main songwriter for the progressive metal band Scale The Summit. One of my all time favorites, and they keep releasing better and better music. Chris released his first solo album yesterday. Lightbox is quite a departure from what one might expect; a contemporary jazz project with only slight echoes of the progressive leanings of STS. Beautiful music, flawlessly executed, with wonderful interaction between the piano and electric guitars. I definitely recommend you pick this up.


Also, voting continues for the JukeBox Hero contest for a chance to open for Styx, Foreigner, and Don Felder. You can vote HERE every 24 hours. I have been completely floored by the massive outpouring of support. Thank you so much.

Vote for Brad!


So, I entered a contest to possibly be the opening act for the Soundtrack of Summer Tour featuring Styx, Foreigner, and Don Felder, on their stop in Las Vegas. I'd appreciate if you could click here and vote for me. Brad Bailey. You don't have to register, give them your email, or anything. Go to the page and click the little white dot next to my name.

Many thanks and much love,


Burn out


Sometimes we get tired of what we're doing. I play guitar and compose music, which is pretty much the greatest thing in the world, and sometimes I don't want to do it any more.

Led Zeppelin reissues


So, last night I hung at at Zia Records tip midnight...

Maybe you want to give this a listen



Today I was blessed to see my youngest daughter, Faith, receive an award for being a part of the Drama Kids program at her school. After, I asked her to take a picture with me and she threw her arms around me. Such a great day.




Last night was the premiere of 24: Live Another Day. I haven't watched it yet as I was working on vocals for the new album. (You should click here and preorder it.)

Back in January of 2006, I was days away from clearing post at Fort Knox, where I had been stationed...

Tycho - Awake

Brad Goes to the Movies


Today I got to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was phenomenal. Easily the best standalone Avengers movie, and I might have liked it even better than The Avengers. It's a political thriller, and very well done, an inventive approach to the superhero genre. I had to see it today, because the next episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D came out today and I heard that it continues the story. Which is another awesome thing: I love how they've been integrating the movies with the TV series. I'm not sure that anything like that has ever been done before on this level.

New Music Tuesday - Andy McKee - Mythmaker


It's still Tuesday here, and I just now had the chance to listen to Mythmaker, the new EP from the amazing guitarist Andy McKee.

Animals As Leaders - The Joy of Motion


It's barely April and I have what might be my favorite album of the whole year.

Free download of Earthbound


I know it's that day where some folks do stuff that might not be up and up. That's not what this is.

I want you to get a free download of my first album, Earthbound. Feel free to share the link with anyone you know who likes acoustic guitar, and mellow, chill music. 

Choose the download version, click to purchase. It will ask you to decide how much to enter. Please, do not hesitate to enter "$0.00." I would love for you to have Earthbound. If you want to pay for it, that would be cool also. But not necessary. For reals, y'all.

I hope you had a great March, and are ready to totally crush it in April.

I hope you forgive me for using the phrase "totally crush it."

I hope.

That Wasn't Its Name


OK, I'm supper excited about this. Last week I performed one of the new songs from my forthcoming CD, Connection...

I look like I'm concentrating really hard. is a really cool thing here in Vegas. My buddy Mike Ziethlow has put together an open mic event that also provides photos, videos, and recordings to artists free of charge. It's a really cool thing. Last week I went for the first time in over a year.

Mainly, I'm happy that I can wear that t-shirt without a bigger shirt over it.



Almost Normal - In Technicolor


Almost Normal has just released a brand new EP, In Technicolor.

Songs 4 Soldiers

A new girl


Today I drove to California to see a good friend, Dan.

The Rookie


I grew up wanting to play music. First drums, then guitar. I went to school to study classical guitar. But I didn't rely know what to do from there.

Happy Birthday to my stepmom, Cherri Bailey

"Events of the... Evening?"


Tonight is the night. Las Vegas. The Dive Bar (Maryland Parkway and Flamingo Road). Powered Wig Machine, Resurrection, and Brad Bailey bringing the rock.

I'm shamelessly including a video of a piece I might be performing tonight.

New interview



I'm sitting in a room, surrounded by art. I really want you to see it. 

A few months ago, I worked on the crew that built the main stage for the Life is Beautiful festival in downtown Las Vegas. Sometime around then I saw an amazing photo from the event. It's just breathtaking. You don't even know. Anyways, I did some digging and discovered that it was by Cameron Grant. I followed him on Facebook and looked around a bit, but sort of let it go.

A few months later, I saw a post that Cameron was looking for people to work in his brand new gallery, and I jumped at the opportunity. Now, my skill set is pretty much playing guitar and being awesome, so I don't know much about art. But I knew that I wanted to be surrounded by these amazing works.

So here I am. Inside The High Points Gallery at The Container Park in downtown Vegas. I'm being inspired, and I'm excited for you to see these amazing images. 

Next Show - March 13th Powered Wig Machine in Las Vegas!


I'm really excited to tell you about my next show. This Thursday night in Las Vegas, at the Dive Bar, I'm playing with some good friends of mine, the awesome Powered Wig Machine.

I met the guys when I was stationed at Fort Huachuca, near Sierra Vista, AZ. Joe Rudell got me my first gigs in town, and was always really supportive, going so far as to show up at the venue even when he couldn't stay for the set.

They're a killer band, and I really want you to come out and see them on their tour.

Powered Wig Machine

Thursday, March 13

Las Vegas, NV

Maryland Pkwy and Flamingo Rd.



You also really need to check out their brand new album, Supa Collider.

Where've I Been?


Where have I been? Here, plugging away. Taken a few breaks from recording for various reasons, but still working on Connection, which you can pre-order HERE. There are some fantastic sounds that I can't wait for you to hear. One of them sort of sounds like a cross between a piano and a 12-string guitar.

I recently got a new 7-string guitar for my birthday/Christmas and have already started incorporating it in my music.

In January, I will be opening for guitar legend Michael Schenker, formerly of Scorpions and UFO. January 9th at LVCS in downtown Vegas. I'm so excited for this. If you're interested in tickets, email me through the site, or message me on my Facebook page.

In the studio - Day 2


Here's a quick glimpse into some of what I'm doing with the new album. In the background is some of the new music. Check it out.


Connection - Day 1


My workstation for recording the new disc.

Black Sabbath


Sunday night I was given the opportunity to see Black Sabbath's concert thanks to Rock 4 Recovery.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but they were fantastic. Great light show, fantastic sound, and they played all my favorites. I was really impressed by the songs off of their new album, 13. I just wish they had played more of them.

I'm still mystified by the decision to have a DJ as the opening act, playing classic metal tunes, and air-drumming and air-guitar'ing. But it certainly wasn't enough to damage my enjoyment of this amazing show.

Joe Satriani and Steve Morse


Friday night I finally had the opportunity to see two of my guitar heroes, Joe Satriani and Steve Morse. Both are amazing players, and both impressed me even more live than on their albums.

The best part, though, was getting to bring my oldest daughter, Grace. She loved it, and was asking for my Satch and Morse CDs on the way home.

You need to get out there and see live music. I need to get out there and see it. Point taken.

In the studio


Got some things set up in my studio last night. Wanted y'all to see that I actually am working on Connection. Recording some demos to prepare for when I go to record for real. This picture captures me working on "Events of the Morning."

Earthbound CD back in stock


I know it's been frustrating to not be able to order the Earthbound CD from me. Well, the problem is solved. It will be back in stock around August 22. It's still available in all the usual digital places.

Work is still taking place on the new album, Connection. I'm really excited to hear what you think of it.

Natalie Goldberg - Writing Down The Bones

Las Vegas Folk/Punk Fest



Last night I played the Las Vegas Folk Punk Fest. A bunch of local bands from the Vegas acoustic music scene played, as well as a couple of touring acts. A highlight for me was finally getting to play a show with one of my favorite bands here in town, The All-Togethers.

I went into this not knowing much about the folk-punk scene. I didn't even know there was a folk-punk scene. But I was really impressed by some of the things I saw.

The organizer, Dylan Faircloth, really believes in this music. He put on a festival as a house show. Trust me, that requires some serious dedication. And he brought in a pretty substantial crowd.

One of the other artists on the bill, Logan Greene Electric, was taking a really hard core DIY approach to his latest CD. As we waited to go on, he was burning CDs, which his tour mate had stenciled the artwork on. The material had all been recorded just a few weeks before. It was a really ingenious approach, and definitely gave me some ideas for future projects.

The best thing about the show, for me, was just getting up with my guitar, and people gathering around close to hear me play and sing. Only a couple had ever heard me before, but they were all right in my face as I shared my music with them. A great night overall.

Fretboard Freedom by Troy Nelson


I'm always looking for something new to motivate me to improve my playing. So on my latest trip to the guitar store, I was happy to come across Fretboard Freedom, a new book from Troy Nelson.

This will mainly be for my guitar people.

I've been playing guitar for about 25 years. Much of that time, I was stuck in boxes. I learned the standard pentatonic (greek for "five note") scale box, and used almost only that for several years. (Think the first phrase of Jimmy Page's solo from "Stairway to Heaven.") Sometimes I'd break out of it, but that was always home base. Even when I had to play jazz, I'd almost always rely on the minor pentatonic scale pattern.

I had difficulty visualizing the fretboard as a whole. I tried a bunch of different tricks. But I still see it in boxes.

Troy Nelson, former editor of my favorite guitar magazines, has come up with a method to get out of that rut. In Fretboard Freedom, he's come up with a daily practice regimen to help us box-imprisoned pickers to get out of the box, and also to see how the patterns relate to different chords.

Nelson takes a chord-based approach, rather than scalar. The reasoning being that chord tone focused playing enables us to outline the chord changes of the music we're playing.

For me, one of the best parts of the book is its organization. Something new to work on every day. I'm one of those who needs a methodical approach, and Nelson delivers here. Each week focuses on a new key center. First up, he gives the chord voicings, arpeggio, and scale pattern that everything will be built from. Then there's a lick based off of a chord voicing. The next few lessons are the same lick reworked in different fretboard positions, built off of different chord voicings. Towards the end of the week he changes things up.

I'm already finding Fretboard Freedom to be very helpful. The set schedule has motivated me to be more consistent in my practicing, and I'm already making connections that had escaped me the last 20 odd years.

Here's the Amazon link.



Connection. That's going to be the title of my next CD, which will be out in the fall. It will have solo acoustic guitar pieces, electric soundscapes, and even an actual song or two. You know, with words and stuff.

I realized that all of my music was born out of relationships. Some thriving, some broken. Connections with other people.

Connection. When it comes down to it, that's why I make music. To connect with you, and share some of that spirit and life.

I'm taking preorders now, which will help fund the completion of Connection. Click here to preorder your copy now, and you'll be among the first to hear it.

Thank you for your encouragement and love. Words fail to describe what it means to me.

Brad Reviews Stuff - Episode 1 - Scale the Summit - The Migration


From time to time, I'm going to review some music, books, movies, or gear. I'm also going to assume that this will be of some interest to you. First up, the new album from Scale The Summit, The Migration.


Scale The Summit - The Migration

I first discovered Scale The Summit when it was announced that they would be a part of the first Prog Nation tour. I downloaded "Bloom," the first track off of their second album, Carving Desert Canyons, to check them out. I wasn't really paying attention when it came on, then boom. I was blown away. Soaring melodies, rich guitar tones, tight bass and drums; I was hooked. (Warning: I'm kind of a fanboy.)

The Migration, their latest set, is admittedly not much of a departure from the style of their previous releases. This is not at all a bad thing; I'm a huge fan of their melodic instrumental "adventure metal." This disc was produced by the band and Jamie King, and tonally it is a step up from their last disc, The Collective. Although made up of blazing players, STS never relies on shredding for shredding's sake. They have a strong melodic sense, and it carries through all the tracks on the album.

I can't recommend The Migration highly enough. Fantastic instrumentals, flawless performances, and no annoying vocals.


Get it at the band's store, iTunes, and Amazon. And check them out at

Father of the Year


Father of the Year


This song came from not being all I wanted to be for my kids. There's always hope. It's not too late to do better.

Back Home


Just got back from my first mini tour. Played music for new people, and was able to see some old Army buddies. Thank you for supporting my dream. So much of what I do is only possible because of your encouragement.

In other news, go get the new album "The Migration" by the awesome band Scale the Summit. Melodic instrumental music. It's on iTunes and everywhere else.

Why Are You Doing This?


Seriously, I don't know what's wrong with me. Almost two months since my last blog post.

Anyway, moving forward.

I play guitar. I create music. I also try and teach people how to do these things, too. 

My first question to my students is always "Why do you want to play guitar?" And I'm always amazed when, quite often, they don't have an answer beyond "My parents want me to." And somehow, their parents are angry that they don't make progress. 

Now, I will take their money. I'm not yet at the place where I can fire students for wasting our time. I'll sit with them for their scheduled time and keep trying to reteach the thing I taught them the week before, which they forgot because they didn't practice. I'll try and get them interested in playing enough to motivate them. But if they don't know why they are playing guitar, or worse, they don't particularly want to, I'm not going to be able to do much for them.

I used to have this idea that I would teach my kids to play guitar, but they just weren't that interested. I figured our time was better spent playing Legos or princesses with them, as opposed to frustrating them and me. Finally, my 14-year old is interested in learning. She loves music, and wants to play what her favorite bands are playing. She takes the initiative to find music to study. She practices because she wants to, not because I said she has to for a half hour a day.

I play guitar. I create music.

I don't have a regular job. I stay out late watching other musicians when I'm not playing my own shows. I practice, compose, and write lyrics much of the day.

"Why are you doing this?" Normal people see that as laziness, lack of ambition, moral laxity.

I don't make music because I want to. I have to. It's who I am, who I was made to be. Trust me, I don't want to be out. If I could just stay home and be successful, I would.

So, since I'm made to do it, I'm going to do it. Keep fighting, keep pushing forward. 




Still alive and practicing full contact awesomeness

I am overtaking YouTube! Feel my wrath!


I have finally started a youtube page. My first video is available here. It features my songs "Father of the Year" and "Events of the Morning." I'd love to know what you think of it.



Today I turn 36. To celebrate, I'm giving away free downloads of the new album, Earthbound. Go to and get it. Thanks for all the love and encouragement.

New article - Beg, Borrow, and Steal


My new column at is up now.

Earthbound - The Actual CD is Here!


Been a while since my last blog post. Sorry.


The actual CDs of Earthbound are here. It looks great. You should all go to the button on the side, or the store page, and buy one. It will be awesome.


I'm now teaching at Ensemble Arts Academy on the Northwest side of Las Vegas. They're good people.


The next booked gigs are December 1 at Shifty's, and December 27 at Whiskey Dick's. I'm hoping to have a few more come in, and I'll keep you posted.

Ensemble Arts Academy


I will be an instructor at Ensemble Arts Academy in Las Vegas, NV.

Earthbound liner notes


I wanted to share with you the liner notes from Earthbound, since it hasn't been released on actual CD yet.

Earthbound - digitally available now!


Well, you can finally buy Earthbound on iTunes and CDBaby, with other digital retailers soon to follow.

Earthbound - The Cover


Here is the cover art for Earthbound.

The Desert Winds


A large part of my job the last nine years was to play percussion in concert band.



I have a CD coming out. (Earthbound. It's awesome. You should totally buy it. There's a link at the side of the page at I'll wait.) Near 1000 facebook friends. 700 some odd twitter followers. A cool website. But I still don't really know what to do to make this whole music career thing happen.



I was in the Army for 8 years, 11 months, and 27 days.

Events of the Morning


September 11, 2001, I woke up early with my son, who was just 3 months old or so.



The new CD, Earthbound, was sort of an accident. A few months back, I bought the TASCAM iM-2, a microphone that connects to your iPhone or iPad. As I was packing for a family trip to Colorado, I threw the mic into my guitar case. On the drive up, I thought, "Maybe I should try and record something each day." So, after I got the kids to bed each day, I went outside and sat on the porch, pushed record, and started to play. I thought I could put them up on Soundcloud or something, give people something to listen to. Then I really started liking what I was doing. "I could turn this into a CD."

I had been telling myself I would record an album for a couple of years. You may have noticed that Earthbound is my first CD. Exactly. I had a flash, that I could do this. I had to do this. I got really clear about it. It's amazing what happens when you are really clear in your mind about what you want.

I remembered that Ty Tabor, of the amazing band King's X, does mastering projects when he's not busy being the guitar player in one of the best bands ever, so I went to his studio's site and got the ball rolling. This was when I knew, "This is really happening." I took a step towards the goal, and all of the sudden felt like I was rolling down the hill.

So. I had planned for years that my CD would have my vocal songs on it. All those passionate tunes that I sweated and agonized over. But what happened was six nights turned into a new vision for what my music could be. Still passionate, heartfelt; but also raw and in the

Guitars, Guns, and Helicopters


Guitars, Guns, and Helicopters. Lots of awesomeness.



Hey there, friends, family, and other friends. I have some very cool things on the horizon that I want to tell you about.

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