My Polish mom was a drum majorette at Bowen High School. Twirled the baton and lead the marching band on the football field and in parades. Also played clarinet in the orchestra. Later on in life, she had sung the occasional song with the local lounge ensembles. She was also a rather accomplished ballroom dancer. I learned the Swing, Foxtrot, Waltz, Cha-Cha and Charleston from her. She played a bit of piano, the "big note" versions of Christmas carols every year. She also encouraged (and financed) accordion lessons, tap dancing lessons, bongo lessons…all manner of records and Hi-fi systems. Eventually she endured uke, banjo, conga and guitar.
Here's a picture of my parents, just before they got married, probably 1942. Claude Brady & Irene Naperalski. She was just out of High School and he had just enlisted in the Marines.
My dad was a hard working boilermaker all his life, but had a romantic streak and a great sense of humor and opened a bar after he retired…"BRADY'S CLOVER ROOM" on Long Beach Boulevard in Lynwood, California. He had a piano bar, weeknights, and, sometimes, bands on the weekends. He also whistled very well…good intonation and a beautiful vibrato…the real deal.
Through a rather random series of events, and the encouragement of my friend, Tom Newbill, I started teaching guitar 1964. Apparently, I took to it. I managed to finish college but my life was music, teaching and playing in bands. I currently teach at the Guitar Shoppe, Laguna Beach, and Perkins Music, Irvine, both in California. "To teach is to learn twice"…still lovin' it after all these years. (See "Student Pix")
1964-65 I worked at the Golden Bear, a coffee house/music hall in Huntington Beach. I worked in the kitchen, ran lights, played open mic nights. In love with music. Trying to absorb the guitar. Inspired by live music most every night by the likes of: Ian & Sylvia, Steve Gillette, Hoyt Axton, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry, Steve Mann, Dick Rosmini, Pat Paulsen, Stan Getz, Jose Feliciano, John Handy…(little did I know, ten years later, a band I was in, HONK, would pack the house).
HONK-Golden Bear-1974- Willy-accordion, Craig Buhler-Clarinet & Steve Wood-accordion
1964-2007-Bands and Bands.
1964-65 THE BLAZERS-a Surf/Rock band from Fullerton-featuring Bob & Tim Reilly, Steve Omalev, Chris Holguin & myself, playing school dances and "Battle of the Bands" type-things. (see "stories") My first band adventure. (No picture available-mercifully).
1965-66 HOGWASH-The first band I was in that actually had an ongoing gig, the "Velvet Hog," next to Cal State Fullerton. A trio feathering Rusty Wilson, Bart Tunick & myself.
1966-68 READYMIX-an eclectic bunch also from Fullerton featuring Bob Reilly, Arthur "Scooter" Goldstein (now an accomplished classical pianist out of Penn State), Reginald Loudermilk III and myself.
1969-71 SMILEY CAYUCOS at Wind & Sea, Dana Point-a folksy (and wacky) "buddy band" out of Laguna Beach featuring Tom Newbill, Pat Ball & yours truly. We played all kinds of songs. It was all new ground.
1972-74 played bass with HONK, a couple albums, toured with the Beach Boys, Loggins & Messina-featuring Beth Fitchet, Steve Wood, Richard Stekol, Craig Buhler, Tris Imboden, Nate Wood & myself. The band still plays a couple gigs a year…always fun and cookin'.
Willy-playing bass with Honk at the CoachHouse
Rick Griffin Poster
1975-79 STORYVILLE-another eclectic conglomeration-featuring (in various combinations) Craig Buhler, Jack Prather, John Ferraro, Karen Hammack, Brian Atkinson, Dan Barrett, Mike McKinley, Paul Kreibich, Richard Stekol & myself.
STORYVILLE-Quartet with John Ferraro
STORYVILLE-Quintet with Karen Hammack & Paul Kriebich
Queen Mary poster with Tierra
About 1980 I started "SIX-PACK RECORDING," in my apartment in Laguna Canyon. At $5 an hour, I recorded local songwriters, jazz groups, voice-overs.
Rusty Richards of the "Sons of the Pioneers" recorded several wonderful sessions of his own songs. He was a real cowboy and his lyrics were about rodeos, horses and sunsets, complete with yodeling.
The first full-length project to emerge from Six-Pack was Jonita Beede, "Coastin'"-produced by Kris Landers.
Jonita Beede, recording vocals in the kitchen.
Willy, Bob Hawkins & Mike Hamilton cutting tracks
I also produced an album of "FUN, live at the Studio Café," featuring Mark Turnbull, Don Willeford, Jim Cruce, Al Mahafey and Jack Prather. The late Don Willeford was an unbelievable viola player: lyrical, adventurous and totally swingin'. Mark was also in full stride as a writer and player and the band lived up to its name.
About the same time I co-produced "AUTUMN TO MAY," with Beth Fitchet. A fine collection of children's songs with Beth singin' great and a spirited group of musicians (and sound FX) to back her up. It is now part of a compilation available at Beth's website: bethfitchetwood.com
AUTUMN TO MAY original cover (vinyl LP)
Later on Beth & I co-wrote a series of children's educational videos that won a "Merit of Excellence" award from the American Film Institute.
1981-1982 THE BEACHTOWN VOLUNTEERS-The ten-piece "Volunteers" was sort a production workshop for me. We put on shows mostly at The Sandpiper Lounge in Laguna Beach. The band included, at one time or another: Brian Atkinson, Bill Baker, Dan Barrett, Karin Benson, Will Brady, Craig Buhler, Kenny Clark, Frank Cotinola, V ince Denham, Art Dragon, Bob Hawkins, Dave LaFavre, Matt Magiera, Sue Magiera, Poul Pedersen, Jodi Siegel, Valerie Sullivan, Dave Wells, Beth Fitchet Wood and Steve Wood. In 2007 I released a CD of Karin Benson with this band. (see CD's on Homepage)
BEACHTOWN VOLUNTEERS at the Sandpiper
VOLUNTEERS-Don Hawkins, Craig Buhler & Brian Atkinson
1982-92 I worked with Jodi Siegel. We gigged, toured and wrote like crazy. Played lots of blues and originals both as a duo and as the BRADY-SIEGEL BLUES BAND. We put out one album, "Beer and Donuts," produced by Freebo.
With ALBERT KING at the CoachHouse
WILLY & JODI rockin' at the Dana Point Cafe. Jodi is a terrific singer-player-writer. Check out her website: jodisiegel.com
1987-I was lucky to be a member of the National Award Winning cast of "Quilters"-representing the United States in the "Maytime Drama Festival" in Dundalk, Ireland. Mark Turnbull was the musical director.
QUILTERS 1988-Las Palmas Theater poster
QUILTERS-Ronald Reagan Letter
Here's a picture of the "Quilters" band: Cynthia Merrill-Bass & cello, Bob Hawkins-Guitar & mandolin, Will Brady-Banjo, accordion, dulcimer, harmonica, percussion & sound effects, Miriam Mayer-Violin.
AMSTERDAM w STEVE SAMUELS 1989-European tour with "The Steve Samuels Blues Band," Freebo-bass, Larry Vann-Drums, Myself-rhythm guitar and Steve playing lead-a very swingin' jump-blues guitar player. Check him out.
1993 to the present day I have been playing solo or with my wife, Sarah. Jim Schubert, a very cool mandolin player, often plays with us. Dave Cross & I played as a guitar duet for awhile (always fun). The Barry Kagan Combo played a few swingin' weddings.
WILLY & DAVE CROSS at Partner's Bistro, Laguna
BARRY KAGAN COMBO
I've produced and recorded 7 albums:
1994-"NEXT DOOR TO THE BLUES"-solo blues, guitar & vocals. Primative recording, spirited performances.
1997-"CAVEMAN BRAIN"-all original songs, guitar & vocals with trumpet-Brian Atkinson, tenor sax-Jim Gordon. I'm the rhythm section. Currently on the "All-Time Favorite" list by Midnight Special Blues Radio.
1999-"BOXWORK"-solo acoustic guitar instrumentals.
2002-"THE INSOMNIAC"-Bob Hare reciting his scathing-sweet-sardonic-goofy-intelligent poetry, with me providing music and sounds effects. Bob was the owner of "The Insomniac Coffee House & Supermarket of Culture" in the 1950's-60's. (see homepage for more info)
BOB HARE POSTER
2007-"Karin Benson with the Beachtown Volunteers" (Live at the Sandpiper Lounge, Laguna)
2007-"SWAY"-Sarah Brady, my sweetheart and wife, is a wonderful singer (not just my opinion). This CD is a peach blossom collection of positive songs from writers such as David Wilcox, James Taylor, Richard Stekol & Jack Tempchin. Accordion-Steve Wood, mandolin-Jim Schubert, Fender Rhodes-Karen Hammack, myself on guitar, bass & drums We went for lyrical, romantic arrangements. Originals include, "I Just Want To Make Lunch For You," and "I'm On My Way To Hanalei."
SARAH & WILLY AT THE MARINE ROOM
2009-"SOLO GUITAR"-another instrumental project.
In 2003 both myself and HONK were listed on "The Greatest OC Bands EVER!" in the OC Weekly.
In bands opening for: The Beach Boys, Loggins & Messina, Linda Ronstadt, Santana, Chicago, The Crusaders, Jackson Browne, Van Halen, Willie Bobo, Aerosmith, Donavon Frankenreiter, Ziggy Marley, Jimmy Buffet.
As a single (or with Jodi Siegel) opening for: Albert King, Robben Ford, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Charles Brown, Koko Taylor, Charlie Musselwhite, NRBQ, Junior Wells, Hubert Sumlin, "Pinetop" Perkins, The Yellowjackets, Acoustic Alchemy, David Wilcox, Eric Burdon, Roomful of Blues, James Harmon, Phoebe Snow, Leon Russell, Danny Gatton, Judy Henske, John Hammond Jr.