WOODSTOCK – Singer/songwriter Brad Cole just wants to connect. Traveling throughout the year to play at performing arts centers, bars and house concerts, Cole is grateful for the opportunity of connection that life on the road has to offer.
“It’s always great to connect with new towns and new people. It’s a real plus for me being on the road,” said Cole. “Music is a people game. Who’s playing, who’s listening, that always creates a unique situation for someone like me. I’ll play with different musicians within a year. When I go to a new town, I pick up people to play and that makes it really unique and fresh and keeps it really truly live. I get to play with a lot of different people and it seems like each show is really unique.”
Cole will make his introduction to the people of Woodstock at his performance at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Woodstock Opera House’s Stage Left Café. Cole said he looks forward to taking the more intimate stage of Stage Left over the looming stage of the opera house.
“I get to play at Stage Left because I’m a lucky guy,” Cole said. “One of my fans is very keen on Woodstock and told me I needed to come here and play, that it was a great venue for me. I told him I wasn’t famous and I couldn’t fill the opera house and he told me ‘then you can play Stage Left.’ I’m really looking forward to playing there and getting to know Woodstock.”
The Chicago native is now based in New York and has been playing guitar and singing since college. His first performance was a 1987 show in Chicago at Batteries Not Included, with his band, called Treatment. For most of his music career, Cole maintained a corporate gig until about 10 years ago, when he left the world of financial business to do music full time. Cole said he did it because he “had to,” but still is holding his breath.
“I saved enough money to put my daughter through college and then I said goodbye to the corporate world,” Cole said. “The most important thing was that I knew if anyone was going to take me seriously as a musician, I would have to take myself seriously first. I held my breath and made the move. I’m still holding my breath.”
Cole plays shows acoustically, as well as with additional accompaniment, giving his sound a wide range, depending on where and who he’s playing with. He describes his sound as Soul Americana and American Roots Music with more to do with Detroit and Chicago than Appalachia.
“I have a lot of soul and jazz influences in what I do. I’m just trying to get at the truth,” Cole said. “The sound is about who I’m playing with. If I do a solo show with acoustic guitar it’s more folky. If I have the band, it’s more of a jazz, groove, edge.”
Cole’s Stage Left performance will feature him on guitar and vocals with accompaniment by a bass player and a drummer. Cole released his fourth full-length record in early 2017, titled “Lay It Down” perhaps Cole’s most soulfully eclectic and cohesive work to date.
“We like to blow people’s minds when we can, but we also like to connect and we like to connect on lots of levels,” Cole said. “Heart, soul, shaking your ass, all of those are usually the goals. People listen for different reasons, so it’s all about finding what that is and making it happen for them.”