Brad Wilson to make his mark at Tuesday Night Blues

Brad Wilson

Brad Wilson debuts with Buddy Emmer’s Tuesday night blues session this week at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.

This week’s Tuesday Night Blues’ gunslinger Brad Wilson might wield a sword instead.

Performing in Tahoe on Halloween eve, Wilson recently played a costume party in his hometown where he appeared onstage dressed as Zorro, the masked swashbuckler vigilante. He said he might bring his black western outfit to his debut with the Buddy Emmer Blues Band’s weekly show at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.

For nearly five years, Emmer has served as the house band that has a featured artist, usually a guitarist. And in the parlance of the blues, a traveling guitar player is often referred to as a gunslinger – an expression used since Texas native Johnny Winter released “Guitar Slinger” in 1984.

Emmer, himself a Texas gunslinger until he settled in Reno, shares the stage each week with six-stringers such as Chris Cain, “Mighty Mike” Schermer, Daniel Castro and Richie Blue, who recommended Wilson to Emmer.

“I’ve been following Buddy’s blues jam, so I was thrilled to get the call,” said Wilson, who carries a Fender Stratocaster and a Sunburst Gibson Les Paul at his side. “It’s a great concept for the audience. If you are a fan of lead guitar, it’s exciting. Buddy Emmer’s going to rip it up and then I’m going to rip it up and then we’re going to get up there and have fun talking back and forth with our guitars.”

The leader of Brad Wilson & the Rollin’ Blues Thunder Band, Wilson is based in Visalia, California. He’s released three albums, “Blues Thunder,” “Power Blues Guitar Live” and his debut, “Hands on the Wheel.”

Wilson was a rock and roller as a youth, fortuitously located in the Bay Area. He frequented Bill Graham’s shows at Winterland, the Filmore Auditorium and Oakland Coliseum shows called Day on the Green.

“If you were going to come to see Thin Lizzy, he was also going to put Muddy Waters or Freddy King on the bill,” Wilson said. “A blues artist so the audience would understand the roots of the music that was influencing these artists.

“I’d go up there and be right at the front of the stage when Muddy Waters would be just ripping it up or Freddie King would just be tearing it up and I’d actually come there for Thin Lizzy or Humble Pie. Bill Graham would make sure that these artists were on the ticket so you could experience them. After seeing Mike Bloomfield and Freddie King, I immediately went home and asked if my parents could help me out with guitar lessons, which they did.”

After he became a professional musician, Wilson found work in Los Angeles. He made soundtracks for the John Carpenter movies “Vampires” and “Ghosts of Mars” and was music writer for the soap operas “Passion” and “The Days of Our Lives.”

That led to touring opportunities with Coco Montoya, Walter Trout, 38 Special and Cheap Trick. And that’s when he decided to move to centrally located Visalia, where he can easily travel to both Los Angeles and the Bay Area and the Northwest.

He is working with new technology on what would be his fourth album: software by Fishman that allows communication between a guitar and laptop computer, which creates sounds such as a grand piano, Hammond organ, a violin or an entire string orchestra.

“You spend so much time messing around on the guitar, inevitably it leads you to something fun and new,” Wilson said. “It’s not going to replace just plugging a guitar into an amp stuff but it gives you another color to paint with. It’s the future of the guitar. I am going to try and make traditional roots music with this technology. It’s something that will introduce kids in their teens and 20s to guitar in a different light.”

In the meanwhile, Wilson will play onstage at Lake Tahoe with the Buddy Emmer Blues Band for the first time. He will perform songs from each of his three albums along with blues standards in a jam with Emmer that can lead to all sorts of improvisations and surprises.

— Tim Parsons

  • Tuesday Night Blues
    with the Buddy Emmer Blues Band
    8 p.m. to 11 at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe
    Oct. 30 — Brad Wilson
    Nov. 6 — Richie Blue
    Nov. 13 — Tony Ghigilieri
    Nov. 20 — Joe Grissino
    Nov. 27 — Jeff Watson

Brad Wilson

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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