KDHX presents Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys at The Stage, July 31 at 8pm. Tickets available online.
Born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri, Folk remembers watching his Dad pick the country blues on a 1966 D35 Martin guitar, the same guitar he plays today. He listened to Bluegrass and Country music from a young age and got his first guitar at age 14. After High School, he traveled to South America for a year where he played and sang from the streets of Argentina to the mountains of Chile. When he returned home to Missouri, he headed west on his motorcycle, chasing pretty girls to the mountains of Carbondale, Colorado.
By 1999, Folk was living in a tiny homesteader cabin in Northern Colorado, working as a herdsmen on a dairy farm and driving to bluegrass gigs in his 72’ Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Folk played with various groups around town and soon, he and Caleb Roberts, a Carolina native and mandolin player, combined their passion for old hillbilly music and formed a bluegrass band called Open Road. They became known for playing high-energy, traditional Bluegrass music in Stetson hats and dark suits. Their dress, like their music, was uncommon in Colorado and they quickly gained attention from a variety of audiences. Within a couple of years, Open Road was signed to independent label, Rounder Records, and maintained a busy tour schedule. During their tenure at Rounder, Open Road released three records. The band had a bright future, a large fan base and critical acclaim for their rooted, but street-smart approach to traditional music.
After Open Road’s final release in 2006, Folk left the life of a touring musician. He and a few close friends opened a honky tonk bar in Laporte, Colorado called The Swing Station. Folk helped build community support for local music with live bands almost every night of the week and he hosted a weekly bluegrass jam. Not only was the Swing Station an important hang-out for local musicians, it became a destination for nationally touring bands like Asleep At The Wheel, Hank Thompson, James King, Danny Paisley, and Wayne Hancock to name a few. When he wasn’t booking bands, bartending, or working on building maintenance, Folk continued to play music with the bar house bands two or three nights a week. After five years, Folk sold the bar unsure of what was next.
Folk now resides in Nashville, Tennessee, a place that has challenged his intentions with music more than ever. Still an outsider here, he is not of Nashville, and he knows it. In spite of this, Folk’s new band, The Bluegrass Playboys, will release a record this fall. His new songs are honest reflections on his own life, it’s Bluegrass, full of contradictions, much like Bradford Lee Folk himself.
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