The Norman Transcript

Sound Advice by Doug Hill

September 7, 2013

Brad Fielder's songs a remarkable insight into life

“In my songs I like to twist real life stories into fiction just to protect the innocent,” Brad Fielder said.

The Norman singer/songwriter will be performing those compositions during his Blue Bonnet Bar show Monday evening. Fielder possesses an impressive talent that includes close observation and a knack for not discounting the gritty details all around us. He’s a believer in being able to write a song from just about anything and that practice hones the craft.

“I try to write a song or two a week if I can,” Fielder said.

This habit began nearly two decades ago and he has no idea how many tunes populate his extensive songbook.

Fielder even has a song about writing songs called “Laundry List.” He’s going to write  song about dying: “…write me a song about whiskey, write me song about a woman.” You get the idea. The refrain goes on for three minutes to include Jesus, a truck, a baby, hard drugs, family, abortion, politics, religion, trains, county jail, a dog and more. It’s a good song because Fielder works smart.

“I’d rather tell the truth and make people understand exactly what I mean in a song than try to paint a pretty picture that’s really a piece of s---,” he said. “I think they’d rather hear an honest story.”

No trust fund kid, Fielder has worked the kinds of factory and service jobs that provide plenty of the sweet or rotten slices from real life.

“I love hearing people’s stories and figuring out what’s going on in their lives,” he said.

Putting those tales to music is his passion and that comes across loud and clear.       

Fielder belongs to a song writing collective called the 52 Week Club. A theme, title or set of words is sent out weekly with the challenge being to compose from the provided cue.

“I got heavy into that last year,” Fielder said.

One of his intriguing songs called “Lipstick Covered Roaches” came about that way. It’s a raucous blues rock tune about the kind of gal who might bean you with a beer pitcher if you look at her cross-eyed.

“I started out writing for the various bands and projects I’ve been in, then solo stuff,” he said. “It’s been for pretty much every genre of music.”

Early 30-ish now, Fielder moved to Norman from Enid soon after high school because band mates migrated here. Playing with the Rockumentalists, the Metered Spirits, ska outfit Magnificent Seven and Ryan Lawson are on his resume.

Now he mostly plays solo or in $69 Guitar, a duo with sweetheart Kelly Stevens. Fielder has learned a lot about performing for live audiences from these experiences. Like songwriting, practice is key to improving.

“If you go on stage unprepared you’re going to fail every time,” he said. “You have to give as much to the audience as you can and not just stand up there motionless blandly going through the song and expect people to love it.”

Entertaining and making listeners understand that he cares about the songs is part of Fielder’s credo.

“Lately I’ve been using more electric guitar for a swampy sound that’s thick and heavy,” he said. “Brooding guitar with lots of reverb and delay for an ominous vibe is what I’ve been working on.”

Along with guitar, naturally, is Fielder’s voice. The sound that comes out of his pipes isn’t typically what makes tween girls swoon. It’s a masculine voice nonetheless with distinctive character capable of expressing intense emotion and sincerity. Fielder chuckled good naturedly when asked to describe what it sounds like.

“I’m fully aware that my singing voice definitely brings out my Okie accent,’’ he said. “I have some not quite yodel but high-pitched twang that comes out of me without even trying.”

Fielder’s never tried to pretty-up his singing. It’s a force he’s comfortable with and should be because it’s unique and fits perfectly the material he performs like an old pair of favorite boots. From listening to his songs it’s apparent that Fielder enjoys his place in Norman’s music scene.

“I like the fact that I’ve mainly gone back to being a solo artist,” he said. “I can write and play songs the way I want to. I don’t have to compromise by playing with a band and it makes me have to be the best I can be.”

If You Go

What: Brad Fielder in concert opening for The Dad Horse Experience (“Left of Heaven gospel from Germany.”)

Where: The Blue Bonnet Bar, 321 E. Main St.

When: 9 p.m. Sept. 16

Cost: $5           

Brad Fielder's songs are a fearless slice of real life.


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Sound Advice by Doug Hill