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Who is Brad Vickers?

Guitarist/songwriter Brad Vickers  learned on the job playing, recording, and touring with  America’s blues and roots masters: Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef, and Rosco Gordon—to name only a few.  Brad cut his teeth backing up these elder statesmen. He had the good fortune to play on Pinetop Perkins’ Grammy-nominated discs, “Born in the Delta” (Telarc), and “Ladies’ Man” (MC Records), and on ‘Pinetop Perkins & Jimmy Rogers, Genuine Blues Legends’ (Elrob), up for a 2017 Blues Music Award. Brad recently backed Mud Morganfield,  Diunna Greenleaf, with Bob Margolin and  Bob Corretore at the M.E.N.D. Maplewood Festival.  

Now his own group, The Vestapolitans, offers a good-time, crowd-pleasing mix of blues and great American roots 'n' roll. Back out touring they were warmly received at the 2021 Blues Bash at the Ranch Festival and at  the 2023 Bucks County Blues Fest. Past performances include headlining the 2017 Thouars, France Blues Festival, Bucks County Blues Picnic, and Pennsylvania Blues Festival. Their 7 CDs have met with terrific reviews (Downbeat gives them ****½ stars), “Best Of” lists, and great radio play. Most important, audiences love them!

Brad comes from the Pine Barrens of Long Island’s rural East End. He is the scion of a musical family
from the Pine Barrens of Chintoteague, Virginia,
where his grandfather played lap steel and drums.


What is a Vestapolitan?

Well, you see...
When Brad Vickers was looking for a "V" name for his group, he chose The Vestapolitans. Here's why:

Back in the 1800s, refined young people were taught, among other skills, "parlor guitar". There was one popular piece called "The Siege of Sebastapol," whose title referred to a town that figured in the Crimean war. This instrumental was what was known as a "character" or stage bravura piece, with sections meant to emulate sound effects like a bugle call, stirring battle sounds, etc. This kind of piece was learned by advanced students for recitals.

Most importantly, it was played in "open" tuning. This tuning caught fire and circulated among players almost at once, and though the piece itself did not become a standard, there must have been enough performances to get the name into circulation. By the 1920s "Sevastopol", as it was then spelled, tuning became very popular with players from all walks of life, both chord and slide guitarists. As the years went on, the name got bent into all kinds of shapes, Vestopol, Vestapool, Vastopol, Bestapol, etc. In fact, Bo Diddley said that he first learned guitar in "Vastabol" tuning. (Bo favored open E, and would use a capo to vary the key).

Vestapol refers to the chord voicing—the relationship between the open strings—not necessarily the key. The most commonly played Vestapol tunings are D Major (where the tuning is: D-A-D-F#-A-D) or E Major (where the tuning is E-B-E-G#-B-E. ) Brad uses both of these tunings.