His voice sounded strong.
That might be considered surprising, after singing dozens of shows in small music venues scattered across the U.S., hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles from his home in Chatsworth.
Detroit. Memphis. Austin. Denver.
Throw in the media interviews, the nonstop social media updates, the conference calls with his management team, the pressure of meeting his own expectations, plus the need to eat and sleep, and it’s fair to wonder if Pony Bradshaw is feeling the strain.
Bradshaw insists he's “feelin’ good” these days … and he should be.
Nashville-based Rounder Records — a well-respected music label whose artists have won 51 Grammy Awards in 45 years — signed the Mississippi-born, Texas-bred singer to his first contract in 2017, after producer Gary Paczosa discovered Bradshaw’s demo album and saw him perform live at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta.
Bradshaw then spent several weeks in the studio recording original material and, after a prolonged management shift, the label recently released his first extended single, 10x10.
Now, he’s out on the road, hitting clubs and music halls across the country to support the single and promote his debut record, “Sudden Opera,” to be released in January.
“This is different for me, playing in big theaters, sold out shows in front of thousands of people,” said Bradshaw, who never picked up a guitar until his mid-20’s (he initially quit in frustration and wrote his first song just 10 years ago upon moving to Chatsworth. “I’m not really sure why I feel the need to share my music, but I do feel in control on-stage."
The good fortune of signing with a respected record label such as Rounder has been reinforced since 10x10 was released on September 28. In the days following single's release, 10x10 led off Amazon Music’s Brushland playlist. That was followed by a slot on the highly coveted Spotify playlist, Fresh Folk.
“I’ve been treated very well, they are taking very good care of me,” said Bradshaw, who writes his own material and performs no cover songs in his live shows, preferring only original music. “
Rounder began in 1970 as a collective enterprise by three college friends - Bill Nowlin, Marian Leighton Levy and Ken Irwin — passionate music lovers all, to record, preserve, and pioneer the development of roots music and its contemporary offshoots. It was not originally intended to become a business — all three Rounder founders had other careers in mind — but the reception their first releases earned drove the trio to do more. In their third year alone, they released 19 albums.
The three sought out the best musicians in various fields – they had already expanded into blues and other genres – and also pursued quirky projects, such as documenting the Old Time Hollherin’ Contest in Spiveys Corner, North Carolina. Rounder made the first albums of numerous artists – Alison Krauss, George Thorogood, Mark O’Connor, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, and many more. Rounder both produced its own records and distributed the offerings of many other labels (at one point, over 450 independent labels) and was instrumental in forming an early trade organization, but the company remained fiercely independent, weathering many changes in the music business.
Acquired by the Concord Music Group in 2010, Rounder moved its headquarters to Nashville in 2014.
For his part, Bradshaw will continue to do what he loves — make music and interact with fans.
“Getting on stage and making music, that’s for free,” said Bradshaw. “It’s the grind of the road where you earn your money."
For more information on Pony Bradshaw, visit ponybradshaw.net.
His voice sounded strong.