Brad Edwardson plays bass and guitar and lends his talents to bluegrass band Red Cedar Review. He's a core member of the group, which was formed five years ago and later adopted its current stage name.
Here's a song premiere from Red Cedar Review's upcoming album and a Q&A with Edwardson.
Q: How long have you been playing in Charleston?
A: For a few years when I first moved here, I was mostly an upright bass player. I played with The Royal Tinfoil, Jordan Igoe, Livy Conner and a few others. I always played guitar but not very seriously and rarely in public.
In 2012, I started working on learning some fingerstyle guitar technique in the style of Doc Watson and Mississippi John Hurt, and Red Cedar Review is what that ended up becoming. I had already been playing a lot of gigs (on upright bass) with Aaron Firetag, and we slowly started booking more and more gigs with me on guitar instead. In 2014, we actually came up with the name Red Cedar Review, even though we had already been playing out quite a bit.
Q: I see Lindsay Holler offers some vocals on your upcoming record. Is she a permanent fixture in the band or just a contributor?
A: Red Cedar Review is really just the core duo of Aaron Firetag and myself, and we actually play the majority of our gigs as a guitar/mandolin duo. We have a lot of people we enjoy playing with when we get the chance, but a lot of our friends have other projects going on, or are touring in other bands, so it's not always easy to get everyone together.
Lindsay Holler was really kind to lend her voice to our record, but that was the first time she'd ever worked with this band. Not only a great voice, but she's a great songwriter as well. We were really lucky to have her be a part of this thing.
Q: So what inspired "The Highway" off the new album?
A: With this particular song, I had a trip abroad coming up at the time and was thinking about how I hadn't traveled in a while. I tried to create this character and put some of those feelings of excitement and returning to a journey into his perspective. That was where I started anyhow, and then the song kind of took itself in the direction where it ended up. In the song, it sounds like the narrator is hitchhiking, or maybe he's leaving his home for a life on the road. In the real world, I was just excited to go to Ireland again.
Q: What’s the magic of stringed instruments to you?
A: I really enjoy a lot of different music, but there's something about acoustic string music that really inspires me. A lot of it has to do with history and travel. These old folk songs and these instruments are made to be played anywhere. Singing an old folk song or playing an old melody, I just can't help but think about all of the people that sang it before or wonder about the person who wrote it originally. It's sort of like someone making their great-grandmother's recipe; it makes you feel connected to the past.
Q: Who are the best current country artists in your opinion and what do you want to bring to country music?
A: It's tough for me to say anything about current artists, but that's not because I don't think any of it is good. I hear a lot of stuff that I really like, but for some reason I always find myself going back and listening to older and older stuff. I draw a lot of inspiration from old traditional stuff, and songwriter/storyteller music, whereas Aaron Firetag listens to all kinds of different music from jazz and reggae, to heavy metal and The Grateful Dead. We really try to use all these different influences to put a unique twist on an old sound: something that has a familiar sound but with a new energy pumped into it.
Q: What’s your favorite venue to play in town?
A: We've had a couple of opportunities to play at the Charleston Music Hall, and that has got to be my favorite venue, not only to play but to go see a show. There's so many different places to see music in Charleston but only a handful of spots that have a real "listening room" kind of vibe. There are some other people like Eddie White at Awendaw Green who are trying to put together some new listening room-type shows on a smaller scale for local bands. Hopefully Charleston is receptive to that kind of thing and we can see more of it in the future.