Rad Trads headline Nightfall
A half dozen years ago, six musicians, all in their early 20s, found themselves meeting regularly in a Manhattan bar. They were all friends from college and even though they were all musicians, they did not play in any groups together.
The club owner asked them one day why they kept coming to his place. Once they told him they were all friends and musicians, though not in a band together, he suggested they join forces and play at his place.
“He said if we played, the beers would be free,” says Michael Fatum.
That was music to their ears, and since they’d all studied jazz at New York University and had several horn players among them, they started doing cover versions of favorite songs with a jazzy interpretation. Sometimes it might sound a little like a Louis Armstrong riff and sometimes it might sound more like New Orleans legends Dr. John or Allen Toussaint.
Whatever the song, or however traditional it might start out, it was delivered with a radical, almost punk attitude and energy. They came up with name The Rad Trads, and people loved them. What started out as a way to drink for free, quickly became a way to pay the bills as they were much in demand.
And not just in New York. They’ve played on four continents and all over the U. S. The Rad Trads will stop in Chattanooga on Friday night, May 26, for Nightfall.
Fatum says their unique sound has gotten them a wide variety of gigs over the years.
“We might do a jazz club one night, then a rock club, then a bar mitzvah, then an outdoor festival.”
Fatum is joined in the band by his twin brother, John, on drums; Patrick Sargent, sax; Alden Harris-McCoy, guitar; and “Big Red” Mike Harlen on bass.
While fans loved their covers, the guys were all writing new material and, about a year ago, they decided they wanted to put those on a CD, so they recorded “Must We Call Them Rad Trads” last year.
Fatum says the CD was recorded essentially live to tape on an analog eighttrack machine.
“So if you didn’t like your guitar solo, you had to deal with it. We got the crackle and pop of the tape, and it was this magical thing.”
He says they are currently recording their next record, and they are going the complete opposite route with a digital recording and lots of overdubbing.
“I think one song has like 60 tracks,” he says with a big laugh.
The band is very likely going to change their name since t hey have been playing less and less traditional jazz. It has caused some confusion at some gigs, especially at jazz clubs and festivals.
“Plus, there is a sect of really intense Catholics called the Rad Trad,” which they discovered at a dive bar in Mississippi of all places, Fatum says.
Whatever sound the guys in The Rad Trads are putting out, Fatum says it is always delivered with one goal in mind.
“Fun is the word. It’s a gas.”
The Rad Trads