Brick Fields are comparable to neo-singer Joss Stone and retro-soul Adele. Rooted deeply in blues, the band's music combines the smooth rhythms of R&B with the upbeat vibe of jazz. Their album, titled Gospel Blue, is striking less for the classic blues songs than for lead singer Rachel Brick's voice: a voluptuous alto powerful enough to short out the on-stage speakers. Her raw vocal skills are impressive, fluttering in soft, flute-like expression that soars up and burns with passion as she gains momentum. Written by Christi Styer.
Sometimes taking a different step in life can lead you right where you want to be. That’s just what happened for vocalist and guitarist, Rachel Brick, of the award winning blues band, Brick Fields, based out of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
After moving to Eureka Springs, the only thing Rachel knew to do was sing. "So I just started singing,” says this dynamic vocalist. The Brick Fields Band was formed when Rachel Fields met her now husband, guitar player and back up vocalist, Larry Brick, back in 2007. With their love for music, Rachel and Larry began writing songs. This fusion created an afternoon music scene at the New Delhi Restaurant in downtown Eureka.
As the band started growing so did the audience. Randy Fairbanks joined in on the piano and has never looked back. Johnny Ray plays the bass with an unforgettable smoothness, while Caleb Bomar keeps you moving to the beat on the drums. Casey Terry, a huge fan of Brick Fields, was eager to join in and now adds those sweet notes from the saxophone.
"Everybody just kind of showed up", says Larry.
The band quickly formed and was invited to compete for the Ozarks Blues Society Challenge in September 2010. Only being a complete band for two to three weeks, Brick Fields came home as the winners and headed straight for Memphis to the International Blues Society Challenge. There they were awarded Pick of Club 152.
"The fascinating part about this band is how it’s all played out,” says drummer Caleb Bomar. We hadn’t really been playing but for two to three weeks, went and won the competition, jumped in the studio and made a CD, went to Memphis and did five or six days in Memphis all as a band and really got a good bonding time there and now we’re back. Now we’re ready for step one.”
A sense of family is felt on and off the stage with this group. "If you went out and tried to put it together, it wouldn’t have been this good,” says co-founder Larry Brick. “You couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to work with."
Heavily lead by their faith, Brick Fields follow their hearts during their shows, booking their gigs and even writing their songs. "We just pray over it and we pray the Lord will lead us and guide us,” says Rachel when asked about the focus of the band. “We pray we will be wise enough to hear it and see and just go with wherever He wants us to go, to take on every opportunity.”
With the spirit of love in mind, the Gospel Brunch Sundays were created. Every Sunday from 11am-3pm at the New Delhi in downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Brick Fields plays for anyone listening.
"This Gospel Sunday Brunch has been a ministry for people who have been to church who don’t want to go back to church,” says Terry, “and we have people who come here every Sunday who sit and listen. There have been people prayed for and people blessed here. They go away with a peacefulness and they will come back. We have been told this is their church, so it’s a ministry.”
“It’s entertainment,” says Bomar, “but beyond that: inspiring people, helping them, ministry... Overall its kind of a little beyond just entertainment with music, like letting music be a tool for doing what it can do."
"Over 200 years of experience surrounds this band,” says Fairbanks. Larry on the guitar and Fairbanks on the piano have fifty years under their belts, while Terry, having played saxophone in a Marine Corp band, has played well over that.
"I started out working on Phantom jets and they had an opening for a sax player in the Marine Corp Band,” says Terry. “I went and auditioned and made it. My unit went to Vietnam the next day and I went overnight to the Marine band. So the music has saved me more than once, and it’s saving me again right now."
Larry, being a self taught guitarist, has always sketched the music out on his own. "I never took guitar lessons, everything I have learned, I have kind of figured it out on my own, the same way with song writing or arranging or whatever I hear."
Bomar is a seasoned drummer and Ray recalls playing the bass guitar while the Vietnam War was in full swing.
Rachel has been singing for thirty years and some of her first musical memories stem from listening to her mother’s favorite, Barbara Streisand. The powerful voices of Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton led Rachel into experiencing Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James. As a teenager, the rock side of Rachel made its way out; Warrant, Poison, Motley Crue, Slaughter and Europe were just a few playing on her radio.
"I just wanted to sing those rock songs, I wanted to rock out,” laughs Rachel.
Along the way she ended up picking up the guitar with two or three songs and the ideas kept flowing.
Incorporating gospel music in the mix came from Larry. Rachel had never sung a gospel song in her life. "I’d never sung in church, I mean I did, but not like that, so I’d say its Holy Ghost inspired,” she says.
Many influences are heard throughout this power band’s set. This is definitely not your ordinary gospel music! Blues, folk and gospel are just a few influences, while even a little jazz works its way through the scene. Rachel’s sweet and salty voice satisfies your musical cravings as the lyrics move through her lips. With her sultry voice and the lasting musical arrangements each song moves each band member as much as it does the audience. As the music plays, the band creates that perfect sound that can get you up on your feet dancing and then snuggling just a little closer to your loved one.
"Rachel is transparent and people are drawn to her, her openness, her pure spirit,” says Larry. “I think that’s it, I think that’s the icing on the cake. Beyond her being a great vocalist, they identify with her spirit."
Bomar feels it is engaging music. "Its not like we’re up there trying to show what we can do, as much as we are trying to perform.”
The band feels the music has a purpose and hopes to give their audience something to take home.
"I just hope to heal people’s hearts, the world is in such turmoil, you know,” says Rachel. “Every time we get up there, I want to sing, I want it to be medicine for those who hear it, I want it to truly reach inside and just heal.”
The song writing and arranging of the music comes from Larry and Rachel. As husband and wife, they are able to add both past and present experiences that give their music a very raw feeling.
"I think it is the spirit of love, you know,” says Rachel. “Everybody in the world wants to be loved, that’s all anybody wants. They think they want something else, but really when you get down to the nitty-gritty, that’s what people want. It’s the most ultimate thing in the universe, so most all the music is written from the spirit of love."
Just a simple word or an experience can awaken song writing for Rachel. After a song is composed, Larry will arrange and add his flair to help create the song.
"I would call him the producer, the master manipulator of the music, in a positive manner,” says Rachel. “He is gifted and anointed. He just really can take something plain and turn it into a beautiful thing. It goes both ways. Larry will have a song and some words and a lot of times I’ll go in and get the words just right. Then we bring it to the band and the band adds their touch on it."
The other band members enjoy the compositions most of all.
"It’s not boring,” says Fairbanks.
As the band’s drummer, the deal was sealed when Bomar first heard the song writing. "Beyond the people and the singing and everything else, the singing is just like bar none,” he says. “Rachel gives Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin a run for their money.”
As the band works diligently on creating music and finding their way through the music scene, they feel they are right where they need to be.
"God gives you a gift and he puts the desire in your heart for a reason. If you just trust Him and surrender all other nonsense, it will pave that path out for you. Sometimes it might look like it's not going in the direction you want it to. That’s because it’s not!" laughs Rachel. "It is going in the direction it's supposed to, so surrender that and keep moving forward."
The band insists on not giving up and doing it for the love of music as their motivation for success. "If you’re hoping to make it rich in this scene, you might be hoping for a long time,” says Bomar.
Brick Fields continues to play music. Very seldom do they turn down an opportunity to perform. "If somebody says, ‘Hey, come and sing,’ a lot of times we don’t even ask about money. We just go ahead and do it,” says Larry. “If I would have thought I could have made a living doing what I want, where I wanted… We created our own job here. We saw the opportunity and talked to John at the New Delhi, he encouraged us to come and play. It’s something we are supposed to do and love to do, and the great thing about it is we don’t have to travel. We can stay right here and make a living in Eureka Springs. Of course, we want to expand. We are ready as a band to go out and conquer the world.”
Beginning from only tips and CD sales, the Brick Fields Band, is creating a scene not only in Eureka Springs, but contacts are being made from around the world.
"It’s because we stepped out in faith and just decided to do it,” says Rachel. “If we
had a been out looking for a job to make money, ain’t no telling where I’d gone. It’s playing for the love of music."
This truly unique force is not only inspiring people with their music but they also deliver an unforgettable performance. Their new album, Gospel Blue, exposes each member’s passion for music on a silver platter. From their version of “Amazing Grace” to my personal favorite, “On the Vine,” this album is definitely one to play for your friends.
Visit their website, www.brickfieldsmusic.com or stay up to date with their touring calendar on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/BrickFieldsMusic . The CD is now available for download from CD Baby and iTunes. Listen and let yourself unwind.
All contents property of Deitra Mag Publications
Copyright 2011, all rights reserved
Photos property of Brick Fields Band
Copyright 2011, all rights reserved