In recent months Brad Colerick’s email has been filled with messages from musicians interested in playing in the 11th Annual Eclectic Music Festival and Arts Crawl in South Pasadena on April 27. While most of the performers are from Southern California, a few interested groups have reached out from around the globe, hoping to land a spot.
Colerick, 58, serves as the festival’s music director for his eighth year, scheduling nearly 50 performers to appear on a dozen stages throughout the city.
A veteran of the music business, Colerick’s 30-year career in music includes 20 years writing and producing music for commercials where he worked with artists including Johnny Cash, B.B. King and Shawn Colvin. He won a London International Advertising award for a piece he recorded with bluesman Buddy Guy. He has served big accounts for Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Budweiser and Sears. Colerick owns a music publishing company with songs recorded by Chicago, Richie Havens, Spencer Davis, Jim Brickman and others. He owns an independent record label, Back 9 Records, that has released a small roster of artists including his own albums.
“My entire career has been a constant process of learning how to do things out of necessity,” Colerick says. “I’ve filled about every role in the music business – publisher, producer, indie label owner, promoter – but I’m a songwriter at the core.”
Colerick’s love of music began at a young age when he played his grandmother’s piano by ear in Hyannis, Nebraska. He remembers being moved by discovering the sounds that could be made on that instrument. He played trumpet in grade school, but had to put wax on his braces to prevent scratching.
As a high school junior, Colerick borrowed his older sister’s guitar and learned to play. He wrote his first song that year – “Song for An Old Friend” – as a project in his music theory class.
The professional singer-songwriter has released five CDs over 14 years. His latest, released earlier this year, is a love letter to South Pasadena where he lives with his wife and two teenaged children. It’s titled “Nine Ten Thirty,” the city’s zip code. He also writes commissioned songs, three of which are included among his records.
Among other places, Colerick can be seen around town at the Blue Guitar, the music venue he manages at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course, where he also enjoys playing the 18-hole course. Constantly in touch with musicians touring through Southern California, Colerick books talent months in advance. Featuring Americana music on Wednesdays and jazz and blues on Thursdays, the Blue Guitar attracts local audiences numbering as many as 85 in a single night.
Colerick also performs regularly at venues such as McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica and the Fret House in Covina. Recently he performed on a Metrolink train, leaving Union Station with two dozen friends who accompanied him to Covina for a show. He tours the country, too, playing frequently for Midwest audiences including some in his home state of Nebraska.
Colerick’s current success is arguably his ability to build community through music.
“That’s what I’m most proud of, the sense of community coming together to hear music,” Colerick says. He recalls one Blue Guitar regular who came every Wednesday and Thursday in the year following her husband’s death, thanking Colerick for the music and the community.
He also points out that some couples first met at the Blue Guitar or had their first dates at Wine & Song, South Pasadena’s precursor to the Blue Guitar.
“Music is a universally positive experience,” Colerick says, “no matter your politics. We all can be uplifted by music.”
As for the upcoming Eclectic Music Festival and Arts Crawl – expected to exceed last year’s record 12,000 attendees – Colerick wants music fans to enjoy a sense of discovery on the city streets. “It’s going to be great. We’ve got the Gin Blossoms headlining and so many more musicians.”
Colerick advises festival-goers to immerse themselves in all that is happening at the festival. “Stay in place or move around to different stages,” he says. “Discover the feeling of this community and the music and art offered throughout the festival. It’s going to be great.”
Hosted by the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, the family-friendly Eclectic Music Festival and Arts Crawl is offered free of charge from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. April 27. For the latest information on scheduled performances, stage locations, parking and more, visit TheEclectic.Rocks.