Secretly Famous, the latest CD from the blues-rock singer/guitarist, coming from Ain’t Skeert Tunes. Produced by multi-Grammy-winner Jim Gaines and recorded at his Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee, Secretly Famous marks the second time the two have collaborated on an album project; Gaines also produced Bratcher’s 2006 release, RED.
“Secretly Famous is my seventh album but I really feel like it’s my first,” says Bratcher. “This album is different for me because I went further back into my roots than on any of my other albums, back to a time before I became “The Rev.” Back to the blues-rock root that I learned playing that old guitar.”
“That old guitar” Bratcher refers to is a classic white 1964 Gibson SG Jr., which he played on the new CD. And there’s a story behind how he got the guitar and how it set him on the path to become a musician as a youngster growing up in Kansas City.
“In the driveway was a 1958 Desoto; in the house were a 12-year-old boy and his dad with a plan,” recalls Bratcher. “‘Will trade 1958 Desoto for electric guitar and amplifier,’ was how the ad read in the Kansas City Star newspaper. One call came and I went home with a beautiful white Gibson SG Jr. and a Gibson amplifier. That’s where it all started and I still have both the guitar and amp to this day.”
On that day was not only a musician born, but also a self-confessed “guitar freak,” who plays several different vintage guitars and amps on Secretly Famous. “I never understood the attraction to vintage guitars till one day it hit me,” says Bratcher. “There’s something very special about playing a guitar that has had a lifetime of music played through it. I consider playing guitar as a gift. Throughout my life I’ve received many guitars as gifts. In fact most of the guitars that I own were given to me as gifts. They are constant reminders to me that music is a gift to us all and it’s my honor to play it for you. Oh yeah, the songs I played the SG on are the solos of “I Can’t Shake That Thing” & “Starting All Over Again.”
And if you didn’t already know it, Jimmie Bratcher is a bona fide preacher, who regularly spends his time when not performing at clubs and festivals around the world, visiting souls who need a lifeline, including frequent performances for prison inmates all over the country.
Backing The Rev. Jimmie Bratcher on Secretly Famous are Craig Kew on bass, known for his work with the group Proto Kaw, which features guitarist Kerry Livgren from the legendary band Kansas; Lester Estelle Jr. on drums, a Nashville-based skin-slammer who’s toured with Big and Rich and also co-owns Off the Wall Studios on Music Row; and keyboardist Rick Steff, a mainstay at Jim Gaines’ recording sessions who’s based in Memphis and also plays in the acclaimed band Lucero.
Secretly Famous features an even-dozen tracks including 10 originals and two scintillating covers: The Rev.’s boogie-in’ take on John D. Loudermilk’s classic “Tobacco Road;” and a beautiful reading of the Association’s ‘60s hit, “Never My Love,” that brings s new depth of feeling and emotion to the song. Another track of note is “Check Your Blues at the Door,” an original blues shuffle destined to become a fan favorite and blues lover’s anthem.
“I wrote most of the songs on Secretly Famous and had the honor of co-writing the opening track, ‘Jupiter & Mars,’ with my son Jason,” says Bratcher. “The song was Jason’s idea and once I read the first line – ‘Blinding light, flash of chrome, hot-head blonde in a tricked out Ford’ – I was hooked. There’s also something about my playing on this song that is just wrong enough to be right and the groove drags you into the song so you can’t help but feel it. All the songs I wrote on Secretly Famous are for people like me. People that hurt, that love, that laugh, people that need to forget about their troubles and enjoy life.”