Nelson Bragg

Nelson Bragg

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Nelson Bragg is a drummer-percussionist-vocalist from Rockport
Rockport, Massachusetts
Rockport is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 6,952 at the 2010 census. Rockport is located approximately 25 miles northeast of Boston at the tip of the Cape Ann peninsula...

, Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...


Early years

Nelson Bragg played in several bands
Band (music)
In music, a musical ensemble or band is a group of musicians that works together to perform music. The following articles concern types of musical bands:* All-female band* Big band* Boy band* Christian band* Church band* Concert band* Cover band...

 from 1979 to 1999 including positions as a pit drummer for over 20 stage musicals
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

. (Emerson College theater in Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, New London
New London, New Hampshire
New London is a town in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 4,397 at the 2010 census.The town center, where 1,415 people resided at the 2010 census, is defined as the New London census-designated place , and is located on a hilltop along New Hampshire Route 114 north...

 Barn Playhouse, New London, NH among others) His bands include the horn-driven/post-punk dance band Big Noise (1981–1987, Woodstock, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

) and Farmhouse (1989–1992), a harmony-based folk-rock group based in Northampton, Mass. Bragg moved to Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 in 1999.


In 2000, Bragg finally found a successful path joining several L.A. pop bands that include The Now People, The Quarter After, Twenty Cent Crush and Cloud Eleven. In 2001, he joined Stew
A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables , meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used...

 for his Naked Dutch Painter CD and played subsequent shows and residencies promoting it. That CD was Entertainment Weeklys "Album of the Year" for 2002. He also played with The Negro Problem, Stew's former band and alter ego. In 2003, Nelson got the call to join Brian Wilson's band as percussionist-vocalist to perform Wilson's unreleased album Smile. That February 2004 premiere in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and tour was followed by a formal recording of Smile, released in September 2004, winning a Grammy award, in the "Best instrumental" category ("Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" featuring Bragg on virtually all of the whistles and sound effects at the top of the piece.) In 2005, the Smile two-DVD set was released featuring a full-length documentary of Brian Wilson's Smile story and the making of it both in 1966-67 and newly in 2004. That documentary aired on Showtime in October 2004 and was directed by Beach Boys and pop authority David Leaf. A live concert performance of Smile is featured on the second disc.


Nelson Bragg has continued on for many tours worldwide including Smile performances (12 nights at London's Royal Festival Hall) and two nights at Carnegie Hall (broadcast on NPR radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

, nationally on Thanksgiving Day 2004), two nights at The Sydney Opera House, The Hollywood Bowl 3 nights w/The L.A. Phil - 2008, Royal Albert Hall, The Montreaux Jazz Festival, The New Orleans Jazz Festival, The Newport Folk Fest, Brandenburgh Gate - Berlin for the worldwide Live 8 benefit and at The 2005 Glastonbury Festival in the UK, setting attendance records. Bragg has also performed with the band on several television appearances including Late Night With Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. Recordings include Brian Wilson's Christmas album All I really Want For Christmas released in 2005 and "That Lucky Old Sun" released in 2008. In 2006-2007, the band performed the Pet Sounds
Pet Sounds
Pet Sounds is the eleventh studio album by the American rock band The Beach Boys, released May 16, 1966, on Capitol Records. It has since been recognized as one of the most influential records in the history of popular music and one of the best albums of the 1960s, including songs such as "Wouldn't...

 album in the U.S. and Europe, celebrating its 40th anniversary. Beach Boy Al Jardine joined the band for the U.S. leg of those concerts. That Lucky Old Sun garnered many exhilarating concert reviews in 2008 and will continue to be performed in 2009.


In 2003, prior to his position with The Brian Wilson Band, Bragg started recording a solo album
An album is a collection of recordings, released as a single package on gramophone record, cassette, compact disc, or via digital distribution. The word derives from the Latin word for list .Vinyl LP records have two sides, each comprising one half of the album...

 which was completed and released on Side B Music in 2007. Day Into Night was reviewed very favorably and continues to garner college and Internet airplay worldwide. It has Nick Walusko, fellow Brian Wilson band-mate and Wondermint, Mike Randle, guitarist
A guitarist is a musician who plays the guitar. Guitarists may play a variety of instruments such as classical guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars. Some guitarists accompany themselves on the guitar while singing.- Versatility :The guitarist controls an extremely...

 with Baby Lemonade and longtime member of Arthur Lee and Love, Morley Bartnoff, keyboardist
A keyboardist is a musician who plays keyboard instruments. Until the early 1960s musicians who played keyboards were generally classified as either pianists or organists. Since the mid-1960s, a plethora of new musical instruments with keyboards have come into common usage, requiring a more...

 with Burning Sensations and currently with Dramarama, Rob Campanella
Rob Campanella
Rob Campanella is a musician, best known as a Los Angeles producer, engineer, and member of The Quarter After.-Producer, Engineer:Rob has produced and engineered albums for his own band The Quarter After, and for clients including Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Tyde, Beachwood Sparks, Goldrush, ...

, organist-guitarist with The Brian Jonestown Massacre
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
The Brian Jonestown Massacre is an American eclectic musical group led by Anton Newcombe, whose music spans multiple genres including psychedelia, electronica, folk music, blues, experimental music, and many others....

 and The Quarter After, Probyn Gregory
Probyn Gregory
Probyn Gregory is a composer and musician who was raised in the disparate climates of New Hampshire and California, and is now based in Los Angeles...

, fellow Brian Wilson band-mate and Wondermint, Severo Jornacion, bassist with The Smithereens and Debbie Shair, keyboardist with Heart. It also features The Stockholm String Ensemble on seven of its twelve tracks. Bragg performed all acoustic guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

s, vocals, drums
Drum kit
A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person ....

 and percussion among other instruments
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

 on the record
Gramophone record
A gramophone record, commonly known as a phonograph record , vinyl record , or colloquially, a record, is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove...

. The record is influenced by CSNY, George Harrison
George Harrison
George Harrison, MBE was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other...

, The Byrds
The Byrds
The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn remaining the sole consistent member until the group disbanded in 1973...

, The dB's, and Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

's The Grapes Of Wrath, and was produced by L.A. pop-garage producer
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

 Steve Refling.

Other projects

Nelson has been involved with many bands including drumming live and recording CDs with the aforementioned Now People, the Quarter After, Cloud Eleven and with The Mello Cads, Keven Kane (The Grapes Of Wrath), Andrew Sandoval and most notably The Mockers. Bragg has garnered three tours of Spain with The Mockers in 2002, 2005 and 2007. A documentary about The Mockers and the American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 dream is in the works with a 2008 release in mind. 2008 brought Nelson back to Carnegie Hall as the house percussionist for Sting and Trudy's annual rain forest benefit. Performers included Sting, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Brian Wilson and John Sebastian. The house band included Narada Michael Walden, Larry Carlton, Will Lee, and Hiram Bullock.


Bragg is the drummer-percussionist and harmony vocalist on several dozen records, but his most well known recording other than Smile came in 2006 on the In My Room CD tribute to Brian Wilson included with Mojo magazine's January 2007 issue. Nelson sang lead and drummed on The Mockers Beatlesque version of "God Only Knows". That recording was the largest exposure of Bragg's lead vocal to date with a pressing of over 200,000 copies worldwide. At this writing, (Spring 2007) Nelson Bragg will embark on a 30-date tour of Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

and the U.S. with Brian Wilson and Al Jardine from The Beach Boys. The tour includes a premiere in London of Wilson's new work "That Lucky Old Sun". That Lucky Old Sun the CD and DVD will be released on Capital Records September 1, 2008 in the UK and September 2, 2008 in the US. "That Lucky Old Sun" Tour starts September 4. A follow-up to "Day Into Night" is planned to start 2008 as well.

External links