The Nashville Dispatch; Ya Gotta Luv It with Keith Bradford: Chowder & Clam Cakes

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Welcome to The Nashville Dispatch, a feature on NRI NOW

The Nashville Dispatch is a monthly column submitted by Burrillville native Keith Bradford, host of Ya Gotta Love It, a country music show on NBRN based in Nashville, Tenn.

Bradford will cover topics in the music business designed to inform, entertain, and enlighten people interested the topic, particularly in the country genre. Also a singer and song writer, Bradford is the owner and operator of KMA Records in Nashville and brings more than 60 years of industry knowledge to the endeavor.

Do you have questions about the music business? Have a topic or artist you’d like Keith to discuss? Send your questions and requests to keith@nbrnonline.com.

Chowder and clam cakes anyone?

Please notice the word chowder has an er on the end of it. Many Rhode Islander’s call it chowda which is considered charming sounding by outsiders visiting Little Rhody.  I can’t tell you exactly when I had my first ‘aha moment’ that I spoke with a very strong Rhode Island accent, but I suspect it was upon entering boot camp at the Naval training center in Great Lakes, Ill.  I remember one of my fellow recruits saying to me, “What the heck kind of name is Otta?” Of course to me I was pronouncing my name the same way I had been saying it for the 17 years on this planet.  Born and raised in Pascoag, RI as Arthur Guilbault and having graduated from Burrillville High School, I talked like everyone else I knew my own age or older.  You might even say I talked the way my teachers talked. 

OK, so by now you are asking, “what in the world has all of this got to do with the music business?”  I can say that at no time has radio and or TV embraced music on a major scale that had a strong Rhode Island accent as its core sound. I am not saying in order to make it professionally in music you must sound like you are from the mid-west and sound like someone reading the nightly news from a teleprompter. What I am saying is that using words like steamers, cabinet, coffee milk and quahog are unique to Rhode Island and as beautiful as they are, they immediately identify you as a Rhode Islander. 

I should also note just because you sing country music, for example, you do not need to sound like you are from Texas.  No more than if you sing bluegrass music do you need to sound like you are from the hills of Kentucky.  Please try to be open minded about all of this accent stuff I am talking about here. 

When I was in the Navy, I had the opportunity one time to perform with the greatest bluegrass musicians I had ever heard. They were from Tokyo, Japan. Their musicianship and creativeness poured out of their instruments and kept everyone spell bound. When they sang, however, it sounded like four guys singing in broken English.

Be aware: if you are a native of Rhode Island, you have an accent. You don’t have to try and change it. That is your choice, to try and tone it down or not. When I worked at Opryland in the Country Music USA show in Nashville, I was the voice you heard on many of the narrations. I practiced over and over again to get it to sound just as close to perfect as I could get it. Here is the opening speech from the 1977 production:

Country music began with honest melodies and old English ayers that filtered down from the clinch mountains of Virginia to the foothills of the smokies. It soon mixed with an earthy kind of religion that created a back porch kind of music that was uniquely American.

When they first handed me that script to read, I sounded like I had just stepped off the Block Island ferry. I soon learned how to adapt if I wanted to continue being employed in country music.

The Music Business…

Ya Gotta Luv It

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Keith…..you’re right, you gotta love the music business and I still do! Great hearing from you after all these years. Always admired your work. Still playing R&R. Gotta go paque my cahh.

    Jerry Leveille

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