Alias and our favorite

Brad Layher Interviewed ~ by suzan

Awesome guitar sounds
 Vocals harmonizing 
crowd favorite 

Brad opened up for a probing interview that probably left him with a curious "who are those guys"* (quote from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).. that want to know all this about me..

Brad Layher and Mitch McVicker are no outlaws, I guess you could call them spirit cowboys.  They are two guys who have shared the miles, vocalized and harmonized with exquisite and astonishing results as they rustle up souls along the trail they follow.  Equipped with just a couple of guitars, harmonica, hammered dulcimer, and incredible voices; their talents have been spreading and sharing the Gospel across this country side.. via van not horse I might add.

As they celebrate their one year anniversary touring together, I put in a request and was  granted a very gracious interview with Brad.

The request sent asked Brad to open up so people could discover just who that guy next to Mitch was.  Little had been discovered about him other than the following background listed below..

"In June 99, Mitch was joined by Brad Layher.  Brad is a fine musician who plays hammered dulcimer, acoustic guitar, and also does vocals.  Since Mitch and Brad will be a duo for a while,  they are dropping the name Kid Brothers. Mitch Site link Known as friends with Michael Aukofer; his site revealed the next quote about Brad. "Brad is an accomplished acoustic guitarist and vocalist who has recorded on quite a few albums in Nashville.  He had his first "cut" as a songwriter on Alathea's second CD "The Rains", just released in November 1999.  In May 1999, Brad received his Civil Engineering degree from Tennessee Tech." Michael Site link copyright © 2000

Brad tackled the list of questions sent his way and ended up revealing part of his own soul for us to absorb along with more of his great entertaining humor.   Enjoy his candor and gain some insight into his heartfelt remarks.

Early years:

 ~ Can you tell me a little bit about where you were born and your childhood.

Brad: I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and lived there until I was in 5th grade. I moved with my mother and step father to Johnson City, Tennessee after that until I hit college.

~  What were some of your hobbies or favorite pastimes?

Brad:  Kind of wish I had a certain thing I've been doing my whole life, but I didn't.  I sort of dabbled in all kinds of things my whole life.  Sneaking out in junior high in the middle of the night to go smoke was fun.  Watching movies was actually my favorite thing to do.

~  When did you start playing the guitar?

Brad: I bought my first electric guitar at the end of 8th grade.. I sat and looked at it in the corner of my room with my friends for a few years and all we ever said was "cool.. Brad has a guitar!"  That was the extent of guitar playing until I got this really poopy acoustic guitar for christmas my junior year of high school.  I worked really hard at it from then on out.  It was one of those extremely "hard to play" guitars that made my fingers hurt everyday for about three years until I got a new one.

~  When did God first impact your life?

Brad: Very thought provoking question.  I don't ever remember Him not impacting my life.. not that I was this amazing kid who led a really spiritual life. (I was all but that, ask my poor mother!)  But my whole life I can remember instances where God chose to make Himself known to me.  Who knows why, God's just weird like that.  There were certain steps along the way where I began to take my faith more and more serious I think.  Like, meeting my first pastor (who I thought was God himself for a few years)..  getting confirmed in the church..  going to younglife camp in high school.. I dare say God chose me... which will make the calvinists happy but the christian denomination skeptical.  If I were to explain my life in the scope of the baptist tradition, I would say I've fallen away and been saved again thousands of times in my life.  They would be happy to know though that I got saved twice this week already.

~ What do you most admire about your parents?

Brad: This could be a loaded question but I'll give it my best.  I have two sets of parents.  My dad and step mother live in Ann Arbor still and my mom and step dad are still in Johnson City.  What I like best about us all is that we've all gotten older.   You just begin to see certain things like.. our past!  It's a little scary when you realize all the mistakes we all made but the cool thing about all of my parents is that everyone is willing to say, "I'm sorry life used to be like that.. I'm sorry we used to be like that.. let's do better."   I think for a child to hear any parent say or imply that they were wrong about something is an amazing thing.  It's very healing.

~ Any serious girlfriends in high school or college ~ you don't have to name them..(laugh)..

Brad: Yes.. they all went away.. I think they were all too smart.  I think the kind of girl I really need is someone who is extremely stupid.  That way they fall for everything I say and don't ever realize what they've gotten themselves into.

College years:

~Where did you go to College and why did you choose that path?

Brad: I started out at East Tenn State University in Johnson City.  I went there for five semesters. Then I transferred to Tenn Tech University in Cookeville for two semesters; Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a semester, and back to Tenn Tech for a semester.  By this point I only had two semesters left to finish but I needed a break.  So I took a semester off.. then went back and finished in may 99.  Whew!  Six years total and I never failed a class!

I'm not sure why I went to college exactly.  It just seemed like the thing to do at the time.

~ Mitch talks about how you've got a degree in engineering and how helpful it has been on tour (laugh) did you considering any other fields?  And what did you imagine doing with that degree?

Brad: I started out thinking I wanted to be a doctor, then I remembered how much I hated biology and chemistry.  So then I thought, why not do something I'm good at.  Math and physics were my thing.. that's when civil engineering popped up.  I wanted to work for an architectual firm doing foundation and skeletal design.  About a year into that I decided that I was good at it but didn't love it.. that's the kind of attitude that allow bridges to fall down.    Music was what I loved.  So until I love engineering, the degree will hang on my mothers wall.

~ When and how did music start playing a major role in your life?

Brad: I played a lot of guitar at a lot of things from the moment I got my first acoustic.  But I think when it started taking control of my life was when I left for Tenn Tech the first time.  I didn't know anybody there and I had a private dorm room.  What this means is that it gave me too much time on my hands to practice.

~ When did you start playing the hammered dulcimer?

Brad: This couple I know in Johnson City gave me theirs a couple of years ago.  I learned to play it when I took a semester off of college.

After College Years:

~ How did you and Mitch get hooked together? Through Michael?.. But what made you decide to hit the road with this guy?

Brad: Yeah, Michael introduced us.  Michael and I have been good friends for about two or three years now and he knew I wanted to do music instead of engineering.  It didn't take any deciding when Mitch asked me.  For once in my life I knew what I wanted to do.

~ What has it been like, life on the road?

Brad: fun, tired, happy, sad, exhausted, frustrated, miserable, redeeming, life threatening, joyous.. we've been pooped on AND pampered.. kind of ironic, huh?

~ What have you learned from Mitch? And or your gut honest opinion of this Guy?

Brad: I'm not quite sure how he's impacted me yet, I just know he has.. ask me again in a few years.  As far as my honest opinion of him.. nice hair, good laugh, great songwriter, great singer.. I couldn't have asked for a better friend.

I think there are a lot of people who are just getting to know Mitch.. and just because of your awesome support of him on stage, they are getting very curious about you too. I heard you play "Tinman", which I loved and the story you told with it.  My question is do you want to continue on this music path and where is it leading you?

Brad: Yes, it is leading me.. but that's just the point I guess.  I know it's taking me to the horizon but what lies there I'm not sure.  That's what I'm trying to say mostly in "tinman".  even though the path is pretty well defined most of the time, it's really hard to follow it.  A lot of times I find myself running for shelter when the rain comes through.

~ Any change for your own album, are you working up some more songs?

Brad: Yes I have more songs and I'm working on more songs.  I think I'm going to do a seven song CD in January...four produced and three just me and the guitar.

 ~ Can you tell me about your involvement on The Chasing the Horizon album?

Brad:  Well, number one, Mitch wrote some great songs which made the album a lot more fun to play on than if per say they sucked.  Number two,  Mark Robertson (producer) and Jordan Richter (engineer) were a great team to work with.  I felt very fortunate that Mitch invited me to be a part of it and that Mark was kind enough to allow it.  Everyone was really open to ideas and they were very encouraging.  I  got to play guitar, hammered dulcimer, mandola, and sing.

~ Mitch gets to talk more about you and joke.  Give us a couple good stories back about Mitch.

Brad: In an average day, Mitch gets about five hours sleep, drinks about two pots of coffee, leaves his brand new bottle of shampoo at the last hotel we were just at, threatens to throw his cellphone out the window, and makes me laugh a good few dozen times.

~  What path is life leading you on in the near future?

Brad: All I know is I love what I get to do and hope I get to keep doing it.

Miscellaneous -  but asked anyway nonsense category..

 ~ . How tall are you

Brad: 6' 2"

~ Favorite soda

Brad: IBC rootbeer

~ A favorite fast food meal

Brad: two chicken filet sandwiches and a diet coke.

~ Color

Brad:.......  (ha,ha)  don't you dare put that on the internet.
well, sorry guys, he gave me answers to everything else but you'll have to live with the edit... for the first part of his answer.. (love his humor)..

~ Favorite mom cooked meal

Brad:  She makes this amazing homemade chicken noodle soup.

~ Where do you like to shop

Brad: shop?  Kroger I guess.  I recently discovered the kroger plus card.  I was very proud of myself.  I like to walk around Borders Books and get a chai tea but I promised to not buy anymore books 'till I finish reading the first thousand I bought.

~ Favorite ice cream flavor

Brad: peanut butter

~ Favorite sport teams

Brad: I don't really have any.. I guess I haven't entered that part of manhood.

~ Besides this bizarre list, what crazy things do the fans ask? (note, his responses are priceless)

Brad:  What do you do in your real life?  As if traveling with Mitch is my fake one.

Brad: what bra size do I wear?  Like I'm really going to tell them, that's personal.

Brad: You seem pretty talented, thought about doing music for a living?
no comment

Brad:  You guys sounded great tonight, I really loved Rich's music, what was he like?  Again, no comment, but do my best to smile.  To me, that's as arbitrary as saying, "you guys sounded great, I like big cars, how do Chevy's handle?"  I didn't know Rich all that well really, we just hung out a couple of times.

In closing

What would you tell someone if they ask you why you have faith?

Brad: I'd ask them why do they eat?

Is there something you'd like to tell people you haven't already?

Brad: I guess I'd really like to let them know how appreciative I am.  People ask me all kinds of questions.. a lot of them deserve crazy answers.  But I really appreciate them asking me in the first place.  Being the second man on stage isn't always easy.  But it's very encouraging when they really want to know who I am outside of Mitch.

Brad did give everything, except for one personal probably unanswerable question which I didn't list.  I am never amazed when God goes, "thanks for asking, this is what I can do for you at this time."  What DOES amaze me is when people do that.

great expressions
don't miss them in concert
reflective moment 


Why didn't I choose the harmonica!!.. This does not fit in your pocket!

Stop with the Pictures!

Update on the Appalachian Christmas quartet that Brad is a part of has the album completed and was ready for distribution October 2000!  The Aappalachian Christmas Quartet consists of Michael Aukofer, Brad Layher, and David Dibbern.  They book themselves as the only three person quartet in the known universe, since the fourth member, jack a. lope, is not a person.  This is awesome music for the upcoming holidays as a gift and to enjoy!   Please check out their site and order it at:

 Read the inteview on The Appalachian Christmas project:  Link

Read a music review of this project at Music Review Link

Read Brad Layher interview on this project at:   Brad Interview

Update:  Brad conducted an awesome  three hour workshop November 10, 2000 in Stillwater, Mn before a concert.  Read the review of the workshop at:

Dulcimer Workshop



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