by Daniel Coston
Bradley Ditto has taken his music all over the world, but its the quieter regions of western North Carolina that he now calls home. With new music in the works, Ditto is bringing some of his music to his new neighbors with a spate of upcoming shows. Ditto describes the shows as "A rare and unusually intimate 'in your face' concert performance."
"Every song comes into being," says Ditto. "Where the voice meets the instrument, simple and pure. Certain songs work best being delivered in a very personal way, with no distractions as in distance, allowing all to focus."
Growing up in Illinois in the 1960s, Ditto took an interest in music at an early age. "My first memories of the affect of songs on me were in first grade by way of WLS out of Chicago," recalls Ditto. "The magic of melody, lyric and rhythm, together in such a way within a two to three minute format got me feeling, singing and dancing."
Ditto moved to California in 1978, and began to play with his own band. One of the folks that took notice was longtime Neil Young soundman Tim Mulligan. "Tim hung out and listened to the band, and after a few days I got a call from David Briggs," recalls Ditto. Briggs would eventually co-produce 14 Neil Young records before his passing in 1995. "[David said] he wanted to hear me in person, solo at the new Topanga Canyon Studios near his home at the time. After performing a couple hours worth of original tunes, Briggs walked out from the control booth, on into the studio where I was, extended his hand and said, 'I’d like to work with you!'"
Recorded in 1981, Check Me Out features a roster list of great musicians. Legendary pianist Nicky Hopkins, Michael Been and Scott Musick, percussionist Joe Lala, and vocal arranger David Blumberg all lent a hand to the album, which was co-produced by Briggs and Mulligan. Finally released in 1986, Check Me Out will get a digital re-release by Clean Records later this year.
Ditto has since traveled the world, releasing five more albums, and sharing the stage with everyone from Neil Young to Jerry Garcia, Richie Havens, Gregg Allman and many more. Ditto has also started work on not one, but two new albums since moving to North Carolina. "One of which will be my first, all solo acoustic piano instrumental album with a string quartet," says Ditto. "It's alter ego will be a 'peddle to the medal,' folk rock album recorded with band as a performance. No overdubs! ‘Live n Breathin’ piece of fun! I'm looking for the great players around here that will end up being the band that supports the songs, that make it into the studio that end up on the next disc!"
Ditto is enjoying his time here in North Carolina, and is looking forward to continuing his own musical journey. " I have been blessed to work with some of the best, and am able to call them friends," says Ditto. "I am grateful for all. Every player that ‘connects’ with their respective instrument brings to ‘the table’ a personal gift of expression that makes for a truly unique and one of a kind moment if you will. Sometimes, what I like and whom I like playing with most of all are players that play for fun, just sitting around on the front porch. Or, maybe even, in an old wine cellar somewhere!