A seventh generation Texan, Bradley Kopp grew up in a musical family in the Texas panhandle. His mother was a voice and piano teacher. His first guitar at age eight came from Montgomery Wards and cost thirteen dollars. Early musical influences growing up in the 1960’s such as Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Animals and Jimi Hendrix led to Bradley’s first professional gig at fifteen as a drummer in a band called "The Has Beens.” The band included a bank vice president, a television repairman and his son, and the janitor from the local hospital.
After graduation from high school, Bradley moved to the big city of Lubbock and enrolled at Texas Tech. His parents moved from Texas to Colorado and in 1973, down to his last twenty bucks, he followed his parents and moved to Boulder, Colorado.
Boulder, Colorado Scene
Similar to Austin, Texas, but smaller, Boulder supported a significant university and counter-culture scene. Many successful musicians had settled there such as Stephen Stills, Joe Walsh, Ritchie Furay from Poco, Chris Hillman from The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, Rick Roberts from The Burrito Brothers, and Mark Andes from Canned Heat, Spirit and JoJo Gunne. Unlike Lubbock where most of the market was for cover bands playing frat parties, Boulder’s student population supported live original acts by providing an enthusiastic nightclub audience.
In Boulder, Bradley was first exposed to a music community where people actually made money playing. During his time in Colorado in the mid seventies, Bradley focused on studying the guitar and developing his chops and then began to hire out as a sideman.
The Eighties in Austin, Texas
By the end of the seventies, the Boulder scene was fizzling out and in 1981 Bradley followed many of his friends by moving to Austin. In Austin, a good musician could always find a gig. Bradley played cover gigs, original gigs, rock gigs, country gigs, and pop gigs in Austin and in bars from New Mexico to Mississippi. By the mid eighties, Bradley sometimes played in as many as six bands at a time to keep the money coming in.
While working with Robert McEntee, formerly of Carole King’s backup band, Navarro, Bradley started playing keyboards with recording artist Eliza Gilkyson. However, Eliza knew that Bradley’s passion was for the guitar and his single guitar solo each night was dubbed “the real secret weapon of the band” by one reviewer.
It was also about this time that Bradley began to develop his engineering and production skills by working with Mark Hallman, a producer for Carole King. Mark mentored Bradley as an engineer, and making the transition from engineer to producer was an obvious next step for him.
In 1988, Bradley became a member of Duke Jupiter, a band that had relocated to Austin after being very successful on the east coast and one of the first bands to have a video hit on MTV. By the end of the eighties, Bradley began to work with former Fairport Convention lead singer, Iain Matthews, and toured with him in Japan and Europe. In 1990 Bradley and Will Sexton co-produced Will’s CD for Zoo Entertainment with Mark Hallman. Bradley also began to tour with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, who had recently signed with Elektra Nonesuch, headlining clubs and touring with acts including Bob Dylan and John Prine. Bradley also appeared with Jimmie on Austin City Limits, The Texas Connection, TNN Onstage, Crook and Chase as well as the Tonight Show a few months after Leno took over. He also worked with Alejandro Escovedo, Charlie Robison, Bruce Robison and Kris McKay among many other Texas Artists.
Transition to Production and Engineering
In 1997, Bradley produced the first of several CD’s for his friend Iain Matthews. In 1999, Bradley and his friend Doc Jones put together a studio in Wimberley, Texas. One of Bradley’s first projects there was a CD for former Elektra recording artist Dirk Hamilton. Four years later, Bradley was ready to strike out on his own and built a private production studio, Redboot Ranch, at his home near Austin.
While Redboot Ranch is not a commercial studio for hire, Bradley utilizes it as a private production facility and for production clients. As Bradley says, “I like to work on quality projects. I’m not the kind of guy who works with you just for the money. I want to help artists get to the next level. That’s what we’re all trying to do.”