It’s noon on an unseasonably temperate Sunday in January at a small town coffee house. Every table in the cozy, well-lit café is occupied; a few more patrons sit in easy chairs outside on a wraparound porch. Between the hisses of espresso milk steaming and the clink of ladles filling soup bowls, Brad Myrick plays “Amazing Grace” on his Taylor guitar.
With sprays of raga picking and jazzy interludes, this version is no church song. As it finishes, the modest crowd responds with warm applause — clearly here for music, not just coffee and quiche.
“A room full of people appreciating the thing I love to do,” Myrick said with a smile. “There’s nothing better.”
He’s midway through a brunch set at the latest venue offering live music in the arts-friendly hamlet of Warner. It’s part of a weekly acoustic series that began with the new year, created by café owner Darryl Parker and booked by Myrick.
“I think of it as a salon,” Parker said from behind the counter of Schoodacs, which he opened last September.
Myrick and Parker met at The Local, a restaurant across the street from Schoodacs that offers music on Fridays and Saturdays.
“He saw me perform several times there and, when he decided to open this place, asked me if I’d be interested,” Myrick said. “It’s the classic way of just being out on the circuit as a performer. My best promotion is to go play.”
Myrick has a few more irons in the fire — he books weekends at Stark House Tavern in Weare and curates a monthly music clinic at Concord’s Strings & Things Music Store, where he also teaches. In the spring, he’ll return to promoting weekly jazz at Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough and live entertainment for an area farmers market.
A well-rounded music businessman, Myrick also produces area performers. Last fall, he spent a long week in St. Louis performing and teaching. One day, he gave a lecture on how to make a living as a professional musician in today’s economy. The Cliff Notes: Be creative in more ways than music.
“The people that aren’t famous but are making a career out of playing music are doing more than one thing,” Myrick said, adding that “entrepreneurial creativity” is key.
It’s a lesson Myrick learned when he returned to his native Hopkinton a few years ago after nearly a decade working in Southern California.
“I had to play a lot of cover gigs when I got back to town. … I didn’t know anybody, even though it was my home,” he said.
This meant finding ways to have fun while keeping dinner crowds happy, like turning “Brown Eyed Girl” into a bossa nova or laying a funk groove over “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.”
“If I do something creative and artistic with it as a format, then it becomes jazz,” he said. “Some people hate to play cover tunes, but I love it — it forces me to be creative.”
That said, nothing satisfies Myrick more than “performing my original music in front of as many people as possible.” He travels to Italy twice a year, where he’s enough of a celebrity to play theaters. As a member of Vinx’s band, Myrick is able to work in New York City clubs like Birdland and last summer played the Montreal Jazz Festival for the first time.
“We were at one of the better clubs; it was packed and we played an hour later than we were supposed to,” Myrick said. “It was a great vibe. Vinx is so fun on stage, a true artist. You never know where he’s going to take the song.”
Last year his calendar was packed with shows, but Myrick is scaling back live work in 2016 to focus on following up his first solo record, Halogen.
“I have a lot of new material, and this year it’s going to be about my artistic output,” he said. “I feel I’m a pretty prolific composer but I want to get that out to the world. That’s the goal.”
Myrick said the material has sat around for too long.
“Between getting married [last September, to fellow musician Tanya Dutt] and the other work I’m doing, I’m always the last one,” he said. “I have two, maybe three albums of solo material that I want to finish.”
Kind of like the cobbler’s children — there’s never enough time to make shoes for their feet.
“That’s a great analogy,” Myrick said with a laugh. “Yeah, they’re getting shoes this year.”