The name is Kevin Charles Brandon (aka Brandino). Have you heard of him? Neither have most of the people with whom he has worked.
This 32-year resident of Burbank has helped shape the music industry for more than 40 years, yet he remains unknown to even the most “in” artists in music. Brandino is up for his seventh Grammy this year for his bass and production work on Robby Krieger’s album “Singularity.” Krieger, who was a member of the Doors, brought Brandino in to work with him on his previous album “Cinematix.” “I was introduced to Brandino by Dale Alexander, who played with Prince,” Krieger said.
“He told me Brandino was ‘the man’ and would be able to play both electric and acoustic bass.” Brandino contributed to Krieger’s album on its two most seminal tracks: “Russian Caravan” and “Event Horizon.” It took 15 years to complete “Russian Caravan,” Krieger said.
Arthur Barrow, co-producer and musician on “Singularity,” noted “Robby suggested we bring Brandino in on ‘Russian Caravan’ because we decided that it needed an acoustic bass. I was blown away how he walked in, looked at the charts and proceeded to nail it.”
Barrow, a celebrated bass player, was with Frank Zappa for more than a decade. “As a bass player who plays only electric, I admire someone who can play both electric and acoustic at such a high level,” Barrow said.
“That was the first time I had heard of Brandino.” Christopher Kunitz, manager of artist relations at Warwick Basses, knows exactly who Brandino is. “Brandino has been part of the Warwick Family for over 20 years,” he said.
“He has the most Grammys on our roster and has the reputation as a great studio musician and amazing technician.” That is only a brief glimpse into what Brandino is doing now. To tell his current story requires a look into his past.
He was born in Compton with two club feet and a displaced hip. He wanted to play drums, but his father was concerned that his disabilities would discourage him. He was given a bass at age 9 to play with his older brother in his band. He then went on to play with a publicly funded big band group through high school that caught the eye of a couple of members of Tommy Dorsey’s band. They persuaded him to come to New York at age 19 to play with the famed band.
After a year he decided to get back to his own visions of his career. Then came the “Queen of Soul.” Although he wanted to pursue his own musical aspirations, he was asked by Aretha Franklin to be her touring bassist. “How do you say ‘no’ to Aretha?” Brandino said.
“I did 22 years of loyalty to the queen. I then decided to devote myself to my nonprofit work and let some other young kid come in and do what I did.”
In between working for Franklin and getting on with his charity work, Brandino managed to mix in three Emmys for his music for the soap opera “Santa Barbara,” Grammys for his work with Outkast, Justin Timberlake and Mary J. Blige and his latest work with Krieger. He has also worked with James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Charles, Barry White and Paul Simon, to name a few.
The nonprofit work was born out of his upbringing and an unfortunate series of events. Within two years after 2000, Kevin lost his mom, teacher and preacher. “I became a new Brandino,” he said. “I began to reflect on life and ask ‘What would make them proud?’”
Through his nonprofit work, he brings music to underprivileged, disabled and developmentally challenged children. “You Can Do It If You Try” (youcandoitifyoutry.org) is devoted to the concept that music improves people’s quality of life.
What: You Can Do It If You Try Where: www.youcandoitifyoutry.org
Contact: Lora De Mars or Kevin Brandon (818) 843-3154 or firstname.lastname@example.org
What: The 53rd annual Grammy Awards When: 8 p.m. Feb. 13 Where: CBS