Brad Gordon: Multi-Instrument Mastery

Instrumentalist and producer Brad Gordon has accompanied artists including Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, and Dan Wilson. Find out more at Here's our quick profile.

Instrumentalist and producer Brad Gordon has accompanied artists including Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, and Dan Wilson. Find out more at

HOMETOWN: New Orleans, Louisiana.

MUSICAL TRAINING: I took classical piano lessons from ages nine to 16, and various jazz and music composition, recording, and film scoring classes at the University of Southern California. I’ve also taught private piano lessons for ten years in Los Angeles.

FIRST GIGS: Playing piano at cocktail parties as a teenager in New Orleans. Also playing in classic rock cover bands, scoring student films at USC, and producing indie recordings.

MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Film composers of the 1960s and ’70s, such as Ennio Morricone, Bernard Herrman, Henry Mancini, and Lalo Schifrin. The Doors, Stereolab, Queen, The Muppet Show, Fats Waller, “British Invasion” bands, the Meters, Booker T., Elvis Presley, and Chet Atkins.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, Beach House, Beirut, Cayucas, Deerhunter, and the National.

INSTRUMENTS PLAYED: Piano, organ, accordion, melodica, synthesizers, guitars, bass, trumpet, clarinets, saxophones, sound effects, and noise sculpting.

MY BIG BREAK: Becoming the multi-instrumentalist for all the Hotel Café tours. In those five years, I travelled the world backing up dozens of excellent singers and songwriters on several instruments, learning around 50 to 80 songs for each tour! During that time, I got to back up great performers like Dan Wilson, the Weepies, Ingrid Michaelson, Jenny Owen Youngs, Jim Bianco, Brian Wright, Meiko, Brett Dennen, Tom McRae, Rachel Yamagata, Jesca Hoop, the Cary Brothers, Sara Bareilles, and many more.

LATEST ALBUM: I played keyboards and horns on Dan Wilson’s superb new LP Love Without Fear. I also produced and played many instruments on upcoming releases from Randy Coleman, the Ruse, Jenny Owen Youngs, AM & Shawn Lee, and Broken Anchor.

FAVORITE KEYBOARD GEAR: My studio has almost anything a person could need: a Knabe upright piano (with tack piano attachment—it’s the instrument I learned on), my 1940 Hammond Model D (upgraded to B-3-ish status), a vintage Yamaha YC-10, Cordovox CVX and Iorio Accorgan combo organs, a vintage Yamaha SK15, Roland Juno and SH-101 synths, a Wurlitzer electric piano, and a Giulietti accordion. For my live setup, I’ve built a vintage-looking shell to house my Nord Electro 2, MicroKorg, and Voce V5 (clonewheel module) that run through a host of pedals. I sometimes use a laptop for more exotic sounds, but I tend to stick with pianos, organs, and accordion for most gigs.

WHAT’S NEXT: More touring with Dan Wilson, producing new songs with the Ruse (featuring lots of synths), Broken Anchor, Jenny Owen Youngs, and wrapping several new co-writing productions with Kris Gruen, Jon DeRosa, Adrianne Gonzalez of the Rescues, and Garrison Starr.

ADVICE: Be versatile, curious, and open to all styles and sounds. Collaborate. Learn how to do the “easy” stuff—like rhythm and supportive parts. And most important of all, learn how to play with singers and work with the primary melody of a song.