Brett was born in northwest Indiana. His musical gift doesn't come from a musical family. No father playing the piano or mother singing. It was the result of a happy accident and...a lot of work. At 13, Brett fromed a band with some neighborhood friends. A friend lent him a guitar with the two high strings missing. "I was limited to the lower four strings and that's basically how I started playing bass," Brett remembers. It worked for the best - the other guitar players weren't planning give up their desire to shred anytime soon.
Soon Brett started hearing and exploring more ... A teacher in High School recognized the sound of talent and encouraged the musician by sticking a double bass into his hands. At 14, Brett fell in love with jazz.
A couple years later, Brett was offered a scholarship to study at the University of Miami. A whole new world opened up. Under the guidance of the university's amazing faculty - Brett studied with Dr. Lucas Drew, Don Coffman and Ron Miller, among others - the bassist immersed himself in the institution's many offerings, eventually playing with the reputable Concert Jazz Band. At the same time, outside the university's walls, he found a vibrant ethnic music scene, in which he quickly blended. "I just played whatever I could," Brett says. And he played... Reggae, Haitian "Ra-Ra", Brasilian, Salsa.
In the midst of all these stimuli came another revelation. "While rehearsing or recording, I would always hear things finished already. When a group was struggling with a part of a song, a timbre or an instrument, I was compelled to give input to help the group accomplish its' vision," Brett explains. That's how Brett was introduced to the role of a producer. At 21 he gained his first co-production credit with Uruguayan harpist Roberto Perera's Passion, Illusions and Fantasies. Roberto Perera's follow-up Dreams and Desires earned Billboard's Contemporary Latin/Jazz Album of the Year (1993).
In 1994, Brett relocated to Chicago. The city's vibrant music scene put him back in touch with his Midwestern roots - Bluegrass, rock and folk - to which he applied his new wealth of influences. As a member of the Slavek Hanzilk Trio, Brett toured Europe and in 1995 showcased at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) convention. At the same time, he was playing jazz on a weekly basis at the legendary jazz room the Green Mill with the likes of Brasilian group Som Brasil and singer/pianist Patricia Barber.
Always on the move, he also toured and recorded with media-darlings the Mighty Blue Kings for their second-album, Come One, Come All, and continued to refine his production talents, working at studios all over the Midwest.
Rhythm and Blues, gospel, jazz, salsa - that was just for a start. What else could the musician dig into in the Windy City? Irish music of course. And soon enough, Simons became one of Chicago’s most sought after bassists for Irish music, playing and recording with artists such as Jim Dewan, Liz Carroll, flautist Larry Nugent and fiddler Brendan Bulger.
When asked what it does to be involved in that many types of music, Brett answers, smiling, "It makes you manic-depressive," he breaks into a manic laughter. "But it really helps," he says, "I'm very comfortable and at home in many musical environs, be they on the stage or in the studio. And every new venture compounds to enrich the next experience."
While in Chicago, one of Simons' significant musical encounters was working with insurgent country singer/songwriter Robbie Fulks. "The guy is a genius," Brett says, remembering their first meeting. "I couldn't believe what he was going for." Brett worked with Fulks on his critically acclaimed debut Country Love Songs, recorded by Steve Albini. Brett continued with Fulks on his records Couples in Trouble and Happy! The Music of Michael Jackson. His involvement in the country music scene continued in 1999 when he toured with platinum-selling country artist Lila McCann.
In 2001 Brett relocated to Los Angeles. He immediately began to take full advantage of the opportunity that the eclectic city offers a musical chameleon. He quickly fell into a varied group of musicians: singer/songwriters and KCRW darlings Gary Jules and Alexi Murdoch, Greg Kurstin's Action Figure Party, and a trio with keyboardist Deron Johnson and drummer Oscar Seaton. Saturating the local music world, Brett caught the attention of numerous touring artists and musical directors, leading to work with singer/actresses Jennifer Love Hewitt and Minnie Driver, indie rocker Liz Phair, pop chantuese Anastacia, iconoclast Fiona Apple and Train lead singer Pat Monohan. Currently, Brett has been splitting his time bewteen living legend Brian Wilson and Melissa Etheridge. His associating with Mr. Wilson has led to being an integral part of The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary reunion record and 54th Annual Grammy Awards performance.
Copyright © 2012 Brett Simons