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Thursday, July 2, 2009 01:50 pm

Brad Elvis of The Handcuffs


Honestly Abe, what an incredible selection of live music goings on are going on around Springfield this weekend. From shows around the lake and neighboring town fireworks shindigs, the downtown Capital City Bicentennial Celebration and American Music Stage to all the regular bar business bands, it’s a regular once in a 200-year gala event. Plenty of information is available elsewhere in IT on the whos, whats, whens and wheres of the big stuff so I’ll give you a little bit on a-not-so-big gig in the middle of it all.

I recently had a good talk with Brad of The Handcuffs, a band playing on the AMS stage Saturday at 7 p.m., as a part of the Taste of Downtown happening. He goes by the last name of Elvis, a holdover from former family ties as a member of the Elvis Brothers, a favorite central Illinois pop-rockabilly band from the mid-’80s. With Rob and Graham, fellow siblings in the Elvis family unit, Brad succeeded in capturing legions of fans across the Midwest and scored a major label deal that produced three albums of fine EB material. Before that he was known as the drummer in Screams, another popular central Illinois group that also made a flash of a splash onto the national stage. On his last Springfield visit the get-around guy was holding down the beat for the Romantics when they graced the AMS stage in 2007.

“All I’ve done in my life is play music,” Brad says, “and I’ve always been lucky to be in good bands that had success.”

You won’t get any arguments out of me or anyone else following Brad-backed bands through the years that they weren’t all good, highly entertaining, and successful to a point. This time he’s got another good thing going with his wife Chloe and the new band they formed about five years ago.

“I feel really good about The Handcuffs. It’s been some of the best success I’ve had, but it’s still doing the same style that was always in me,” he says. “Good pop bands produced well still work. I’ve always tried to do good catchy songs with hooks people remember.”

Considering the longevity Brad (I just can’t call him Mr. Elvis) conjured up in the very volatile world of the pop music business, he may be on to something. Part of achieving commercial success in the music business today relies on getting airplay on TV as well as radio. The Chicago-based Handcuffs recently scored nicely with the cut “Baby Boombox” landing on the popular television shows “Gossip Girl” of the CW network and “The Hills” on MTV.

“I’ve had enough of playing clubs. Though it’s fun and we still do it, I’ve done that and we now go out for a reason,” he says. “We’re more self-contained than before, doing everything ourselves with the goal of getting songs out to the media. I’m still doing what I like doing, but it fits in with the new sounding stuff.”

Anyone who has seen Brad in action through the years will recognize the snappy pocket beats and trademark drumstick tricks as pure showmanship paired with exquisite musicianship, a wonderful combination that makes him the dynamic performer who has captivated audiences for (gulp!) more than 30 years. He grew up in Lincoln, Ill., (how appropriate for this weekend) and played his first gig in Decatur, way back somewhere in the misty mountains of the1970s. Throughout the years of traveling the country playing music and recording albums, the soft-spoken, yet vibrant performer remained true to his first love of playing good music and having a good time. In his latest incarnation the same deal applies.

“Chloe and I are basically The Handcuffs, but a two-person acoustic act we’re not,” he explains. “We’re a loud rock and roll band live out having a fun time.”

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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