Brett Simons began playing music at the age of 13. He and a few buddies from his northwest Indiana neighborhood formed a band. Brett borrowed his first 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 recalls. Before long, a high school teacher recognized his potential and set him up with a double bass. Then, Brett fell in love with jazz.
His talent and dedication were rewarded with a music scholarship to the University of Miami. There, he played with the Concert Jazz Band. He also embraced the energy of the ethnic music scene throughout South Florida. “I just played wherever I could”, he says. “Reggae, Haitian Ra Ra, Brazilian, Salsa.”
In the midst of playing in all these musical styles, Brett realized he had a new and valuable skill. “While rehearsing or recording, I would always hear things finished already”, he says. “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.”
As such, Brett realized he could step in with confidence as a producer. At 21, he earned his first production credit with Uruguayan harpist Roberto Perera’s “Passion, Illusions and Fantasies”. Perera’s follow-up, “Dreams and Desires”, earned Billboard’s Contemporary Latin/Jazz Album of the Year for 1993.
A year later, Brett moved to Chicago. His musical vistas continued to expand as he revisited his midwestern roots–bluegrass, rock, and folk. He toured Europe with the Slavek Hanzik Trio and showcased at the International Bluegrass Musical Convention. In 1995, when he was in town, he played jazz every week at the legendary Green Mill.
He also toured and recorded with the Mighty Blue Kings, and refined his production talents at studios throughout the midwest.
In addition to R&B, gospel, jazz, and salsa, Brett plunged into Irish music, playing and recording with artists such as Jim Dewan, Liz Carroll, and Brendan Bulger.
What’s it like to play so many styles of music? “It makes you manic-depressive”, he laughs. “But it really helps. I’m very comfortable and at home in many musical environs. And every new venture compounds to the next experience.”
In 2001, Brett moved west to Los Angeles. There, he caught the attention of touring artists and musical directors, leading to work with Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Minnie Driver, Liz Phair, and Fiona Apple, among others. He has branched out into television, including the Grammy’s and late night talk shows, as well as radio and film work.
Currently, Brett splits his time between living legend Brian Wilson and Melissa Ethridge.
Brett recently began playing and performing with Waldo Bliss, influenced by his association with guitarist Randy Mitchell.
Group leader Dan Carlson is impressed with his playing. “Brett has shown a great feel for Waldo Bliss music, right off the bat”, he says.
When asked to comment on his overall approach to music, Brett sums it up as follows. “Explore the roots and break the rules. Don’t be confined as an artist by the limitations of genre and style.”