The Music links start with the Andrew Brel Music albums produced originally as Bridge Recordings from 1990 to 2,000, including the two albums I made with Spike Edney and the fabulous SAS BAND and the Leo Sayer album ‘Live in London’.
My 8’th album is made in California, Meditation & Tranquility
There is a page presenting some of my favorite songwriting efforts, including songs with Alan Tarney as well as the quite remarkable story of ‘The Paradise Key. Visit my YouTube channel here for a list of songs I have written.
My relaxation and meditation music series of 8 albums link is here
My first book The Emergency Bouzouki Player is here and my first novel, One Day in Paris is here.
My bio of Nolan Cash is just a click away and it has an audio book possibility if audio is your reading thing.
I am available for bookings as a speaker, alone or with any one of a number of friends, including Hugo Fernandes, in the ‘What I love‘ words and music show, comprising narrative and acoustic music.
Thanks for visiting,
About me begins in Johannesburg in the sixties in a Greek home as Andrea Broulidakis, first language Greek. For my first ten years growing as the handsome princely inheritor of an intellectual atheist father who volunteered to kill fascists from 1939 until 1945, serving as an infantry Captain in the British Army.
The two things he shared with me from that experience began when his medals arrived, for service to King and Empire in WW2, he ‘returned to sender’. Awarding him a medal from the safety of an Office desk in Whitehall was insulting. We had no flags in our house. The second thing was to stand up to fascism.
Manos Broulidakis was a larger than life character who built and lived in the finest house in Johannesburg in the fifties that is now a museum, and the first fifties house built in South Africa to be awarded heritage status. The house on Hoboken Road which he sold to L. Ron Hubbard in 1960.
Manos died when I was ten starting my second life chapter, my education decade in which my Greek Orthodox Mother, 36 at the time of being widowed with three young children, blessed me with the need to support myself from an early age. Something I accomplished by replacing the missing father presence with the collective-unconscious reserve of the music I immersed myself in. Music as a repository of all that is most noble about humanity. I found Bach. My aspirational inspirational figure.
By fifteen I was able to command a fee for entertaining with guitar and voice. My first band was named HOBO and in the early seventies we ruled the Bryanston party circuit.
Although my birth home in Bryanston, Johannesburg, was one of privilege, including a library filled with books my father chose, being particular to Biographies of the great leaders of his generation, my formal schooling was initially poor.
I grew up in classrooms watching Nazi Nationalist Party recruits follow the State curriculum in a typical Apartheid era school run by a white supremacist fascist christian Afrikaner who loved rugby and hated soutpiels.
Headmaster Viviers resented my first observations of superior intelligence challenging his position and authority but was none-the-less serially outwitted on every occasion in the conflict between fascist racist headmaster and young teen-aged Greek student descended from warrior stock. Providing me with an early life lesson in the possibilities for superior intelligence. So, not a hopeless educator then. A typical example from a day in my life as a student at Bryanston High:
“Pupil Broulidakis report to the principals office immediately.” Once there, standing to attention in front of his desk, variations of this argument began. “You have hair visible under the top of your ear. That is an offense. You will now receive six of the best. Bend over.”
Mr. Viviers walks to his cane rack to select one of his favorites. But wait. The boy speaks. “Mr. Viviers. Do you understand what homo-erotic gratification means? I am fourteen years old. What do you really think will happen next.” Turns and leaves. Walks the six miles back to home. No more lessons that day.
By fifteen, in standard nine and just one-year shy of my school leaving graduation, my ethical position made it impossible to continue in right-wing State education. I refused to attend Afrikaans lessons. The language offended me as much as it’s speakers. My Black peers at that time, 1976, revolted because their allotted educational curriculum deemed they would have no need for Arithmetic and Science, being born to labor. The destiny of all Black skinned Christians. I revolted in solidarity. Determining that I would have no need for Afrikaans in my life. My first political activism.
My education took a swift upturn when, ironically enough thanks to an Afrikaner, Mr. Brummer, I completed my schooling at Damelin college in Johannesburg where I was awarded the Diligence prize; which, in memory of my father, I returned to sender, before starting the 11 year journey to become a Psychiatrist at Wits medical school.
1970 to 1980 was my student listening decade, traveling from a fatherless self-accountable ten year-old to a hardened veteran of confronting right wing conformists by the age of twenty, which included being incarcerated for two years in South Africa’s Apartheid military.
Conscription is a bad thing that, as is so often the way with bad things, turned out well when I enjoyed a grandstand view of the war raging in Southern Africa that was a rich resource for a writer. My rank was bandsman. I was the guitarist in the SADF Entertainment Corps show-band established by the Prime Minister’s office for free musical entertainment which alternated between morale building shows for the troops and black-tie functions for the ruling elite. It was at one of those ruling elite ministerial functions, playing ‘The girl from Ipanema‘ in F that I came face to face with the Commander in Chief of Apartheid South Africa, PW. Botha, in which three words were exchanged.
‘Your bum stinks.’
I never found out what ‘The old Crocodile’ made of our brief meeting.
After surviving that PTSD legacy, my life-threatening two-year conscription in the ‘Border War’ my third decade, 20 – 30 started with an energetic work ethic available only to the twenty somethings.
In 1981 I accepted an agent’s advice to adopt the name Andy Brel, and soon I was performing ten top dollar shows a week for much of the time while completing three years of Computer Science. I left South Africa the week after my final exam with the £1,500 allowance on offer at the time by foreign exchange control, showing up at Heathrow with a guitar and a positive attitude, for a new life away from the bludgeoning fist of the fascist government in South Africa.
I knew no one. Literally. I started my first week in England in a £50 a week rented room in a house in a place where I woke each morning not knowing where I was. Literally. I only knew where I was not. I did not miss my South African home, in Chartwell, on 500 acres next to a Lion Park. Or regret my reduced living arrangements. I had an appetite for life.
I got lucky fast. I secured my first paid gig a week after arriving. (Buffers wine bar in Weybridge.) I was working 7 nights a week within three months. My most commonly used advert at that time was:
Andy Brel live. “Perspicacious music for percipient people.”
Soon I had studio work and made many records. Thirty years passed in a blur of words and music and love and fun. I worked with many truly great musicians and met many of the world’s finest human beings as close friends. I loved England so much I made it my third nationality. I lived in a charming house on the Thames riverbank, bought one year after my arrival in the UK. I lived well as a Greek Englishman. I loved meeting the people who came into my life, many of whom I knew about only from their albums that had formed the soundtrack to my colonial upbringing. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have enjoyed the friendships that came my way. I learned the value of gratitude early. And gratefully accepted its rewards. Especially when it came to attractive women.
I have two English children, born twenty years apart. My oldest, now grown at 29, is beautiful Manoussos John, named after Manos, my father, in the Greek tradition. He earned a Phd in Cognitive Neuroscience and assists our awareness of ADHD.
His younger brother is beautiful Byron. The subject of an ongoing story in which British family law is the subject of an ongoing story. He is 9 at the time of writing.
I published my first book in 2011, The Emergency Bouzouki Player, which opened up a world of new opportunity as an author.
My second book One Day in Paris followed in 2015.
In 2013 I embarked on my fourth nationality as a Californian. Which is where I live, pursuing and promoting wellness through music, words and kindness. In any combination of those three. Pursuing kindness through wellness, music and words.
Decades ago, while Tim Berner’s Lee was still in beta, I had a London record label, Bridge Recordings and this idea to sell music on the internet. I sold the first CD sold on the interweb in England at a time when no music had been sold over the web. That idea caught on quickly. Now (almost) no music CD’s are sold over the web.
After that, I had a web page for publishing my short stories, where many of my stories achieved over a million reads. But I could not figure out how to monetize. I had the idea that grateful readers would pay for the creative work of writers in an honor system rewarding merit. My header on the web page I launched to seed interest for this idea was ‘Tis the duty of the wealthy man to patronize the artisan.’ I got busy with other stuff and that went into the fourth page of the maybe-later list.
Happily the tech circle has completed and now PayPal makes it easy to support free content.