Brad Cunningham Band
Gig Seeker Pro

Brad Cunningham Band

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Country Americana




"Daily Discovery: Brad Cunningham, "Wings""

Brad Cunningham grew up listening to classic pop and sang in his school choir. He began pursuing music more seriously while at Baylor University, recording an album and assembling a band. He and his band, Man In The Ring, are touring in the midwest this summer. You can find his tour schedule here.

ARTIST: Brad Cunningham

SONG: “Wings“

BIRTHDATE: 06/02/ 1983

HOMETOWN: Columbia, MO


AMBITIONS: I guess I’d just like to write and play music for a living. I don’t care if it’s in a church or some smokey bar. I just wanna play.

TURN-OFFS: #hashtags, handcuffs, and hot beer

TURN-ONS: anything from Chim’s Thai Kitchen, Les Bourgeois Captain’s Cooler’s, and my beautiful wife Ally

DREAM GIG: How about an opening spot for the Turnpike Troubadours?

FAVORITE LYRIC: “The only two things in life that make it worth livin’

Is guitars that tune good and firm feelin’ women” Waylon Jennings

CRAZIEST PERSON I KNOW: Millie Lovett. If you’ve ever been to the Blue Note in Columbia, MO you’d understand. One of a kind.

SONG I WISH I WROTE: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

5 PEOPLE I’D MOST LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: Willie Nelson and four of his closest friends.

MY FAVORITE CONCERT EXPERIENCE: the Time Jumpers upright player, Brad Albin, picked my wife and I up at Rosepepper Cantina in Nashville and took us to see Chris Scruggs & the Stone fox 5. A pretty memorable 1st anniversary to say the least.

I WROTE THIS SONG: for my nephew Brett’s first birthday. - American Songwriter

"Roots 'N Blues local flavor: Man in the Ring"

By Aarik Danielsen

Posted October 1, 2010 at 7:59 a.m.

In some ways, Man in the Ring is like a self-contained summary of the Roots 'N Blues 'N BBQ Festival. The Columbia-based band unites many of the styles represented at the fest - rock, funk, country, reggae and Latin - in one very winsome, winning sound. Somehow, the band has managed to join these influences and still sound unique. The band never sounds conflicted or as if they're laboring to nod to each important musical hero - their playing often sounds almost effortless.

That easy energy and consistent tunefulness has won the band a loyal following, a jam-packed concert calendar and gradually crescendoing attention from the press. Man in the Ring will play the Isle of Capri Stage at Whole Hog Lounge at 7 on Saturday as part of the festival. This week, frontman and band founder Brad Cunningham engaged in an e-mail q-and-a with the Tribune, talking about the highs and lows of the past year, kindly enduring the age-old question of musical influences and actually shedding new light with his answer. Cunningham's soulful voice and versatile guitar playing are an anchor for the band and his vision for what's ahead sings out loud and clear through his responses.

Tribune: Your band seems to have really picked up steam lately, with a lot of press coverage and prominent shows. Talk about what the last year has been like for you personally and what you're looking forward to over the next horizon.

Cunningham: The last year has definitely had its ups and downs. We have had some really bad shows, but the good ones have always kept us coming back. We had to take risks and make big mistakes, but we somehow managed to come out ahead in the long run. Unfortunately, there is no step-by-step guide for something like this and we certainly didn't expect to take off in such a big way. As for the coming year ... we have another couple albums in the works, along with a summer tour. We will also be submitting our press materials to some of the bigger festivals across the nation and see what comes out of it.

Tribune: You will be recording a live CD at The Blue Note next weekend [this happened Saturday, September 25]. Tell me about how you're preparing for that moment, knowing you've got to get it some semblance of right on the first try. What is it about the Man in the Ring live experience you feel is worth capturing and preserving? What do you consider the most important or interesting gig you've had so far?

Cunningham: As for the live CD, working alongside these guys is easy. I am so fortunate to get to play with some of the best and most talented young musicians around. We have been practicing and reworking our songs for a while now and truthfully I have faith that these guys can nail it.

We really wanted to record a live album because as great as our first album is ... when we went into the studio we used totally different amps, and instruments for the most part, so it sounds totally different than we do on stage. You can make a lot of magic happen in a studio, but playing live is how you sell those albums. It also helps with booking. People who book want to know what you sound and look like live. We did a low budget recording at The Blue Note on an HD camera a while back and that has gotten us more shows than anything else. It's a great feeling to walk into a venue and pull up the video on your phone and say this is who we are.

Their have been many interesting ones. Our most important one thus far has been 100.1's Bandamonium. We played in front of a ton of local people and won $2000 which helped us pay off our album way faster that we expected. We also got Cumulus Broadcasting's Tiger Tailgate out of it so add more exposure to that list. I think it also established us as young players in the local music scene.

Tribune: Festival crowds are pretty mixed as far as previous exposure to an artist's work - some have heard you, some haven't. Why do you believe your band has what it takes to win converts to your sound and how would you describe your style for those uninitiated in all things Man in the Ring?

Cunningham: One of the hardest questions for us to answer is "what style of music do you play?" Our response to that is "good music!" We have fans from ages two to 92. I would say the thing that people like the most about Man In The Ring is that we are going for it at such a young age. I think it's refreshing to see young people hitting it hard, and playing such a variety of music with skill. We have played over 50 shows in the past four months, and we don't play just one style of music. We cover everything from old fiddle tunes, to pop, rock and country from 1930 to present day. Our music that we write is a blend of so many folk styles of the past its really hard to classify. My thought is to come and see for yourself, - Columbia Daily Tribune

"SEE THIS: IN THE RING A Columbia Band Tries To Expand Sonic Footprint"


DECEMBER 13, 2012 | 12:00 A.M. CST

Following a recent show at The Blue Note, Brad Cunningham and his band,Man In The Ring, were approached by a woman who told them something unexpected.

“She said, ‘I flew out all the way from Tahoe,’” Cunningham recalls. “I said, ‘Are you kidding? You flew all the way in for a $5 show?’”

Cunningham — the band’s founder, guitarist, lead vocalist and lyricist — thanked the woman. He laughs as he relays the encounter. He whole-heartedly appreciates the swelling number of fans, and he attributes his folk-rock band’s escalating popularity to its presence on Facebook, Pandora and Spotify. The band’s ambitions have escalated correspondingly.

“We really want to take the next year and subsequent years to become the premiere band in the state of Missouri,” he says. “We’re going to focus on St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield and really get our name out there.”

The band will get a leg up early in 2013. They’ve been booked for South By Southwest, a prominent music and film festival in Austin, Texas. Cunningham scored the gig via a California-based booking agent friend with roots in Columbia.

Man In The Ring formed in 2008 when Cunningham returned to central Missouri after studying business in Texas at Baylor University. Since then, the band has produced two albums: an eponymous studio album and a live recording at The Blue Note. The band recently lost its electric violinist — the sound that “made us unique,” Cunningham says — when Kyle Pudenz left to study music at Belmont University in Nashville. Initially apprehensive about filling those huge shoes, the band found Molly Healey, a violinist and cellist who had previously played for Big Smith.

Healey jumped right in, participating in only one rehearsal before a Summerfest performance in front of a few thousand people. “She played everything note for note, spot-on perfect,” Cunningham says. “She really blew us away.”

Armed with a mix of original songs and beloved covers, such as Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” Man In The Ring will move forward. Its sights are set, of course, on creating more of its folk string music and getting its name out there, in Missouri and beyond. - Vox Magazine

"Cunningham Not Just Preaching to "Choir" on New Album"


Thursday, July 26, 2012
Brad Cunningham, “Midnight Choir” Brad Cunningham is best known to area audiences as the leader of crowd-pleasing act Man in the Ring. The band’s ability to fuse a number of genres — folk, rock, country, blues and Latin among them — won the hearts and minds of diverse audiences at past Summerfests, Roots N Blues N BBQ festivals and countless dates around Mid-Missouri.


Opener “Chains on Me” is one of those cross-cutting songs that will hit the spot for fans of Southern rock, mainstream country and the sort of soulful roots music that acts such as Robert Randolph Band regularly deal out. “Fit for a King” is a gorgeous, gentle slice of ambling Americana with one of Cunningham’s most sublime melodies yet. Other highlights include the gritty rock-meetsgospel music feel of “Drive All Night” and “Down,” an effective, bluesy number.
The times they are a-changin’ for Man in the Ring, albeit slightly. Superlative violinist Kyle Pudenz is departing for the greener — and bluer? — grass of Nashville, Tenn., yet the majority of the band’s personnel will carry on under Cunningham’s name. “Midnight Choir” is the joint effort of those players, including Pudenz, and proves an important artistic step forward for Cunningham and Co.

If there was ever a reason to quibble with Man in the Ring’s sound, it was that it almost seemed a bit too smooth, as if the group’s silky melodies and too-good-to-be-true grooves betrayed the raw and rustic nature of genres the band so clearly loved. Any such frustration is remedied on “Midnight Choir.” While the songs are still accessible, the album settles on a sound that’s at once more scuffed-up and streamlined. In simplifying the sound, Cunningham has deepened it; in tapping more fully into the roots of roots music, he and his cohort have made a way forward.

If there are any missteps here, they come midstream with the bouncy, vaguely Jason Mraz-like “Processing” and Dixieland jazz feel of “I Don’t Know What I’m Doing.” With its shimmering island percussion and springy rhythms, the former cut will no doubt go over well with many listeners — but in the context of the album’s stellar first half, it rings a bit hollow and feels a bit trite. The latter is a lot of fun but comes off somewhat disingenuous and ultimately serves as a distraction from the album’s through line. The record works best when its players focus on doing a few things well and build their sound around tightly coiled freight-train rhythms, rich guitar sounds and Cunningham’s smoky, stirring melodies.
Reach Aarik Danielsen at 573-815-1731 or e-mail

This article was published on page A1 of the Thursday, July 26, 2012 edition of The Columbia Daily Tribune.Click here to Subscribe. - Columbia Daily Tribune

"Musical duo performing 'tin foil' music"

BY Juan Pablo Garcia
Thursday, August 27, 2009
COLUMBIA – Kyle Pudenz first picked up a violin at the age of eight. His grandfather gave him a half-size violin as a present to introduce Pudenz to the world of music, a world he is well acquainted with.

“(My grandfather) plays just about every instrument known to man,” said Pudenz, now 16 and a junior at Rock Bridge High School.

He has joined up with songwriter Brad Cunningham, who is a decade older. The two have played together for six months. Their music has developed a fan base that reaches into Nebraska and as far as Georgia.

At 7 p.m. Friday, the duo will perform at Cooper’s Landing with the backup band, (Man In The Ring Formerly) The Other Wives: drummer Drake Detwiler, lead guitarist Toby Runyon and bassist Parker Siddall.

Their repertoire includes covers and originals. “I call it tin foil because it’s the opposite of heavy metal,” Pudenz said about their genre.

Their sound is clean even when they play with the back-up band.

“My main goal is always to be as tight as we can,” Cunningham said. Pudenz added that his goal is to have fun.

Cunningham didn’t always perform with the violinist. Pudenz checked out the band at The Blue Note before he agreed to play with them.

Fortunately, Cunningham was a winner.

“It’s a unique combo,” he said about his partnership with Pudenz.

Cunningham grew up in Ashland. He attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he received a degree in entrepreneurship. He started playing guitar when he was 20 and has not put it down since. Cunningham returned to Missouri and now lives and performs in Columbia.

Pudenz is a member of the 2009 Missouri All State Orchestra, has played with the Missouri Youth Orchestra Chamber Players and is most proud of his time with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra this summer. At 16, he has had considerable performance experience.

Cunningham and Pudenz expect to play a show in Chicago with The Other Wives soon, which would be their farthest destination to date.

- The Missourian

"Man in the Ring gains local success"

By: Tom Carbone
Published March 16, 2010

In 2010, Brad Cunningham and his band, Man in the Ring, have already done what many local bands wish they could: successfully released their first full-length album and won a $2,000 cash prize at 100.1 The Buzz's battle of the bands contest, Bandamonium.

Man in the Ring's self-titled debut, released earlier this year, is impossible to categorize or even attach to a genre. It combines elements of reggae, funk, folk and Latin to create a sound unlike any other in Columbia today.

Cunningham's boomingly mature voice and Kyle Pudenz's violin stand out immensely in both recorded material and live footage of the band. Rounding out Man in the Ring is Toby Runyon, Parker Siddall and Drake Detwiler, who play guitar, bass and drums respectively.

Citing influences, such as the RX Bandits, Bob Marley and John Mayer, Cunningham said the band's inspiration comes from everywhere and can't be attributed to a single source.

"When you take five musicians and put them in a group together, everyone sort of has their pool that they pull from," he said.

Last year, Cunningham and the rest of the five-piece band brought their written material over to Mansion Studio in Columbia to record their debut record. The 10,000-square-foot colonial home-turned-studio, located on a lush seven-acre plot of land in the heart of Columbia, is owned by Bruce Barkelew, and many local bands have used it since its opening.

Adam Roehlke, a former front-of-house sound engineer for Wilco, mixed and mastered the album in the same studio, which leaves the record oozing with experience both musically and technically.

Its distinctive sound has recently been brought to the stage as Man in the Ring has been booking more and more shows in Columbia over the last few months.

"On stage, we combine improvisation solos and jam elements," said Cunningham, the bands chief singer and rhythm guitarist, while sitting in the Underground Cafe in Columbia. "Sometimes we include guest musicians too."

With an album behind them, Man in the Ring is continuing to develop as a band with hopes of gracing the stage at some bigger shows this summer and later this year.

"The great thing about recording is you get those songs behind you, and you can move on to new stuff," Cunningham said. "We're hoping to play some festivals this summer, and there has even been some talk about sending in our material to some labels. But at this point, I think we need to gain a little more momentum before anyone is going to show us any interest as far as (signing to a label) goes."

This weekend, Man in the Ring will be playing two benefit shows to support important causes. On Friday, the band will play a quieter and more intimate set at the Underground Cafe for a Haiti benefit. There is a $5 suggested donation for entry. The next night they will play at Bambino's Italian Cafe and later at Cafe Berlin for an Afghanistan benefit. Anyone interested in purchasing music from Man in the Ring can do so on iTunes and CD Baby, both of which have the band's full-length available for download. - The Maneater, Columbia, MO


Man in the Ring is  currently working on its next full-length album, with an anticipated release of Spring 2015.  Currently, all music is available at http://http//

"Wings" - a single from Midnight Choir - was named a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition for the Country category in 2013 and 2014. It has since been aired on local radio stations throughout the Midwest.

July 2012 resulted in the release of "Midnight Choir" under Cunningham's name. The album settles on a sound that's at once more scuffed-up and streamlined. In simplifying the sound, Cunningham has deepened it; in tapping more fully into the roots of roots music, he and his Man in the Ring cohort have made a way forward, and upward.

Man In The Ring Released released its second album "Live at the Blue Note" in March of 2011 after much anticipation.

Man In The Ring released its first self titled LP in December of 2009. 25% of the proceeds from the sale of the album are donated to charities in the Central Missouri area.



Brad Cunningham grew up in a small town outside of Columbia, Missouri. The son of a tinkerer who worked on juke boxes, he grew up listening to 50s and 60s pop, rock, and MoTown on old 45 records. Brad first started singing when he joined his school choir, but didn't pick up a guitar until he landed in Texas at Baylor University. While in Texas he was inspired to start writing music by the likes of Pat Green and Robert Earl Keen, Jr. Shortly after returning home to central Missouri, he formed a band with long-time friends. Brad financed the bands first self-titled album, Man in the Ring, after selling his shares in a small start-up company. Since then, the band has played hundreds of shows, recorded a live album, and learned all the benefits of small town fame in rural Missouri.

After releasing their self-titled LP in December of 2009, the band stayed busy living the dream and filling requests of Columbia to play around town and for local events. But never satisfied, Man in the Ring recorded a much anticipated live album in 2011, Live at the Blue Note that set their standard of performance even higher. Out of this, the band's performance resume grew, leading to appearances at the premier SXSW music festival showcase in Austin, Texas in 2011 and 2013.

True to its stock, Man in the Ring's sound is ever changing and always diverse. In July 2012, the favorite players of Man in the Ring released the more rootsy album Midnight Choir under the name Brad Cunningham. If there was ever a reason to quibble with Cunningham's first project, Man in the Ring, it was that it almost sounded a bit too smooth, as if the group's silky melodies and too-good-to-be-true grooves betrayed the raw and rustic nature of genres the band so clearly loved. Any such frustration is remedied on "Midnight Choir." While the songs are still accessible, the album settles on a sound that's at once more scuffed-up and streamlined. In simplifying the sound, Cunningham has deepened it; in tapping more fully into the roots of roots music, he and his cohort have made a way forward.

That path continues forward as the band prepares to release their second album as the Brad Cunningham Band, entitled "Good Timin' Man."  Recorded in Norman, Oklahoma with Grammy-nominated produced Wes Sharon, the record lands somewhere on the spectrum between John Fullbright and the Turnpike Troubadours, both of which are fellow 115 Recording alumni. 

Band Members