At 6-foot-4 with a full beard and longish hair, Bradford Loomis has the look of a fierce mountain man but there's a gentle soul behind the warm brown eyes.
"I suppose it may sound somewhat clich, but I had a pretty brutal childhood," Loomis told the Herald in an email. "I was left trying to sort through all the betrayal, rejection, anger and find meaning and hope in all of it."
Loomis says music has moved him for as long as he can remember, and he uses it to exercise some of his demons.
"So in my songs, I try to tell stories about overcoming fear, relentlessly holding on to hope, fighting for love and letting go of shame," he said.
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Loomis, 35, of Snohomish, brings his American folk music sound to the Tri-Cities in a show for all ages March 14 at the Emerald of Siam in Richland. Showtime is 5 p.m. There is no cover charge.
The songwriter-guitarist discovered a kinship with music as a boy. He got through school staying involved with choir, band and orchestra, he said.
The music turned out to be therapy as he taught himself to write songs about the loneliness that comes with surviving a troubled childhood.
He says he sees music as an unparalleled power that provides lost souls with a means to sort through, process and reflect on their past, their emotions and their experiences in a positive way.
"Music brings people together, showing us that we are not alone," he said. "It also helps us to see a perspective that we had never considered before. It provides commentary on what is happening around us in such a strikingly powerful way. That's why protest songs, for example, are so iconic."
Loomis, who grew up in the Northwest, didn't start out to be a professional musician.
"I had a wide variety of jobs while I was trying to ignore what I was supposed to be doing," he said. "Mostly in customer service, as I've always enjoyed helping others. I am an extrovert in many ways."
Once he met his future wife and fell in love, Loomis discovered he could overcome his past and find forgiveness and redemption.
He and his wife Kimberly also worked out a system two years ago so he could make music for a living.
"We promised ourselves that one of us would always be home with our three kids," Loomis said.
When he lost his job in 2008, his wife went to work while he stayed home. He also started playing more night gigs, which eventually led to performing full time.
"We threw ourselves at the foolhardy notion I could make a living as a musician," Loomis said. "Now, nearly four years later, both my wife and I are home unless I'm on tour, and we remain very involved in our children's lives. We are teaching them how to pursue their dreams."
A sample of how Loomis deals with the demons of his past through music can be viewed in his video Dead Man's Dance at bit.ly/1fSHkfC, which was taped on an old wooden bridge in a heavily wooden area near Arlington, north of Seattle.
His newest album, Into the Great Unknown, was released last May.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal