Why you should care

Rock stars are listening. Shouldn’t you? 

The show was billed as a family event, a rare afternoon gig for the funk-jazz band Soulive, in town for an annual residency at the Brooklyn Bowl. Babies bounced in carriers, toddlers chased the lights, preteens tried and failed to not look excited for an excuse to legally hang in a bar.

Few expected the all-ages atmosphere to extend to the stage. Or that Brandon Niederauer, a slim 11-year-old beneath a mini-Afro, would threaten to out-play the pros.

He’s not just a novelty act. Close your eyes, and it’s just a helluva axe solo.

Niederauer is a prodigy. Full stop. Is this what Hendrix or Clapton sounded like in grade school? The question, when you hear Niederauer, doesn’t seem out of place. It’s not just about the licks, which he trades with greats like Warren Haynes. It’s the confidence. How many adults would feel comfortable jumping on stage, after just a few years of lessons, with seasoned journeymen who have decades more experience? Face a packed house of cheering adults with nothing between you and the fans but a scaled down guitar? And then have the cojones to flat out rage the strings?

Niederauer has taken up with more than a few bands who have passed through the Brooklyn Bowl, one of the city’s top music venues.

He joined The Revivalists for a version of “Whipping Post” that’s worth putting the boss on hold, moving your meetings back and indulging for eight solid minutes of electric wow. The real fireworks launch around the 2-minute mark.

On board the music-themed Jam Cruise in January, Robert Randolph invited Brandon onstage, handed over his Telecaster, set him up on an amp, and jam they did.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this kid is that he’s not just a novelty act. Close your eyes, and it’s just a helluva axe solo. Knowing that it comes from someone with so much future ahead of him just feels like a big bonus for us all.

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