Athol’s ‘Piano Kid’ playing for troops in Florida

  • Bradley Bartlett-Roche, 13, of Athol, at his studio at his family’s home. Bartlett-Roche, who recently performed at Fenway Park with Billy Joel, performs every weekend outside Faneuil Hall in Boston. Recorder file photo

  • Bradley Bartlett-Roche, 13, of Athol, plays his piano at his family's home Monday, September 12. Bartlett-Roche, who recently performed at Fenway Park with Billy Joel, performs every weekend outside Faneuil Hall in Boston. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Athol native Bradley Bartlett-Roche, right, plays with Billy Joel at Fenway Park on Aug. 8. contributed photo

  • Courtesy GoFundMeAthol resident Bradley Bartlett-Roche, known by the stage name Bradley James and also known as the "Boston Piano Kid," with his brother, Nick, a member of the U.S. Air Force. The younger Bartlett-Roche has been invited to perform a holiday concert at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida on Dec. 23. He has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money to defray costs.

Recorder Staff
Friday, December 22, 2017

He’s not a member of the USO, but 15-year-old Bradley Bartlett-Roche of Athol is set to perform a holiday concert for airmen in Florida today.

Bartlett-Roche, who goes by the stage name Bradley James and is also known as “The Boston Piano Kid” for his weekend performances busking in Faneuil Hall, has left with his parents for Eglin Air Force Base, where he plans to play a mix of holiday classics, originals, boogie and blues and classic rock for the service members stationed there.

But the concert will also serve as a family Christmas celebration of sorts, as one of those service members is his 24-year-old brother, Nicholas Roche.

“It is an honor and privilege for me to perform a holiday concert for our servicemen and women,” he said in an email. “My brother Nick enlisted in the Air Force this year and so it means even more to me to have this opportunity. I’m proud to be able to donate my time and talents to support our troops.”

Bartlett-Roche has started a GoFundMe campaign to help his family defray the costs of the trip to Florida and back.

“We will be renting an RV to haul all of my equipment for the show and driving 24 hours each way to make this happen,” he wrote on the GoFundMe page earlier this week, which can be found at http://bit.ly/2BvAhv5.

According to Bartlett-Roche, the Air Force called him on Dec. 18 to ask him to perform.

“The concert is free and I am donating my gift of music for these incredible people who selflessly keep our country safe,” he wrote on his GoFundMe page. “In the spirit of Christmas and in the season of giving, I just want to make a difference in the lives of our servicemen and women and bring them holiday cheer. I want to let them know that they are honored, loved and appreciated and not alone. Music speaks where words fail and my gift to them is this holiday concert.”

Bartlett-Roche is no stranger to performing in front of an audience. He has played in Faneuil Hall since he was 11 and released his first CD, “Bermuda Love,” at the same age. In August 2016, he played a song with Billy Joel at a Fenway Park concert and in October of this year he performed on “Harry,” a television show hosted by Harry Connick Jr.

In 2016, he also completed an advanced five-week summer program at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where his age required him to obtain special permission. While at Berklee, Bartlett-Roche studied piano and tenor saxophone and was chosen as the solo keyboardist for the Berklee College of Music All-Star Rock Band.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or
413-772-0261, ext. 258.
On Twitter: @DomenicPoli