When a 300-pound man kisses you on the lips and welcomes you as his own offspring after the show, you know you've found your path in life.
"My son!" Roby Kap had exclaimed, his hands still grasping Brad Wheeler's ears in the wake of the kiss. "I knew you were coming. I had heard of you. Who else plays harmonica like us? We were bound to find each other."
Tall and lanky, the then-21-year-old Wheeler (better known as "Bad” Brad from his days as a radio host for Utah public radio station KRCL) looked nothing like the stout older man. Kap nevertheless began introducing Wheeler to friends and family as an illegitimate child. They formed a fast friendship, sealed with the gift of a vintage harmonica microphone.
It had to happen over a harmonica, too.
"The harmonica is this weird instrument. The fact that I chose the harmonica meant I wasn't going to hang out with young people. I had to hang out with older people. People who wanted to talk about paying their dues. I guess the anthropology background was a factor too.” (Wheeler's degree ultimately spanned archeology, anthropology and art.)
If you play a harmonica and study archeology, you might be an old soul.
An Ogden Original
"I started playing the harmonica when I was 19. When I turned 21 I went to check out the Grey Moose Pub in Ogden. I'm standing up near the stage while this band is playing, and this big guy in the shadows in the back of the bar catches my eye and begins motioning."
Wheeler pantomimes and interprets a series of gestures indicating the man's intentions: "You. Play. On stage. Now." As Wheeler tells it, he was terrified. He didn't even know if he was in the right key; he didn't even really know "key."
But he jumped on stage and joined in. Happily, Wheeler reports, he happened to be in the right key. After the unexpected introduction, Wheeler later returned to Ogden's 25th Street to a bar Kap was running at the time in order to track him down. Kap knew Wheeler would come back, and had his vintage gift awaiting just that moment.