by Tony Schillaci and Don Church
Bradford Gross is a 36-year-old Scorpio, hailing from Pawcatuck, Stonington HS class of 1990. His first paid job was subbing for his drum teacher at the Colonial Theatre across from Westerly Park. The gig, he says, was a “teen age, gut wrenching-dynamic dynamo of a drumming rendition of Godspell.” It planted a seed for his lifelong quest in music.
This is his second “featurette” in The Resident. He used to drive a classic Ice Cream Truck (the first one in many years in the Pawcatuck/Westerly area), and he was also a recovering cancer patient at the time. He considers our current interest “very cool” – his ice cream pun, not ours.
Currently living in Hastings, England, Brad and his wife Victoria from Liverpool have a two-year-old boy named Milo. Brad’s a semi-pro musician (drummer), and works in a host of jazz, acoustic, rock, funk and country/western groups, touring and recording. After 10 years down in the Florida Keys teaching and playing drums, where he and Victoria met, they decided to give London a go.
He landed a job at London’s Science Museum, as an “explainer” creating shows “blowing stuff up and setting stuff on fire. Great job!” He and other performers created the world’s ONLY Museum-Funded Science-Based Comedy Edu-tainment troupe, called Punk Science. They are like the band “The Police” mixed with the Science Guy. They’ve traveled all over Europe, worked with big companies – The British Council, Google, National Geographic, Honda, and did a bunch of big UK TV shows. “Last year, we were asked to perform at Buckingham Palace, and we were received by the Queen herself, so now we can put that little By Royal Appointment emblem by out name”, Brad proudly told us.
Punk Science was approached by a TV company and did a 13 episode kids show called “Scientrific”, which ran on Discovery Kids for a few years. They scored a book deal with McMillan, to produce an interactive funny science book. They also filmed a DVD that goes inside the cover of the book – of crazy dangerous experiments you “can’t do at home” with liquid nitrogen, helium, methane, and hydrogen.
The book is called “Do Try This at Home,” and his mother Janet “is over the moon that I was part of a book, so I think she contacted The Resident in the hope that you would ‘big up’ her boy. But the book has merit, and took us a year to whip into shape.”
“The point of Punk Science is that the world is a mess, and less and less kids these days are interested in sciences – Punk Science attempts to enthuse all young people about the possibilities of science, without coming off as smartie-pants. If a drummer in a rock band can explain something interesting to you in plain terms, chances are you can explain it to someone else the same way, or better!”
The book is available across the UK, and eventually Europe, and the US. It sold 15,000 copies it’s first week, and they are hoping the Christmas holiday season will increase sales.
Brad and Victoria lived in England “6 years now, and love it here. But I do need my ice coffee and doughnut fix when I come home. The Brits just don’t get ice coffee,” he explained.
Regarding his Pawcatuck and Westerly home turf, Brad claims that “Soupy (Sopressata salami) is the raw, spicy cured meat, that holds the community together. Soupy keeps the peace between CT and RI. Without soupy, there would be war, bloody war, soupy is the “cure”…the peace. Except for Vegetarians. Not for them, sadly.”
His loving, supportive parents in Pawcatuck are Richard “Andy” & Janet Gross. Janet, who has been a Montessori School teacher in the area for more than 30 years has since retired from teaching, and works part time in a health food store in Ledyard – The Green Market – as a specialist on gluten-free diets. “She is a firecracker of energy and enthusiasm.”
Andy boasts a career in Banking in CT for over 40 years, including being with Chelsea Groton for many years. He was involved in all kinds of civic programs over the years, including Special Needs Programs, The Fisherman’s Assn., and Children’s Charities. Since retiring, Andy started his own energy-saving business, PowerG. Brad claims that Andy is “one heck of a guy.”
“Being over here a while changed me,” says Brad. “I wear a cravat, and a flat cap, a mac and dress shoes. I’ve become a bit of a chap. I might have difficulty going back. Visit me if you’re here. Hastings and Brighton are simply delish!”
If you happen to be going to Hastings, England sometime soon, be sure to pack some Soupy in your luggage. Brad would certainly appreciate a little taste of home for the holidays!