Pure music.
inset photo of Greg Brown
by Larry McGahey
Greg Brown (p.2)
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He's an open bible preacher's son, and grandson of a poet. His roots run deep: to the land, to family, and to the richest and oldest veins of American music. Hillbilly country, black blues masters, and the history of American folk resonate together in his records. His partnership with fellow Iowan Bo Ramsey is alchemical, and they help keep some of the most elusive and juiciest grooves of yesteryear alive. That's especially true on this new brilliant album, Covenant, on Red House Records. You can hear the mutual respect and the kinship between these corn belt brothers, and Bo's dirty guitar and low-tech production are indispensable. There are grooves from the Delta, from the plains and from the hills. And a worldly hillbilly's take on the poetry of love, and it sounds good to me.

If you're looking for it, Brown is the real McCoy. He sings so low my boombox was gonna blow a gasket, I had to play the CD in the system in the living room. He sounds like a white Howlin Wolf sometimes, and that's not an easy trick. A man's man and his own man, he's also admired by the some of the best female singer songwriters on the scene, who are recording a tribute album of covers of his songs.

Greg Brown talks a lot about community, its value and the need to return to it in the face of the acquisitive technological path our country's been on for decades. On Covenant, he also sings about love in a way I seldom hear men do. Love lost, love desired or abandoned, and songs about love that's gone on for decades. These I found truly moving, enviable and enlightening.

Our conversation was easy, and we had a few good laughs. He's definitely something I was looking for, a full grown man in folk that walked, talked and grooved like somebody that had seen and survived it all. He's a little bit of what the world needs now.

Reckon he'll be making records till they lay him down, and that's mighty good to know.           continue to interview

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