As a geezer – a term I embrace although others use it dismissively – I try to write my opinions about the type of music that I think might interest my…er…co-geezers. But even if you don’t consider yourself a geezer you might want to keep an open mind and read on, because you might find that you’ve underestimated us – again – and not considered our eclectic tastes in music. (Geezers are used to being underestimated, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get cranky about it.)
Although I haven’t planned it that way, it seems as though I often find myself writing about guitar music, and once again we’re going down that road — although it’s not necessarily a “country” road. (Groan.) Even though this artist is probably most at home with country music he actually embraces more than one genre. Sometimes his music has a blues feel or even a rock tinge, other times he can sound like he’s straight from the Islands with the twang of Hawaiian steel guitar. But if that’s not enough talent for any one person, he also has a rich baritone voice that will surprise you with its quality.
Junior Brown is a wizard on almost any kind of guitar you want to name, but is probably best known for playing an instrument he had a hand in inventing! He calls it a “guit-steel” and it’s actually a double-necked guitar that can be played as both a regular six-stringed instrument and as a steel guitar. He uses that odd, misshapen piece of hardware to create a lot of different sounds, and they are all pleasing to the ear.
Brown was always a demon guitarist, and after spending some time as a guitar teacher he decided to expand his horizons into performing. He began to build his reputation in the eighties and he’s been a fixture around the music industry ever since. He’s generated several albums of his own and has appeared with other stars too — he’s even toured with Dylan. One of his more interesting appearances was on the Beach Boys’ album Stars And Stripes, performing a special version of their song “409” — Brown played guitar and sang lead while the Beach Boys sang backup on their own song!
I’m including a couple of samples that illustrate the breadth of Junior Brown’s music. First is a pure instrumental that’s been around since the late 40s and has been recorded by a lot of guitarists, but they’ve mostly fallen short of the talent of Hank Garland, the song’s author. Listen to “Sugarfoot Rag” by Junior Brown and you’ll be amazed — and I think Garland would have been too. The second sample is a sort of novelty tune with a kick, and features Brown’s wonderful deep voice. It’s called “Highway Patrol”.
Both songs are from his album, Guit With It, which he brought out in 1993. It’s a good one, and includes an original composition of Brown’s, “Guit-steel Blues”, that he extends for over 11 minutes!
Try this under-appreciated but immensely talented artist, and treat yourself to some good geezer music.