If you’ve been in the music business long enough, just glimpsed through the the history of the Billboard Country Charts, or even heard of the unique double necked “Guit-Steel” guitar, you would know that Junior Brown is a living legend to guitar aficionados already.
Born 1952 in Cottonwood, AZ., Junior showed musical talent at an early age playing little melodies on the family piano before he could talk. Curiosity led him to an old guitar in his grandparents’ attic, thus setting the stage for a lifelong interest in the steel strings. After a series of high school dance bands, he hit the Country dance club circuit full time while still in his teens. This continued for decades all over the United States and many excursions abroad.
After settling in Austin, Texas, with his wife and rhythm guitarist-singer, Tanya Rae, he began his weekly tenure at the legendary Continental Club where the band successfully honed their craft leading ultimately to a major label signing (Curb), a Country Music Association Award (CMA), three Grammy nods, a Bluegrass Music Association Award (IBMA) with legend, Ralph Stanley, duets on record and video appearances with everyone from Hank Thompson and George Jones to The Beach Boys and Stone Temple Pilots.
Then came movies (Me Myself and Irene, Trespass, Still Breathing, The Dukes of Hazard, Blue Collar Comedy Tour I and II), TV shows (X Files, Chris Issac, Austin City Limits), multiple appearances on Letterman, Conan, Saturday Night Live, and even a cameo appearance in SpongeBob Squarepants. And there were the national ad campaigns, like The Gap, Lee Jeans and Lipton Tea.
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Lately Junior has been concentrating just as hard as always on his songwriting skills and has released his latest album – “Volume Ten.”
Now, here’s the thing about Junior Brown. After all these years of simply superb music, he is still not well known to your ‘average radio listener’. To many, he’s some country cat with a cool name. Yet many of those ‘average radio listeners’ to whom I introduced his latest album to, became instant fans. Fact is Junior is a true artist’s artist, with musical concepts, visions and the technical virtuosity that go well beyond the ‘average radio listener’ at times.
Junior Brown’s roots Americana sound on “Volume Ten” is a perfect mix of Ry Cooder, Chet Atkins and Johnny Cash rolled all-into-one. Junior’s talent and experience is awesome and unparalleled in his genre today.
The songs styles on the 6-track album range from folk, jazz, country, blues, rock n’roll and bluegrass. Junior plays them all with absolute nonchalance. If you are a fan of classic American music, clever storytelling, all rolled into a charming, intelligent and entertaining mixture, then this is the CD for you.
As an avid music fan and do-it-yourself guitarist, with an abiding interest in the origins of popular music, I was astounded by Junior Brown’s vocal and “Guit-Steel” ability, to sketch such deep and intense moods and sounds on this album.
As always, excellent sidemen and women bring invaluable contributions to the songs. Tanya Rae Brown (Rhythm Guitar), James Gwyn (Drums), Jase Rathman, Jake Hooker, Spencer Starnes (Bass), Danny Levin (Piano and Fiddle) and Eric Hokkanen (Fiddle) add wonderful colors and rhythms. My first thought on hearing this was that Junior’s voice takes its rightful place upfront in the mix, while still allowing plenty of room for the band and his own string playing fills and riffs to shine through.
I am listening to “Volume Ten” as I write and it is really great…considering I’m not a Country music fan. Its very difficult choosing just one standout track here, as this Cd begs to be played start to finish.
From the swinging opener “Hang Up And Drive” to the closing riff-filled instrumental, “Almost To Tulsa,” every sound is absolutely finger-lickin’ good! In the true sense of the word.
Ok to be honest, my personal favorite track, is the classy, laid-back, “Apathy Waltz,” but I’ll keep this to myself.
There’s not many artists that make albums like this anymore. “Volume Ten” is authentic, refreshing and dynamic. The individual songs are great in themselves, but they shine brightest when one listens to the album from beginning to end.
Junior Brown is a master of Americana roots music and infuses ingenious artistry with genuine emotion into his sound. If you’re into Country or just love great guitar work, don’t waste anytime, just surf over to iTunes and buy this virtuoso effort already.
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