Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tommy Brown Keeps Rocking the Blues Away

One of the performers at this year's Pocono Blues Festival I was looking forward to seeing was the veteran blues shouter, Tommy Brown from Atlanta was part of the BoneDog Records Revue. Brown, now 78, first started performing and recording about six decades or so ago. Brown had a number of recordings for a variety labels, including the pair of "Remember Me" and "Southern Woman" for Chicago's United label which was produced by Willie Dixon and included Walter Horton on harmonica. Other records included "Atlanta Boogie," what was likely his biggest record, "Weepin' and Cryin' Blues," a rockabilly laced "The Thrill is Gone" (different song from the B.B. king hit), and a lively vocal rendition of "Honky Tonk." A couple years, the Pittsburgh-based BoneDog Records issued a CD "Remember Me," that included a mix of remakes of some of his older tunes like the title track, "Honky Tonk," and "Women and Cadillacs," along with a strong rendition of the Big Joe Turner hit, "Chains of Love."

The CD was full was a revelation as he sang with great power and style. It was with anticipation thus I watched him perform at the Poconos backed by a solid blues-eyed soul and blues band (Featuring a number of current members and/or alumni of the Billy Price Band) that first backed Git Shorty, a funky blues and soul singer an guitarist, and then the soulful vocals of Stevee Wellons. The Tommy Brown came on, and showed he could not only belt out his blues, but he danced and told jokes, some admittedly bad, as he brought decades of performing to the stage. His showmanship did not detract from his performance, and in fact added to his considerable appeal. During his rendition of "Weepin' and Cryin' Blues," Brown pretends to be weeping, gets own on his knees and during his Poconos performance, he fell off the stage, almost landing on a photographer.

BoneDog Records has just issued a follow-up release by Brown, "Rockin' Away My Blues." Backed by some of the same musicians that provided such solid support to him live, Brown graces us with new renditions of "Southern Woman," "Weepin' And Cryin' Blues," "Atlanta Boogie" (the hard rocking number he opened his Poconos set with), and "House Near the Railroad Track." He can shouter a hot rocker as well as get down. Several originals are provided such as a humorous, cautionary song about avoiding intimate relations with minors, "Leave It Alone," Mack Rice's warning about divorce (a hit for Johnnie Taylor) "Cheaper to Keep Her," and a classic Dave Bartholomew and Pearl King New Orleans R&B rocker, "Rock Away My Blues," that ends this CD on an uptempo note. BoneDog has done Tommy Brown good by the first rate production and strong idiomatic musicianship that help his vocals shine. Brown brings passion, soul, and humor to his performances. He shouts the blues yet never fails to entertain and this terrific disc shows the fires still burn brightly. BoneDog's website is www.bonedogrecords.com and this should be available from bonedog or cdbaby.com

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