Greg Brown (folk musician)
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2012)|
Greg Brown at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 2004
July 2, 1949 |
Fairfield, Iowa, USA
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, harmonica|
|Labels||Red House Records|
|Associated acts||Iris Dement, Bo Ramsey|
Gregory Dane Brown (born July 2, 1949) is a folk musician from the Hacklebarney region of southeast Iowa.
Early life 
Brown's first professional singing job came at age 18, running hootenannies (folksinger get-togethers) at the legendary Gerde's Folk City in New York City. A year later, Brown moved west to Portland and then Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where he was a ghostwriter for Buck Ram, founder of The Platters. Brown then traveled with a band for a few years, and then quit playing for a while before he moved back to Iowa and began writing songs and playing in clubs and coffeehouses.
During the 1980s, his reputation was established through frequent touring and recurring performances on A Prairie Home Companion. Subsequently, his work has been nominated for Grammy awards. He met Bob Feldman in 1983 at the old Coffeehouse Extemporé in Minneapolis, MN, and Bob liked Greg's music so much he wanted to create a record label through which Greg could get his music distributed more widely. Up until that point Greg had self-released two albums, 44 & 66 and The Iowa Waltz, which were both later re-released on the new label. They called the label Red House Records, after a home in which Greg lived in Iowa. Greg was Red House's first artist and Bob became the president of the label. To date, over 200 recordings have been released on Red House by artists such as Pat Donohue, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky, John McCutcheon and many more. They celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2013.
He has recorded more than two dozen albums, including his 1986 release, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, when he put aside his own lyric writing to set poems of William Blake to music. One Big Town, recorded in 1989, earned Brown three and a half stars in Rolling Stone, chart-topping status in AAA and The Gavin Report's Americana rankings and Brown's first Indie Award from NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors).
The Poet Game, his 1994 CD, received another Indie award from NAIRD. His critically acclaimed 1996 release, Further In, was a finalist for the same award. Rolling Stone's 4-star review of Further In called Brown "a wickedly sharp observer of the human condition." 1997's Slant 6 Mind earned Brown his second Grammy nomination. In 1999, Red House re-released One Night, a 1983 live performance originally on Minneapolis' Coffeehouse Extemporé Records.
Brown has an established history for allowing his music to be used to raise funds and awareness for environmental and social causes. The Solid Heart CD and accompanying video were recorded in 1999 during a two-night benefit for In Harmony, an organization that supports foster children and their families. Solid Heart also features Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer and Kate MacKenzie. In 2001, Charlie Parr & Mikkel Beckmen and Jeff White & The Front contributed to Down in the Valley: Barn Aid Benefit Concert. In 2002, Going Driftless: An Artist’s Tribute to Greg Brown, with selections by a number of female singers including Ani DiFranco, Gillian Welch, and Shawn Colvin, as well as Brown's three daughters, saw proceeds from its sale go to benefit The Breast Cancer Fund. In 2005, a live benefit for Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve was recorded and released in 2007 as Yellow Dog on the EarthWorks Music label.
Known for his personal and intimate concerts, Brown's most revealing recordings are live. In addition to One Night and several of his benefit CDs, 1995's The Live One (recorded in Traverse City, Michigan), 2003's Live at the Black Sheep, In the Hills of California: Live from the Kate Wolf Music Festival 1997–2003 (released in 2004), and 2007's Live from the Big Top, recorded at the Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield, Wisconsin bring a glimpse of the power of Brown's live shows. In 2007, he was nominated for a Folk Alliance Award in the category of Contemporary Artist of the Year.
Brown's songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Ani DiFranco, Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Iris DeMent and Joan Baez. Baez's album Dark Chords on a Big Guitar takes its name from a line in Brown's song "Rexroth's Daughter"; that song and "Sleeper" are covered on the album.
Brown's mother played electric guitar, his grandfather played banjo, and his father was an electrician who became a Pentecostal minister in Earlville, Iowa, and later converted to the Baha'i Faith.
- Hacklebarney (1974) (with Dick Pinney)
- 44 & 66 (1980)
- The Iowa Waltz (1981)
- One Night (1983)
- In the Dark with You (1985)
- Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1986)
- One More Goodnight Kiss (1988)
- One Big Town (1989)
- Down in There (1990)
- Dream Café (1992)
- Friend of Mine (1993) (with Bill Morrissey)
- Bathtub Blues (1993)
- The Poet Game (1994)
- The Live One (1995)
- Further In (1996)
- Slant 6 Mind (1997)
- Solid Heart (1999) (benefit CD)
- Over and Under (2000)
- Covenant (2000)
- Down in the Valley: Barn Aid Benefit Concert (2001)
- Milk of the Moon (2002)
- Live at the Black Sheep (2003)
- If I Had Known: Essential Recordings, 1980-96 (2003)
- Honey in the Lion's Head (2004)
- In the Hills of California (2004)
- The Evening Call (2006)
- Yellow Dog (2007)
- Greg Brown: Live from the Big Top (2007)
- Dream City: Essential Recordings, 1997-2006 (2009)
- Freak Flag (2011)
- Hymns to What is Left (2012)
Tribute albums 
- Songs of Greg Brown (Prudence Johnson) (1991)
- Going Driftless: An Artist's Tribute to Greg Brown (Various artists) (2002)
Featured on 
- Aspen Times News interview. Accessed on April 22, 2008.
- Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen (2002-11-24). "Industry Profile: Bob Feldman". CelebrityAccess. Retrieved 2006-04-08.
- Greg Brown Tastes the Honey, Country Standard Time interview. Accessed December 5, 2008.
- Rolling Stone review of Further In. Accessed December 5, 2008.
- Folk Alliance Award nominees for 2007 at About.com. Accessed December 5, 2008.
- Biography at official site
- Greg Brown Biography at Musicianguide.com