Kenny Brown (guitarist)

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For other people named Ken or Kenny Brown, see Ken Brown (disambiguation).
Kenny Brown
Kenny Brown.jpg
Background information
Born (1953-07-05) July 5, 1953 (age 63)
Selma, Alabama, United states
Genres Blues
Instruments Guitar
Associated acts R. L. Burnside, Mississippi Fred McDowell

Kenny Brown (born July 5, 1953 on the Air Force base in Selma, Alabama) is an American blues slide guitarist skilled in the North Mississippi Hill Country blues style.

Brown apprenticed with Mississippi Joe Callicott, who was his neighbor in Nesbit, Mississippi, from age 12[1][2] to 15, when Callicott died.[3] He had heard Othar Turner and others in nearby Como picnics, and cited Junior Kimbrough, Johnny Winter, and Johnny Shines as influences.[3]

Around 1971, beside working in construction, Brown began playing with two other musicians. Johnny Woods would make an occasional playing partner to his death in 1990.[3] More steady was Brown's learning with R. L. Burnside, who claimed Brown as his "adopted son,"[4][5] and affectionately called him "white boy on guitar"[3] and "my white son."[citation needed] Brown has noted that they had trouble to book dates, when European event organizers would hear he is a white musician playing the traditionally African American blues,[6] and that American record producers and critics have similar reservations.[1]

Still in the early seventies they started to perform in their region, and would keep up as a duo for twenty years. Cedric Burnside joined their tours from about 1994,[7] as Burnside's reputation surged. In the 1990s and early 2000s Brown participated in most of Burnside's tours and recordings, including the Burnside-Jon Spencer Blues Explosion collaborations[3] and the remixed albums.

Brown first appeared abroad in Sweden in 1989, and later in the 1992 Åmåls Blues Fest with George "Mojo" Buford.[6]

On record, he plays second guitar on two of Junior Kimbrough's albums throughout, and on some tracks on the posthumous compilation, God Knows I Tried. He is on tracks by Asie Payton, CeDell Davis and Paul "Wine" Jones, as well as Frank Frost and Cyndi Lauper.

Brown's own debut album was Goin' Back to Mississippi (1996), produced by Dale Hawkins. He has recorded one album for Fat Possum Records, Stingray (2003). He released Cheap, Fast, and Dirty (2006) with Danish guitarist Troels Jensen, at Olufsen Records. Meet Ya In The Bottom (2008) is a CD Baby release. His double album Can't Stay Long (2011) [8] was released on Devil Down Records.

In their 2003 tour he has opened for Widespread Panic (and the extended combo Smiling assassins[9]), as he earlier had with Burnside,[10][11]

Brown's guitar work was featured in the 2006 film Black Snake Moan, where he provided backing for star Samuel L. Jackson's vocals.[12] He can be seen in the film's climax as a guitarist in a blues band, playing alongside Cedric Burnside.

Brown lives in Potts Camp, Mississippi, in the North Mississippi Hill Country with his wife Sara.[13]


  • You See Me Laughin': The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen (2003; released by Fat Possum Records in 2005). Produced and directed by Mandy Stein. Oxford, Mississippi: Plain Jane Productions, Inc; Fat Possum Records.


  1. ^ a b Rick Reger (2003-06-27). "Kenny Brown is the real deal in blues land". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2015-05-02. 
  2. ^ Amy Evans. "Kenny Brown". Mississippi Arts Commission. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Michael Koster; Carter Grice (Summer 1999). "Kenny Brown - America's Finest Slide Guitar Player? [interview]". Thirsty Ear Magazine. Archived from the original on 2013-09-09. 
  4. ^ Kenny Brown page, at Fat Possum
  5. ^ Dave Rubin (March 2006). "Blues on the Edge Kenny Brown". Guitar Player. Archived from the original on 2008-01-16. 
  6. ^ a b Jefferson interview. Issue 141, March 2004. Swedish original, via Google Translate
  7. ^ Ray M. Stiles (1998-08-01). "Interview with R.L. Burnside & Kenny Brown". Blues on Stage. 
  8. ^ Kenny Brown: Can't Stay Long at AllMusic. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  9. ^ Michael B. Sutch (March 4, 2003). "SMILING ASSASSINS... [live review]". JamBase. Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  10. ^ "Widespread Panic To Grip U.S.". Billboard. August 29, 2003. Retrieved May 5, 2015. 
  11. ^ Andria Lisle (2003-02-15). "Local Beat". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  12. ^ Kenny Brown on IMDb
  13. ^ Sue Watson (August 11, 2004). "Blues musician gets grant [interview]". Retrieved 2015-06-02. 

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