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Spewing poetry over
bare bones guitar

Greg Brown
Shank Hall
Milwaukee, WI
Nov. 10, 2007
Greg Brown Greg Brown

Story and photos by Matt Schwenke

Well-known within the music business with the likes of Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Shawn Colvin and Ani DiFranco performing his songs, folk/blues singer/songwriter Greg Brown has relatively quietly released more than two dozen albums since his first solo release in 1980, but with little promotion 27 years later, Brown managed to pack the venue.

In a style seemingly at odds with his folk/blues credentials (he was born to guitar playing mother and a Holy Roller preacher in Iowa), Brown donned a nit cap with a half-zipped hoody revealing a bare chest underneath, creating some sort of folk gangster look. But as his gravelly, rumbling voice began spewing poetry over bare bones guitar, Brown proved to be a true-blue folkster and one of the best kept secrets flying underneath pop culture radar. Stoked by the guitar of Bo Ramsey (whose garb fit the folk/blues bill perfectly), Brown's "Kokomo," from the 2006 release The Evening Call, was a fiery tale of traveling and women, while "Lord, I Have Made You a Place in My Heart," from the 1994 release The Poet Game, was a slower and deliberate stroll through heartbreak. Also backed by a bassist, Brown's blues grooves cut deep in "Joy Tears," and in "Brand New '64 Dodge" it was Brown's words that did the digging.

By the time Brown and company rousted the crowd with The Man in Black's "Folsom Prison Blues," Brown had transformed into the new look of folk, even while returning to the stage for an encore version of "Out in the Country," from his 1981 release Iowa Waltz.

Greg Brown Greg Brown
Greg Brown Greg Brown

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