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Junior Brown rules the night

Junior Brown
Stoughton Opera House
Stoughton, WI
March 10, 2012
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Story and photos by Jennifer Bronenkant

Junior Brown is a music legend in Texas but less well known here in the Midwest. Even so, he played to a sold out crowd at the historic Stoughton Opera House on Saturday night drawing fans from as far away as Chicago. Those familiar with his extraordinary talent took the opportunity to share in a night of foot tapping musical entertainment with a master.

Born in Indiana, but now a long time fixture of the Austin, Texas music scene, Fifty-nine year old Brown is still going strong. In between his regular weekly gig at the Austin landmark Continental Club, Brown hits the road to perform his unique brand of country music and is currently finishing his ninth album. His sound is deeply rooted in the classic country of his old hero Ernest Tubb which he combines with blues, rock, surf and even Hawaiian influences. This soulful music defies single genre classification.

Brown plays an instrument he created called a guit-steel, a six string guitar attached to a steel guitar which he rests on top of a music stand. He strums, picks and bends the notes on this instrument creating an unmistakable sound all his own. He is backed by his wife Tanya Rae on the rhythm guitar, Jason Rathman on the electric bass and James Gwyn on the snare drum.

Always dressed in a vintage styled suit and cowboy hat, he looks like he just walked off the stage of the Opry circa 1955.

Brown got the night rolling with one of his most successful songs, "Broke Down South Of Dallas," bringing cheers of recognition from the crowd. His eclectic set list included other popular numbers like the humorous "My Wife Thinks You're Dead," a rocking "I Hung It Up" and the novelty hit "Highway Patrol." He added in a couple of new numbers: "Hang Up And Drive" and slowed down the tempo with "Dancing The Apathy Waltz."

The acoustics in this little gem of a theater allowed Brown's unmistakable deep voice to fill the room beautifully. He also did several instrumental numbers which showcased his musicianship including "Surf Medley," "Steel Guitar Rag" and "Yakety Sax" (aka Benny Hill Theme Song).

The four song encore started out by stepping back to the first song he ever recorded, "Gotta Get Up Every Morning" followed by instrumentals where Brown pulled incredible sounds out of his guit-steel.

Brown is certainly a one of a kind with his unique songs, playing style and even his vintage look but it is as a live performer that he shines. A night with Junior Brown is exhilarating and not to be missed.

Stoughton Set list:
Broke Down South Of Dallas
Party Lights
Lifeguard Larry
My Wife Thinks You're Dead
I Hung It Up
Long Walk Back To San Antone
Yakety Sax
Freeborn Man
The Phantom Of The Opry
Hang Up And Drive
Dancing The Apathy Waltz
Highway Patrol
Give Me A Little Old Fashioned Love
Halfway Gone
Trust Me
Surf Medley

Gotta Get Up Every Morning
Steel Guitar Rag
Hillbilly Hula Gal

Junior Brownt Junior Brownt Junior Brownt
Junior Brownt Junior Brownt

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