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Junior Brown
A Concert Review

June 17, 1997

The House of Blues

Chicago, IL

A Review and Photos by
The Dude on the Right
A local radio personality, Kevin Matthews, here in Chicago, turned me on to the music of Junior Brown a little over a year ago. He was playing the song "Highway Patrol," doing an interview, and I just thought that his guitar playing was so cool. Junior Brown, being in the country genre of music, I figured would start to get some radio play, but it sure as shit didn't happen here in Chicago. Nope, the music of Junior Brown probably wasn't cutesy enough, maybe a little too on the edge, or maybe it was just too cool. I'm betting on the last of those.

Anywho, Junior Brown was headlining a gig at the House of Blues, and few of his closest fans showed up as well as a lot of tourists just to say they've been at a show at the House of Blues, and, well, yours truly, and you know what, he still amazed me.

The last time I saw him he opened up for The Mavericks, and I was duly impressed then. This time was no different. Junior and his band, consisting of his wife, Tonya Rae, a dude on an upright bass, and another dude playing a snare drum (yup, that's it, one snare), blasted through some older ones, hit some newer ones, and tossed in a few covers to compliment the bunch.

In all honesty, I can't comment too much on the set list because the only CD I am familiar with is "Junior High" which came out a couple of years ago, so the classics of "Highway Patrol" and "My Wife Thinks You're Dead" were obvious. But even not knowing the newer songs, one thing I do know is that Junior isn't one for witty crowd banter - I think he lets the lyrics of his songs handle that job, but what always seems to impress the people who have never seen him is his guitar work.

Playing his guit-steel, a double neck combo of an electric guitar and steel guitar, Junior uses off-beat tuning and just a wailing precision that made a lot of those tourists take note and listen. Me, I already knew it was there, I just enjoyed it.

So what else needs to be said about Junior's show? Well, I told you he has some fun, witty, and meaningful lyrics, I told you about his guitar playing, he has the maybe the best dressed band in the business, and his show is fun. Well, this show did have some problems, and most of it technical. There were some mike level problems from where I was listening, some mixing problems, especially while Junior was wailing out some blues jams (way over-amplified and distorted), and it was too bad because it sort of ruined a really good show. I'm torn because normally I would knock a rating down a notch, but he still impresses me every time I see him, so I guess I'll let it ride.

Well, Junior Brown might be too cool for country, but he isn't too cool for me. Liked him from the start, still like him now, I just wish the country radio people weren't so stuffy headed and would give him some of the radio play he deserves. Oh well. TWO THUMBS UP for Junior Brown at the House of Blues in Chicago.

That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right!!! L8R!!


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