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Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown: Brilliant In Many Ways

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Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was an extraordinarily gifted musician.

Many folks are aware that he was a great and influential blues guitarist. The core of the story, however, is that Brown was excelled on multiple instruments. The others were not just sidelights.

Check out the clip below, which features Brown on fiddle playing “Up Jumped the Devil.” (It seems that the devil is involved in an inordinate amount of fiddle tunes.) It really is something that has to be seen, clear through to his use of the fiddle to say “thank you” to the audience.

Brown was born in Louisiana in 1924 and was a fan of the jazz bands of the 1930s. The AllMusic profile says that he played “Take the A Train” throughout his career. His influence and wide-ranging skills are best summed up in a short and concise paragraph at the Verve site:

Louisiana-born, Texas-raised multi-instrumentalist Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown has been dishing up his unique blend of blues, R&B, country, jazz, and Cajun music for more than 50 years. A virtuoso on guitar, violin, harmonica, mandolin, viola, and even drums, Gatemouth has influenced performers as diverse as Albert Collins, Frank Zappa, Lonnie Brooks, Eric Clapton, and Joe Louis Walker.

Above is “Okie Dokey Stomp.” It’s a wild scene, with dancers and psychedelic sets. Most likely, this is from the short-lived show  called “The !!!! Beat.” The show was shot in Nashville and hosted by disc jockey Bill “Hoss” Allen. It ran for 26 episodes in 1966. Brown fronted the house band. The great clip of Freddie King playing “Hideaway” is from the show.

Wikipedia’s entries on Gatemouth Brown and “The !!!! Show” and Verve and AllMusic profiles of Brown were used for this post.

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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