Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown: Brilliant In Many Ways

Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was an extraordinarily gifted musician.

Most folks are aware that he was a great and influential blues guitarist. I found that the real core of the story, however, is that Brown was excelled on multiple instruments. They weren’t 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. This is what Verve writes:

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.

  • Scott

    Carl, Thanks for the profile on Gatemouth. I was lucky enough to see him several times. I always loved how he would tell the audience that he was NOT a blues musician.

  • Carl

    Thanks Scott. He was amazing. The precision of the top clip above is just unbelievable. The bottom clip speaks for itself. Do you happen to know who the piano player is? He’s terrific too.

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