Special Guests
Saturday, May 15, 1999

Greg Brown's mother played electric guitar, his grandfather played banjo, and his father was a Holy Roller preacher in the Hacklebarney section of Iowa, where the Gospel and music are a way of life. Brown's first professional singing job came at age 18 in New York City, running hootenannies (folksinger get-togethers) at the legendary Gerdes Folk City. After a year, Brown moved west to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where he was a ghostwriter for Buck Ram, founder of the Platters. Tired of the fast-paced life, Brown traveled with a band for a few years, and even quit playing for a while before he moved back to Iowa and began writing songs and playing in midwestern clubs and coffeehouses. Brown's songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Shawn Colvin, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. He has also recorded more than a dozen albums, including his 1986 release, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, when he put aside his own songwriting to set poems of William Blake to music. One Big Town, recorded in 1989, earned Brown three and a half stars in Rolling Stone, chart-topping status in AAA and The Gavin Report's Americana rankings and Brown's first Indie Award from NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors). The Poet Game, his 1994 CD, received another Indie award from NAIRD. His critically acclaimed 1996 release, Further In, was a finalist for the same award. Rolling Stone's four-star review of Further In called Brown "a wickedly sharp observer of the human condition." 1997's Slant 6 Mind (Red House Records) earned Brown his second Grammy nomination. His latest CD, One Night (Red House), is a re-release of a 1983 live performance originally on Minneapolis' Coffeehouse Extemporé Records.

Junior Brown grew up in the woods outside of Kirksville, Indiana, listening to his neighbor's country music and his father's big band and swing 78s, as well as his own rock, pop, and country heroes. He started playing gigs at teen nightclubs in the mid-'60s and gravitated to the life of a musician in the eclectic scene of mid-'70s Austin, Texas, his adopted hometown. He spent a few years playing steel and electric guitar in various bands and on sessions, and decided along the way to work toward being a solo artist. Following this dream, he was inspired to create the guit-steel, an instrument featuring both guitar and steel guitar necks fused into one instrument. He switches between the two during songs. Brown produced his first independent release, 12 Shades of Brown, in 1990. His second CD, Guit With It, led to a record deal with Curb Records and two more albums. His fifth and latest CD is Long Walk Back, which features songs in a wide variety of styles, including rockabilly, do-wop, and even a gentle ballad. In addition to his solo projects, he appears on the latest albums from Hank Thompson, Ray Price, and Ralph Stanley. He spends much of his time on the road, playing everywhere from the Grand Ole Opry to rock showcases on the West Coast, as well as unplanned gigs in honky tonks in Austin. Recognized for his award-winning music videos, Brown has been featured in commercials for Lipton Iced Tea and The Gap, and made his acting debut in the motion picture Still Breathing, starring Celeste Holm and Brendan Fraser. Performing with Brown this evening are: Tanya Brown (rhythm guitar); Steve Layne (bass); and Peter Amaral (drums).

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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