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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Junior Brown proves never less than entertaining

The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, Cal., Oct. 9, 1998

By Dan MacIntosh

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA - How do we love Junior Brown, and can we even count all of the ways? As he demonstrated, Brown can do many things well whether as an instrumentalist, songwriter or singer.

Until about midway through this concert, it seemed as if Brown's six-string prowess was his primary focus. His flawless fret work on both the guit and the steel of his homemade guitar must certainly have had the guitar-heads in the room scratching their noggins in amazement.

In fact, he even earned a spontaneous standing ovation from the middle section of the audience after some extremely tricky solo moves during "Free Born Man."

But by the time Brown got around to "Hung it Up" from "Semi Crazy," though, this man's silly lyrics and Earnest Tubb-styled vocals came to the fore. Only a certifiably crazy and helplessly witty gent like Brown could ever get away with such a joyfully playful song as "Venom Wearin' Denim" and not sound like just another product from Nashville's cliché mill.

Backed by a drummer, an acoustic guitarist (wife Tanya) and a stand-up bass player, Brown's band concentrated primarily upon just keeping up with the master. Just like Willie Wonka, Brown seemed to have so little time, yet so much to do. But this artistic haste allowed him to cram almost every single highlight from his recording career into a "should of been hits" set list.

Brown said few words during his show, as he appeared to have the concentration of a mad scientist who just happened to have an adoring throng crowding his lab.

Brown may be a musician who embodies multiple personalities, but each of these distinct natures is well worth the time to get to know. He might be a kind of a musical oddity to some, but he's never less than an entertaining case study.