Sign up for newsletter
From the Country Standard Time Archives

Brown/Moorer are in top form

Johnny D's, Somerville, Mass., Nov. 21, 1998

By Jeffrey B. Remz

SOMERVILLE, MA - Junior Brown isn't your typical country musician. After all, the deep voiced man with the big white hat doesn't get much radio airplay - he's far too different for what's considered "acceptable" these days.

But he isn't living in a cocoon either given his presence in Gap television ads and appearances on "The X-Files."

A few more concerts, however, like he gave Saturday night at a mobbed Johnny D's, and the public ought to be pounding down the doors of radio stations to give Brown his due.

Brown, touring behind his fine new CD, "Long Walk Back," was the best he has ever been in the Boston area, belting a home run in playing, singing and song selection.

Brown's trademark is his guit-steel instrument contraption. The instrument, which Brown said came to him in a dream years ago, is a combination of guitar and steel guitar. The guit-steel gives Brown the chance to switch between the different sounds within the same song.

And what a fine musician Brown is. He is very exact in his playing, often ripping off staccato like notes, letting his fingers do the talking. Yes, there's a lot of flash in his playing, but he infuses the songs with an incredible amount of energy.

Brown is not a big talker during his shows. The music speaks quite well for itself, thank you.

While steeped in country, Brown also throws in blues ("Stupid Blues"), surf music, Sixties music ("Secret Agent Man"), Elvis (the wonderful "Rock-A-Hula Baby" from the new disc) and rock into the potpourri. And he is adept at all.

Brown also keeps things lively from a lyrical standpoint. He is a keen songwriter with a bent for humorous songs (ranging from "Venom Wearin' Denim" where he incorporates loads of snake references to "Highway Patrol," an ode to the folks in blue). He also tackles the woes of love.

His deeper than deep voice possesses range and emotion.

A special treat was the presence of drummer Buddy Miles, who once upon a time played with Jimi Hendrix. Playing a single drum, Miles kept a steady, understated pace, while also belting out a soulful song with aplomb.

Brown's idiosyncratic style speaks well for himself, even if he isn't the kind of musician getting the airplay. Heck, most of the best aren't these days.

Also turning in a fine performance was opener Allison Moorer. The lively redhead achieved notoriety for singing and appearing in Robert Redford's "The Horse Whisperer."

Moorer's strong suit is her stunning voice. She is quite powerful in putting across the songs, many of which she wrote. Moorer also had a comfortable stage presence. In a fair musical world, she'd be a definite comer.