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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Junior Brown proves to be no exception to his rules

The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, Cal., Feb. 19, 2004

By Dan MacIntosh

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA - What do you get when you mix together Ernest Tubb, Bob Wills, Dick Dale and Jimi Hendrix? Well, we'll probably never know the answer to such a hypothetical question for sure. But if medical science ever achieves the creation of this outlandish monster, the results will come out something like Junior Brown. Brown , who regularly incorporates snippets from each of these iconic artists when performing and never ceases to amaze one and all.

Brown's skills-for-thrills were amply displayed once again tonight.

Brown was hit by nagging sound problems from the moment he took the stage. The audio from his vocal microphone kept cutting in and out. And not surprisingly, this quite vocal audience didn't need any microphones to roar out its obvious disapproval of such auditory shortcomings. As the soundman replaced his defective microphone, however, Brown simply played an instrumental until the job was complete. He then said he could have just as easily played instrumentals all night. But while he didn't, in fact, stick to a music-only set set list, he nevertheless relied more upon his flying fingers, than his lower-than-low vocal range for this show.

For instance, he turned "I Hung It Up" into an extended instrumental workout, and nearly treated his vocal for it as an afterthought. But Brown refocused his vocal concentration for "Long Walk Back to San Antone" and also led the audience/choir with his index finger during the chorus of "My Wife Thinks You're Dead." When he's reaching those low notes, Brown delightfully brings Ernest Tubb to mind, and when the music is particularly swinging, his trio sounds like the miniature of one of Bob Wills' big bands.

After playing his usual crowd-pleasing surf-rock medley, this Dick-Dale-In-A-Cowboy-Hat traded in his Stetson for a colorful scarf, so to speak, and played a blistering version of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady." It was one of those moments where you couldn't help but close your eyes and get lost in it all. It was just that good.

Come to think of it, Junior Brown's shows are always packed with close-your-eyes-and-just-dig-it moments, and tonight was no exception to that rule.