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Houston’s Shakespeare Pub   Leave a comment

Texas Johnny Brown at Houston’s Shakespeare Pub — Photo-Artistry by kenne 
(Click on Texas Johnny Brown to see archived blog posting on TJB)

Texas Johnny Brown is a major talent who simmered on the blues scene longer than all the beef stew cooked in the ’40s, the decade when he first began playing and recording. Like pianist Johnny Johnson of St. Louis, Brown is an artist who did not get a chance to record a full album as a leader until he had been in the music business more than half-a-century. Also like Johnson, the results of coming in so late in the game have been a pair of highly acclaimed, prize-winning albums including the righteous Blues Defender. Brown can take plenty of the credit, since he has taken over almost complete control of his ow arranging, production, and mixing, as well as the string bending and blues moaning. He began his career as a sideman for the Duke and Peacock outfits in the ’50s about which discographers make comments such as “… the record keeping at that time was less than desirable.” As a result, some of Brown’s playing on releases by artists such as Lightnin’ Hopkins and Joe Hinton remains uncredited. The guitarist, singer, and songwriter began his professional career as an original member of the great Amos Milburn band known as the Aladdin Chickenshackers. Brown’s picking is killer on early Aladdin recordings by both Milburn, and on Ruth Brown’s first Atlantic sides. Atlantic allowed Brown to make a few recordings of his own in 1949, buoyed by the enthusiasm the label had for Milburn, who played behind his sideman on these sessions along with the rest of the Aladdin Chickenshackers. T-Bone Walker is the dominating force in Brown’s stylistic palette, an influence that was considered something of a driving permit for any guitarist venturing out of Houston during this period. Before finally getting the biggie recording opportunities in the late ’90s, Brown did an ARC session in Houston in the early ’50s that was never released. He also performed regularly with Junior Parker during that decade, remaining based out of Houston. As a songwriter, Brown’s most famous work is “Two Steps from the Blues,” a big hit for Bobby “Blue” Bland, with whom he also toured as a lead guitarist in the ’50s and ’60s. By the ’80s, he was considered only sporadically active on the blues scene, but this turned out to be only a temporary brown-out, so to speak.

— Eugene Chadbourne Source: allmusic.com

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