Standing the test of time, T. Graham Brown blends Memphis Soul, Classic Country & Gospel on the Bosque Arts Center's Tin Building Theatre stage
CLIFTON – By opening the show with Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” leaning heavily on the saxophone and organ, it immediately established that this was not going to be your regular Country Western music show. And with that, T. Graham Brown brought his special Country Music style to the stage – a melting pot of country, soul and rock ’n’ roll with a splash of gospel to round it off on Saturday, Sept. 18 in the Bosque Art Center's Tin Building Theatre.
The 50-year veteran in the music industry and his five-piece band played about 15 songs – each one a gem. And they played all of his hits “I Tell It Like It Used To Be,” “Hell And High Water,” “I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again,” and “Don’t Go To Strangers.”
All of the songs have stood the test of time and were needless to say huge crowd favorites. And like all good songs, they stick, and come drifting back on unexpected moments.
Most songs were about lost chances, love lost and the ache of missing someone –Brown’s voice perfectly suited for the melancholy and the heartache.
Truly a singer’s singer, Brown’s unique voice hasn’t lost anything over the years. If anything, it has gotten warmer with more dimension and depth. But how to describe his amazing pipes? Smooth as Tennessee whisky, sweet as a Georgia peach, warm as the Texas spring sun on a Gulf Shore beach for some of that signature bluesy gravel thrown in.
A more bluesy soul song “Memphis women, fried chicken” – as the title alludes to – was an exception to the general lost love song theme. It was all about the gustatory pleasures of southern cooking and being hungry for some loving by the town’s great cooks.
Between songs, Brown would share family memories, talk about the band members, reminisce about old television shows, share silly stories, tell jokes – saying “this is just fascinating stuff.” And it was so recognizable for the audience, much the same age or older than the 67-yer-old singer. Drummer Dave Dunsey and lead guitarist James Pennybaker could relate. Not so much for the three young dudes in the band – saxophone player Tim Coleman, keyboards player Jacob Tipton and bass player Craig Carter, but they’ve probably heard the stories before.
Another exception to the melancholy theme, following the story about how the goofy video was made – Brown’s own words – was “Brilliant Conversationalist.” It’s all about how her walking did the talking, had him hanging on every word. Her nylons were whispering an invitation and her high heels provided all the punctuation. She was a brilliant conversationalist – fantastic stuff. The 1987 song, by the way, was Brown’s first record with Capitol Records, and it still is fun.
“Moonshadow Road” painted the picture of young love on sweet summer nights. Just a boy and girl on a dirt road growing up in the light of the radio in dad’s Catalina. Sweet memories. Times without a care in the world. Other big crowd favorites were “Darlene” and Merle Haggard’s classic Country Western “Big City.”
Winding the show down, Brown and the band paid tribute to their faith, with Coleman harmonizing with Brown in the spiritual and moving “Sweet Beulah Land.” This segued into Brown’s testimonial about his battles with alcohol and drug addiction, which led to his 1998 equally spiritual “Wine Into Water,” which introduced his music to Christian audiences. This iconic song has been recorded by over a hundred artists, including Loretta Lynn, and is included on Brown’s Gospel-inspired, Grammy nominated “Forever Changed” album. It proved to be a powerful, purposeful ending to the wonderful evening of music.
Having enjoyed an exceptional show, fans milled into the BAC foyer to meet Brown – who gladly posed for photos with his fans and their families. Singer/songwriter Ashley Barron and Nashville guitarist Mitch Predella opened for Brown, and were also in the foyer promoting their upcoming record release. She embraces the independent and powerful countrywoman aura in her writing and music.
Influenced by the country greats such as Johnny Cash and other modern stars like Miranda Lambert, Barron incorporates her life experiences and stories into her writing, creating passionate, home-grown, and relatable music. A versatile guitarist playing anything from country to R&B, rock to jazz, Pedrella is also songwriter, arranger and manager.
The concert is part of the Bosque Arts Center's very successful Troubadour Concert Series that brings many country music veterans to the Tin Building Theater stage – delivering their beloved hits and love for music to Bosque County.
In October and November, Brown and his band are touring North Carolina, Missouri, Alabama, Illinois, Tennessee, Minnesota, Mississippi, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Indiana. If you missed him this time around, or you loved the show so much you wish to see him again – the Hillbilly Iced Tea and Lemonade tour bus circles back to Texas for a show at the 2920 Roadhouse in Hockley, just north of Houston. Visit T. Graham Brown's website at: https://tgrahambrown.com/, or find him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TGRAHAMBROWN1.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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