Little Known Heroes

Greg Brown

Greg Brown’s mother played electric guitar, his grandfather played banjo, and his father was a Holy Roller preacher in the Hacklebarney section of Iowa, where the Gospel and music are a way of life. Brown’s first professional singing job came at age 18 in New York City, running hootenannies (folksinger get-togethers) at the legendary Gerdes Folk City. After a year, Brown moved west to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where he was a ghostwriter for Buck Ram, founder of the Platters. Tired of the fast-paced life, Brown traveled with a band for a few years, and even quit playing for a while before he moved back to Iowa and began writing songs and playing in midwestern clubs and coffeehouses.

Brown’s songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Shawn Colvin, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. He has also recorded more than a dozen albums, including his 1986 release, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, when he put aside his own songwriting to set poems of William Blake to music. One Big Town, recorded in 1989, earned Brown three and a half stars in Rolling Stone, chart-topping status in AAA and The Gavin Report’s Americana rankings and Brown’s first Indie Award from NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors). The Poet Game, his 1994 CD, received another Indie award from NAIRD. His critically acclaimed 1996 release, Further In, was a finalist for the same award. Rolling Stone’s four-star review of Further In called Brown “a wickedly sharp observer of the human condition.” 1997’s Slant 6 Mind (Red House Records) earned Brown his second Grammy nomination. His latest CD, One Night (Red House), is a re-release of a 1983 live performance originally on Minneapolis’ Coffeehouse Extemporé Records. (Bio from gregbrown.org)

Tonio K

Tonio K. (a.k.a. Steven M. Krikorian, b. July 4, 1950) is an American singer/songwriter who has released eight critically acclaimed albums and has had original songs recorded by many of Pop, Rock, Country and R&B’s leading artists ranging from Al Green, Aaron Neville and Burt Bacharach to Bonnie Raitt, Wynonna Judd and Vanessa Williams. His song, “16 Tons Of Monkeys,” co-written with guitarist Steve Schiff, was the featured tune in the 1992 Academy Award winning Live Action Short Film, Session Man. His work with Bacharach and Hip-Hop impresario Dr. Dre won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Recording in 2005.

Jesse Winchester

in memoriam

Jesse Winchester, the esteemed singer-songwriter who became a symbol of the anti-war movement when he moved to Canada to escape the draft in the Sixties, died April 11th from bladder cancer. Winchester, who was living in Virginia when he died, was 69.

While never as well known as peers like James Taylor and Jackson Browne, Winchester wrote some of the defining singer-songwriter tracks of the seventies — evocations of American and Southern life like “Yankee Lady,” “Biloxi,” “Mississippi You’re on My Mind” and “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz” that ached with feelings of loss for the country he decided he had to leave. The songs gained him a cult following and critical respect, and were covered by everyone from George Strait to Tim Hardin. Winchester was considered such a formidable songwriter that a 2012 tribute album, Quiet About It, featured versions of his songs by Taylor, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Buffett, Rosanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, and Vince Gill, among others. 

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1944, Winchester started playing music in Memphis, where his family later relocated. In 1967, he received a draft induction letter, but instead of showing up, he took a plane to Montreal. “I was so offended by someone’s coming up to me and presuming to tell me who I should kill and what my life was worth,” he told Rolling Stone in 1977. He arrived in Canada with only $300 and no connections, but settled into a new life, joining a local band and finally writing his own material. (Rolling Stone)

RIP Jesse

Alejandro Escovedo

Simply one of the finest singer-songwriters of his generation, Alejandro Escovedo’s critical cachet has always outstripped his name recognition and commercial impact.” — Slant

Honeydogs

Brothers Noah and Adam Levy were already veterans of the Minneapolis rock scene when they formed The Honeydogs in 1994. Elder brother Adam spun his favorite country, soul and rock influences into a vintage sounding batch of songs on the band’s eponymous 1995 debut, which featured bassist Trent Norton. Noah took time off to record and tour with Golden Smog featuring members of The Jayhawks, Wilco, Their second outing, featuring added guitarist Tommy Borscheid, Everything I Bet You (1996) further honed the band’s merging of country and rock, sounding like a Flying Burrito Brothers/Beatles/Clash hybrid. The band toured extensively and secured a major label deal with Mercury Records–leading to their first commercial release, Seen A Ghost (1997 )

NRBQ

NRBQ is an American rock band founded by Terry Adams (piano), Steve Ferguson (guitar) and Joey Spampinato (bass).[1][2] The group formed in the mid- 1960’s. Through various incarnations, all of them relevant, they remain a force nearly 55 years later.

Little Known Heroes

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