Some artists experiment with genres beyond their own familiar musical turf, but no one does it with more abandon than Junior Brown.
Loaded with tales of heartache, hotrods and honky-tonk (and all the baggage that comes with them), Down Home Chrome showcases Browns combination of clever Southwestern songcraft and staggering musicianshipthe latter courtesy of Big Red, his double-necked, 12-string guit-steel (a combination of electric and steel guitar). Listen closely and hear the echoes the voices of various past mastersBuck Owens, Chet Atkins, Dick Dale and countless others who've pushed the country/western/rockabilly envelope to its high-octane limit.
A singer and demon guitarist whose raucous blend of country and rock & roll helped make him a successful crossover act, Junior Brown was born in 1953 and raised in the backwoods of Kirksville, IN. After moving to Austin, TX, Brown and his group became the house band at the city's Continental Club, where strong word-of-mouth eventually earned them a record deal. He made his long-awaited album debut in 1993 with 12 Shades of Brown, which featured a tribute to his biggest influence, "My Baby Don't Dance to Nothing but Ernest Tubb." Guit With It followed later in the year, and like its predecessor, was met with considerable critical acclaim. After a five-song stopgap EP, 1995's Junior High, Brown returned in 1996 with Semi Crazy. The Long Walk Back followed two years later.
The Jolly Boys are the foremost performers of mento, the ribald, witty first cousin of Jamaican reggae. Like reggae, mento is marked by a shuffling, syncopated guitar strum, an irreverent attitude, and a lazy, swaying danceability. Unlike reggae, mento has no sacramental roots, nor does it strain after profundity. Instead, mento makes a religion of sexual braggadocio, drinking, and good times. The Jolly Boys have been composing and performing mentos for decades; indeed, they used to perform for Errol Flynn when he stayed at his Jamaican villa. Their sound is derived from rhythmic bongo playing, along with solos by the banjo and kalimba (finger piano). Two representative discs are Pop 'n' Mento and Sunshine 'n' Water.
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