the River of Song project and more...

List Artists by Genre
List Artists Alphabetically
Previous Artist
Next Artist
Video Clips Smithsonian Institution
Americans Old and NewAmericans Old and NewMidwestern CrossroadsSouthern FusionLouisiana, Where Music is King
Greg Brown

Greg Brown is the preeminent singer/songwriter on the contemporary midwestern folk scene, and became a national figure in the 1980s as house songwriter for Prairie Home Companion. Brown's music is a surprising fusion of midwestern roots and a searching, quirky imagination that took him east to New York's Greenwich Village in 1969, west on the Beatnik-hippie trail, and on to Las Vegas, where he had a job ghost-writing pop songs. All the sounds he heard along the way combined with the church music and country fiddling he had heard growing up in southern Iowa, and the result is a hip, funkily rhythmic blend that somehow retains its rural innocence.
       After his stint on Prairie Home Companion, Brown returned to Iowa City, and he has become the center of a small but vibrant music scene. In recent years, he has teamed up with a local blues-rocker, Bo Ramsey, who has added a new, raw edge to the music. River of Song found the two in Brown's living room, jamming and revisiting old times in southern Iowa. The walls were lined with bookshelves, a testament to Brown's literary bent, but the music was anything but self-consciously intellectual. Brown's songs are startling in their directness, acuity and wry humor. Whether remembering the feeling of walking down to the country store on a summer evening or exploring the dark underbelly of urban America, he creates a world populated with living, breathing characters, and frames their stories with rootsy guitar riffs and a gruff, jazz-inflected baritone. Raw and tender, unashamedly country and off-handedly cool, Brown is a mass of contradictions that somehow blend into something completely natural and heartfelt.

Related Links

       Everything under the sun about Greg Brown

Home | The River of Song Project | The Artists | Music Along the River | Calendar | Teacher's Guide | Press Room | The Store
© 1998 The Filmmakers Collaborative and The Smithsonian Institution, all right reserved
River of Song HOME the River of Song project the artists music along the river calendar teacher's guide pressroom store