Rich Brown

Rich Brown
Beach Blues

Self-released (available on iTunes)

By Karen Nugent
March 2010

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Rich Brown is a local boy with a bluesy guitar and a guttural voice to match.

His 2009 six-track disc, Beach Blues, provides a nice sampling of his slide work. Brown is joined on the record by Woody Giessmann of Boston’s beloved Del Fuegos, and producer Hendrick Gideonse of Boston-based Indecent Music.

Besides Giessman and Gideonse, Brown has shared the stage with Bruce Marshall, of the Bruce Marshall Group, Jon Cohan (of the Woody Geissmann Band, formerly with the Tarbox Ramblers), Paul Size (who has played with Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, Racky Thomas, and Darrel Nulish,) and, in the early 1990s with the fabulous Shirley Lewis.

Recently, he has been studying Piedmont, Delta, and country blues with Paul Rishell.

The CD starts out strongly with “No Shame,” a cool blues shuffle. Brown sort of half-sings and half-speaks the lyrics, which talk about living on the cheap—with some mentions of unpaid child support, halfway houses and arrest warrants. It’s pretty low down: “Will I get one more second chance? / I’m slipping fast.”

“Devil on Your Shoulder” is a sad, folksy ballad about, well, you know, Satan and temptation. There are all kinds of tragic images: a stockyard, a train ride with a third rail, cocaine and acrid smoke. It’s all followed by a call to surrender. Is this a 12-step anthem? I’m not sure, but the guitar work is impressive. In fact, Brown e-mailed that he has been sober for 24 years, and has gone from country to rock to southern rock, before embracing blues, his true love.

The last tune, “Cholesterol Blues,” with its driving backbeat, is amusing, although a bit of a downer. With Brown sounding an awful lot like Johnny Cash, he is ordered by his doctor to give up donuts, steak fries, chili, ice cream, meat—anything other than creatures that swim in water. Brown, who lives in Westboro, responds with how he’s become a veggie junkie, although there’s a refrain of: “I changed my main menu ‘cause I don’t want to die / But once in a while I like steak finished with pie.”

The disc, although more ballad and folk than blues, makes a nice showcase of Brown’s colorful lyrics, growly voice, and pensive guitar.

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