’Tis season for Brown concert

By Tom Weber

Luckily for local fans of Greg Brown, the calendar says "April."

"I’m not touring anymore in the summer or winter," Brown said from his own in Kansas City, Mo. "I’m only doing gigs in the spring and fall."

So, the fine spring night of April 21 will find Brown on stage at Mayo Civic Center’s Presentation Hall for a Riverside Live concert.


Brown, now in his mid-50s, and with a new family (he and his wife, singer Iris DeMent, have adopted a daughter from Russia), has cut back on his schedule of live shows. "I’m doing around 50 or 60 a year," he said. "Nothing like I used to do."

Then again, Brown has already achieved a certain level of respect and recognition as a performer and songwriter. It has never brought him riches or fame, but it has staked him to the type of career many artists would love to have.

"It has suited my nature," he said.

Brown’s nature, in turn, is relaxed and laid-back. He breaks some rules, follows others, and remains true to his art and vision.

"I could write 10 songs tomorrow, but they wouldn’t have any life," he said. "It would be craft."

On the other hand, when it comes to writing songs, Brown said, "I don’t even have what you would call a method. I don’t have any tricks."

So where do the songs come from?

"I think it’s just life," Brown said. "I know that’s kind of a big answer. But we really don’t know about ourselves and the world. The place where we wonder about those things is the place the songs come out of.


"And that doesn’t always have to be heavy," he continued. "Life is not always painful. Dance music comes from the same place."

The things Brown wonders about are often found in his songs. The songs and their subjects, in turn, have gained him invitations to participate in an unusual number of benefit concerts and albums.

"It’s always been important to me," Brown said. "These are things I deeply care about. I’m very concerned about rivers and air, and what we’re doing to this place."

And organizations know Brown is a surefire draw. "I feel lucky to be a the place where I can draw a couple of hundred or 1,000 people to something," he said. "An organization can make $10,000 to $20,000 on that."

For every appearance by Brown, however, the best advice for an audience is to expect the unexpected.

"I never know what I’m going to play," he said. "I usually decide right before I walk out on stage."


What: Greg Brown, with Joe Price opening, in a Riverside Live concert.


When: 7:30 p.m. April 21.

Where: Mayo Civic Center Presentation Hall, 30 Civic Center Drive S.E.

Tickets: $20 and $14 for adults, $19 and $13 for senior citizens, $10 and $7 for youth. Available at the civic center box office and through Ticketmaster outlets. For more information: 285-8076.

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