Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Gate's Express

Sunday, August 25; Broadway Oyster Bar

Aug 21, 2002 at 4:00 am
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown may not enjoy the kind of blind hero worship rock fans have been laying on stars such as B.B. King, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker for the last few decades, but that's more a reflection of marketing than meat. In truth, Brown's contributions to blues -- and other American music forms -- are every bit as towering as those of King, Guy and Hooker. What's more, he continues to experiment in a way that his peers simply can't match.

Sure, Brown's albums still feature the occasional pointless guest appearance by a big-name rock icon (seriously, Eric, stop this nonsense), but he's most impressive when he's focusing on the music itself. Throughout his 50-plus-year career, Brown has proved equally comfortable playing big-band blues, Texas swing, jazz, Cajun, R&B and country. His most recent albums have seen him veer wildly from one genre to another without sacrificing any of the qualities that have made his music so captivating for more than a half a century: dazzling instrumental prowess on guitar, fiddle and viola; impassioned singing; and a ceaseless good humor.

Brown's band, Gate's Express, usually features a bass player, keyboardist, drummer and sax player -- small enough to take on tour but big enough to accommodate Brown's varied repertoire. The Broadway Oyster Bar, where dancing and drinking are the rule rather than the exception, should be a perfect venue for the band and its unique style of musical merrymaking. Don't miss this show. It's blues as it used to be and as it ought to be.