Marty Brown Revisited

By Jean Metcalfe

It all started with Jimmy Raney back in January of 1990. The acclaimed jazz guitarist was the subject of our very first cover story as we kicked off the new year with a new feature. Country singer-songwriter Marty Brown, was the subject of our first cover story of 1992.

Up until that issue, I had personally met each of the subjects that I had written about (a guest writer covered two of the subjects, so they don't count) or, in the case of a group, I had met at least one member of the group.

Although my interview with Larnelle Harris for October '91 had been by telephone (he had just returned to his Louisville home from his tour of Russia the day before), I had talked with him in person on at least two previous occasions.

After talking with Marty Brown on the telephone and seeing photographs of him in magazines and on television, I felt as if I had actually met him. And although he had invited me to his concert with the Pirates of the Mississippi at the Executive Inn Rivermont in Owensboro several days after the interview, and before we went to press, I had been unable to attend.

On January 18, at that same Owensboro venue, I finally caught up with the twenty-six-year old MCA recording artist. This time he was the star of the show.

Lookin' good in a bright red shirt, jeans and his trademark brown hat, Marty bounded onstage and lit into a rousing new original, Locomotion Notion.

He sang many of the songs from his debut album High and Dry, including, of course, the title cut. And he talked with the audience, which was generously sprinkled with friends and family.

Looking into the audience that packed the 1,000-seat facility, Marty spotted a familiar face, and exclaimed, I carried your groceries.

After singing an emotion-packed God Knows, the lanky Kentuckian shed his red shirt to reveal a sweatshirt that proclaimed I (heart) love Maceo, Ky.

He brought his brother Mike onstage to add harmonica to I Always Get Lucky in Kentucky, and later proudly turned the stage and his brown hat over to his father, who nicely covered Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues.

They say I kinda look like him; I don't know, Marty said of Vincent Brown.

Thank you all very much. I'm glad you like my boy, the proud father said before leaving the stage.

The interaction with the audience continued. A little girl whose guitar Marty had signed earlier, offered a red rose and Marty asked, Can you say Maceo?

I listened even more attentively when Marty performed my favorite album cut, Wildest Dreams and, a little later, my second favorite, Every Now And Then. Nice.

Listen to this, Marty said as he slowly strummed the individual strings of his guitar to demonstrate how out of tune the instrument had gotten during the rigorous workout he had given it.

But it's a good buddy of mine so I'm gonna hang with it, he added.

A phone call from an old girl friend had inspired his next song, Marty said.

She wanted to get back with me, he practically spat, and the audience laughed loudly. She treated me like dirt, he shouted. Seems she had been his prom date once upon a time, and they had dined at the very hotel where he held forth this evening.

She ordered crab legs at $24.95 . . . I ordered a pork chop . . . I think mine was about $9.95.

He continued, She called me up. It's a good thing she did. I came up with this song. It's called 'Honey I Ain't No Fool.'

How sweet it must have been. Wonder if she was in the audience to hear these lines:

This old heart still cares

But my mind remembers all you

put me through

So I'll just hang up the phone

Honey leave me alone

Don't call me, I'll call you

Baby, I may still be just a little crazy

But honey, I ain't no fool.

He tagged the song with this line:

And I can't believe you'd call me after all these years.

Marty closed with I'd Climb Any Mountain, the cut from his High and Dry album that he said would be his next single, and which he had earlier told me was his favorite song on the album.

For his encore he performed the autobiographical I Have a Dream. He said he was sending it out to all the kids to let them know they can be anything they want to be.

After a frisky performance of I Can't Get Enough of Your Love, young Marty Brown, of Maceo, Ky. (he still lives there) said, I love you, then jumped up to the drummer's platform, stole one of his sticks and flailed away at whatever instruments he could reach. Leaping back down to the stage, Marty doffed his well-broken-in hat and was gone.

A short while later, after I had been hugged by, and photographed with, Marty's bass player, Jon Rochner (he said he liked the January feature article I had written about Marty and that he wasn't offended at my description of him as Buddha-like), I found myself face to face with Marty Brown. He was just as I had imagined he would be _- friendly polite, easy to know .ÿ.ÿ. and huggable.

As I headed for the exit, I was amazed to see the large numbers of fans still lined up, slowly making their way out of the room as many others waited to be seated for the second show. As I arrived at the table of Marty Brown merchandise, the salesman said, You got any more papers?

The stacks of free copies of Louisville Music News with Marty Brown on the cover had been snapped up, he told us, and we agreed to fetch more from the car.

Y'all could've made a lot of money, he said.

Back in Louisville, I fished in my purse for the note that bass player Jon Rochner had penned for me, and read for the first time these words:

Jean: From the Buddha-like Bass Player __ Thanks, Jon!

My pleasure.