Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Road Trip Music : Iowa

To understand the heartland state of Iowa, you almost have to listen to the music of Greg Brown. His dad was a preacher, and his mother was an English teacher who played electric guitar. They lived in the Hackleblarney region of southeastern Iowa when Greg was born, and crisscrossed the state, and the midwest, as he was growing up. Brown followed his musical muse through stints in New York City, Portland, Los Angeles and :as Vegas, but after a few years of that decided to return to Iowa. More than twenty years on, he’s still based there.

Brown has recorded more than two dozen albums, helped found Red House Records in Minnesota, seen a tribute album of his songs recorded -- which, to honor a friend, he asked be a benefit for breast cancer research -- and received critical recognition from The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and many other places. His music includes rock, folk, a hint of jazz now and then, gospel, and a lot of songwriting.

A good place to meet Brown’s gritty baritone and wide range of songs and melodies is Dream City - Essential Recordings Vol 2, 1997-2006. He opens with the title track, which rocks hard while maintaining an air of mystery. There are edgy electric songs including Living in a Prayer and Kokomo, bittersweet ballads including Rexroth’s Daughter, and a couple of traditional folk songs, too, including the gospel track Samson. It is a fine collection with which to make or renew the acquaintance of this heartland songwriter.

you may also wish to see
Music Road: Road Trip Music: Indiana
Music Road: Road Trip Music in Florida
Music Road: music and landscape: bluegrass, Ireland, New England

This is part of The Great American Road Trip, in which I originally partnered up with A Traveler’s Library to add musical ideas to the book and film suggestions for journeys through the regions of the United States which you’d find there. The Library is closed now, but I think you will find the journeys through music interesting still.
For more about the road trip (and a look at some great road songs) see Great American Road Trip: Music begins

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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