Saturday, March 31
It’s always good to see a Hoosier boy doing good, and few Hoosiers can match the kind of career that Junior Brown has pieced together since his grasshopper days in Kirksville, Ind., a small bump in the road just southwest of Bloomington. He has single-handedly put together a fusion of straight-up, old-timer country, rock and blues that hardly anyone else is trying these days. Sure, you’ve got Wayne “the Train” Hancock and maybe the Mavericks, but Brown is just about the finest purveyor of this unique genre.
On Saturday, Brown and his scaled-back trio showed the Music Mill just how fun and powerful seemingly simple country laments can be. Tearing it up on his handmade “guit-steel,” a Frankenstein creation made from a Fender guitar and lap steel, Brown filled the room with sparkling dance tunes and dusty love songs. He turned it out with oftentimes hair-raising guitar work. Nowhere was this more evident than in the encore, which saw Brown rip through a trio of instrumentals that touched upon everything from solid Hawaiian lap steel sounds to Hendrix-inspired blues blasts to stratospheric David Gilmore-ish guitar dreamscapes.
It was a pleasure to see Brown again in a venue that was perfect for him and his crowd, especially seeing him giving his fans a dandy grab bag of everything that is good in American music.