Marty Brown in Middletown, NY (Concert Review)

As a long-time fan of country singer-songwriter Marty Brown, I was happy to finally see him sing live with a relaxed intimate performance at Brian’s Backyard BBQ & Blues in Middletown, New York on Saturday, July 5. And I was not disappointed.

Brown performed his main set solo with an acoustic Gibson guitar, and he also sang several songs with the opening act, country rock band Blanco Diablo. The different accompaniments allowed the singer to show his versatility and his voice that still hits the same broad range from his younger days. One minute with the band he had the crowd clapping along on Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” Then, a little while later, one could hear a pin drop when he gave a moving solo acoustic rendition of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Blues Man.”

Brown, who released several albums in the 1990s and had a career resurgence after several appearances last year on America’s Got Talent, gives a show that any fan of classic country music should check out. He covered songs like Willie Nelson’s “Whiskey River” and George Jones’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” He performed Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home,” where in the closing verse he tacked on the similarly themed “Green, Green Grass of Home.” His wife Shellie Brown joined the singer on stage for a few songs, including an excellent version of the Cash-Carter staple “Jackson.” Brown also put his own stamp on a few non-country songs, getting the crowd to join in on Don McLean’s “American Pie.” And, of course, he sang the song that started his run on America’s Got Talent, “Make You Feel My Love,” explaining in the introduction that he had just recorded the Bob Dylan song for upcoming release.

Because I own every Marty Brown album, my highlights occurred when Brown performed his own songs (or put his stamp on something obscure). Brown is a great songwriter, so I would have liked to have heard even more songs from his own pen as well as other songs from his own albums. The songs he performed near the end of the show, including his composition “Jackpot Lucky,” created the most memorable moments for me. When he sang his recent single “Whatever Makes You Smile,” it reinforced the fact that his own songs stand up favorably even when played next to the classics.

During the show, Brown also kept the audience entertained by telling stories and interacting with the audience. He and his wife mingled with the audience before, after, and between sets, making themselves available to fans for photos, questions, song requests, autographs, etc. Brown reveals a refreshing joy in his music and an appreciation of his fans, both qualities that are genuine, heartfelt, and rare.

Overall, it was a great show and music fans should check out Brown if he comes to your area. His website lists upcoming shows, some of which feature his own band, in New York, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, California, etc. You can find out how to order his latest CD, Country Strong, through his Facebook page. If you are unfamiliar with his music, check out this acoustic performance of “The Day the Bootlegger Died,” which appeared on his album, Here’s to the Honky Tonks (1996).

The venue, Brian’s Backyard BBQ & Blues, provided an intimate setting for the performance, as well as some excellent barbeque. If you live anywhere near New York City, it is only a little more than an hour outside the city and worth checking out for its live music and food.

Photo of Marty Brown performing in Middletown, NY by Chimesfreedom. Leave your two cents in the comments.

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