On Saturday, October 4, 2014, country singer Marty Brown returned to Middletown, New York to play before a packed house at Brian’s Backyard BBQ and Blues. This time, Brown brought together an excellent backing band, mixing covers and a number of his great original songs, including songs from his latest CD like “Whatever Makes You Smile.”
Brown, in the midst of a career renaissance after his appearance on America’s Got Talent, performs like a man who knows how fortunate he is to have a second chance at his career. His playing and singing reflect a rare joy that is catching. He happily engages with his audience and tells stories to introduce some of his songs. Several times he asked the audience for input on what they wanted to hear. His genuine appreciation for his fans is not limited to the stage. When he is not on stage, he hangs out with the audience members, moving around and talking to folks, taking pictures, and signing autographs.
I especially enjoyed when Brown dug into his back catalog, as when he played “High and Dry,” the first track on his debut album form 1991 of the same name. Although his voice has grown deeper in the ensuing decades sine he released the song as a young man, Saturday’s performance infected the song with the hard-won blues of an older man who has seen more of life. I liked the new version just as much as when I first heard the song back in the 1990s.
At the Brian’s Backyard BBQ performance, the members of Brown’s outstanding backing band included drummer Vito Luizzi (a member of the late Johnny Winter’s band), guitar player Rob Daniels (who also performs on his own as a singer-songwriter), and professional bassist Chuck Torres. The band sounded great on both the cover songs and on Brown’s originals.
Brian’s Backyard BBQ and Blues is a fun venue with excellent food, great service, comfortable atmosphere, and surprisingly exceptional acoustics. Opening performers during the “Country Fest” evening included Shannon Scott, Alyssa Startup, Matt Johnson, and Rob Daniels, all who did a great job entertaining the crowd. Another opening act was the Jason Casterlin Band, which got the audience going with a fun set of country songs. The Hudson Valley group played a combination of originals and covers like “Wagon Wheel.” Casterlin has an excellent voice, so country music fans should check him out if he plays in your area.
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