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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's My Own Fault - ANDREW BROWN

Harvey, Illinois is a quiet Chicago suburb, with modest homes and tree-lined streets. It’s a far cry from the battered urban landscape of the South and West Side ghettos, and it seems an unlikely place for the raw sound of the blues to be popular. But Andrew Brown rocked roadhouses, clubs and V.F.W. halls around Harvey and Chicago’s other southern suburbs from the late 1950s until his death in 1985. His big, robust voice and fluid guitar lines reflected the styles of the blues and soul men who were popular when he was first playing around the city—the Kings, Bobby Bland, Little Milton and Tyrone Davis. But Andrew absorbed, not copied, their styles. With his son Spurling on bass and Otis Webster on second guitar, Andrew belted out the blues with the best of them.
During the ‘70s, Andrew paid more than his share of dues. First, he suffered a heart attack. Later, he permanently injured his back working as a lifter at the mill, and lay in traction for months. It took years to reach a financial settlement, while the mill had to hire two men to replace him! As a result of his inability to work at heavy labor, Andrew returned to his music with more determination. He gigged in East Chicago, Indiana, in Markham, Illinois, and at South Side jazz clubs like El Panama and All That Jazz. “Big Brown” (as he was known) made his North Side debut at a benefit concert at The Wise Fools Pub. Here, fans were amazed to discover a major blues talent who had been living in obscurity only thirty miles to the south.

Andrew recorded his first album tracks for Alligator’s Living Chicago Blues series in 1979. The exposure won him a following in Europe, and he went on to record two albums for European labels, Big Brown’s Chicago Blues on Black Magic Records and On The Case on Double Trouble Records, both produced by long-time friend and fan Dick Shurman. Andrew died of cancer in 1985, just as he was beginning to receive recognition as a major blues artist.

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