Remember the first time you saw or heard Junior Brown? That distinctive baritone, the one-of-a-kind guit-steel, the mirthful lyrics, the blurry flurry of notes that sounded like a five-piece band coming from one pair of restless hands?
Steve Wertheimer never forgot either. The owner of Austin’s venerable Continental Club kept the unknown Brown playing Sunday nights for five years before the rest of the world took notice and made Brown the star he is today. (Star? Well, he’s Waylon Jennings’ replacement as the narrating “Balladeer” in the recent Dukes Of Hazzard movie.) Wertheimer brought Brown and company back to town this past April to record this live disc before a roomful of fans at the Continental.
With bandmates Pete Amaral on snare and high-hat, Johnny Penner on bass and his wife Tanya Rae on rhythm guitar, Brown settles into his driving beat-and-twang groove from the opening cut, “Broke Down South Of Dallas”, and keeps at it through the closing instrumental “Rock N Roll Medley”, a pyrotechnic tour de force that steals the hearts of new converts every time.
Along the way, such favorites as “Highway Patrol”, “Hillbilly Hula Gal”, “Party Lights” and “My Wife Thinks You’re Dead” — accompanied by the audience on the chorus — are represented in fine form, as is the obligatory duet with Tanya Rae (“I Want To Live And Love Always”). Of course, it’s not the same as seeing him live; and as much as he’s on the road, you don’t have any excuse.