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MUSIC LEGEND GATEMOUTH BROWN COMING TO COLUMBIA THEATRE
HAMMOND -- Louisiana-born, Texas-raised multi-instrumentalist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown will bring his unique blend of rhythm and blues, country, jazz, and Cajun music to the stage of Southeastern Louisiana University's Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, July 3.
The septuagenarian musician's performance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the downtown Hammond theater, which reopened this year after a $5 million renovation.
Tickets for the concert are on sale online through TicketWeb -- www.ticketweb.com -- and will be available at the Columbia box office, 985-543-4371, beginning June 26. The box office is located in the theater's lobby at 220 East Thomas St., and is open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
Ticket prices are $25 for Orchestra 1 and Loge seating; $23 for Orchestra 2 and Balcony 1, and $20 for Balcony 2.
A virtuoso on guitar, violin, harmonica, mandolin, viola, and even drums, Gatemouth Brown has been performing for more than 50 years, and has influenced musicians as diverse as Albert Collins, Frank Zappa, Lonnie Brooks, Eric Clapton, and Joe Louis Walker.
His latest album, "Back to Bogalusa" (Blue Thumb Records), takes his fans back to his beloved Louisiana.
"Gate's last two albums emphasized the big band, Texas swing side of his music," says Brown's manage and co-producer Jim Bateman. "This time we were more song oriented with an emphasis on a Louisiana and Southern feel."
Brown recorded "Back to Bogalusa" at his favorite studio, Bogalusa's Studio in the Country, a classic analog facility where everyone from Louis Prima (The Jungle Book) to Blues Traveler has recorded. Studio in the Country is also the site where he did several albums in the mid-1970s for the French Barclay label, as well as "Blackjack" and "Alright Again!," his 1982 Grammy winner.
Brown was born in Vinton, La., and raised not far from the Gulf Coast in Orange, Texas. He learned guitar and fiddle from his father, who played and sang the tunes of the region, including French traditional songs and German polkas.
"Everybody played music in those days," he said.
He began working professionally as a drummer during World War II. After a stint in the U.S. Army, Brown made his debut as a guitarist in 1947 by simply walking on stage at Don Robey's famed Peacock Club in Houston and picking up an electric guitar that an ailing T-Bone Walker had put down mid-show. He so wowed the audience, playing his own "Gatemouth Boogie," that within a few minutes he had been showered with $600 in tips - a large haul in those cash-strapped days.
Robey soon had Brown fronting a 23-piece orchestra on a tour across the South and Southwest. The manager then formed Peacock Records, the first successful post-war, black-owned record label, to take Brown's sound to a national audience. Dozens of hits soon followed, including "Okie Dokie Stomp," "Boogie Rambler," and "Dirty Work at the Crossroads."
After splitting with Robey, Brown moved to Nashville, where he hosted a television show and began adding country music to his repertoire, even recording with Roy Clark and appearing on the popular television show, Hee Haw. Heavy touring in the 1970s established new audiences in Europe, East Africa, and the Soviet Union, where Brown toured as a musical ambassador for the U.S. State Department.
In recent years, he has cut a string of four-star albums for such record labels as Rounder, Alligator, Verve, and Blue Thumb. Among those who have joined him on the discs are Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder, Amos Garrett, Jim Keltner, Maria Muldaur and Leon Russell. In addition to being a Grammy recipient, Brown has been inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and is an eight-time winner of the W.C. Handy Award. He's also received the prestigious Pioneer Award from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation.
For additional information, call the Columbia/Fanfare office, now located at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts, 220 E. Thomas St., 985-543-4366. Information is also available online at www.selu.edu/columbia.