Alison Brown and ‘Leaving Cottondale’
When folks hear the name Alison many of them tend to think of Alison Krauss, but there is another music Alison you need to know about. Her name is Alison Brown. Ms. Krauss knows her well, as they have toured together in the past.
Alison Brown has a cool resume. She did her undergraduate work at Harvard, and then earned an MBA at UCLA. After that she was a Wall Street investment banker. I guess maybe that became too tame a life for her, so she went out on tour with Alison Krauss. She was the first female IBMA banjo player of the year. She won a Grammy in 2001 for ‘Leaving Cottondale.’ For the folks who say bluegrass crowd isn’t sophisticated, I only ask they re-read this post and then send their rebuttal in the comments.
Nowadays she and her husband Gary West own Compass Records in Nashville, Tennessee. They produced Dale Ann Bradley’s IBMA award-winning CD, one of my personal favorites in the year 2009. The lady can pick bluegrass banjo as well as any man alive but is equally at home with jazz, swing, or pop tunes. Her husband is a fine bass player and businessman. These people know music.
Alison Brown will be at the Don Gibson theatre in Shelby N.C., January 9th, 2010. My favorite artists are always the ones who believe in their work and in what they hope to say. They don’t look for corporate to create an image for them. Ms. Brown is that kind of performer. Her show will appeal to a broad demographic spectrum. It will be attended by everyone from the local hot pickers to young mothers who want to see a lady colleague who can do it all, to old docs who appreciate and love fine acoustic music.
I have become enthralled with this Gibson theater. It’s a cozy 400 seat venue with great acoustics and is small enough to take in the show in detail without one of those widescreen monitors. It’s just the kind of hang-out for a cat who has spent his life marching to a different drummer, even though we don’t have one in bluegrass. (Alison might; I am not sure, and if she does it is okay by me.) If promoters take a chance on people who refuse to settle for cookie cutter art I plan to support them.
At times patients and readers have asked how I’ve maintained my enthusiasm for my work after so many years in the trenches. The answer ain’t blowing in the wind, but can be found in the artistry of folks like Alison Brown or Darin and Brooke Aldridge who will follow her at the Gibson on Jan 22.
If y’all want to know what makes Doc tick, take in these shows. It would be a good start to understand an old doctor who is so simple he’s complicated, or a complex young woman like Alison Brown who creates art of simple beauty. I do not know her well, but my guess is in spite the differences in our ages and day jobs we have much in common. Like me, I think Alison Brown is driven by motives that involve more important concepts than simple commercialism.
I know this. If anyone shows up within driving distance of Harvey County and they aim to make my life better via their creative efforts, I’m gonna get in the car and go. I am called to do my day job, and I persevere. However, the doc gig involves a lot of pain and suffering for folks, and you often find yourself tangled up in impossible circumstances. Through art, I believe we can see a few glimpses of dignity as we trudge along, and I intend to take in all I can.
Y’all go see Alison Brown. You won’t regret it.
Check out her link: www.alisonbrown.net