January 12, 2013 by Jay Minkin
You don’t have to travel to New York, Chicago, Austin, or Nashville to hear top flight entertainment. It’s right here in your backyard of Northeast Ohio. Our home-grown singer/songwriters performing original music have been gaining a loyal following over the past several years with some lauded major national exposure. The quality of their work has been that good. So who is the next local favorite you need to seek out?
Rachel Brown has a voice that will make you think you’re not in Cleveland anymore. By day, the Medina native teaches music and choir at an Elyria middle school. But the dream of performer has never left her since she first played professionally at age 14. This girl can sing the blues, sultry jazz, and traditional country & western music which can all be heard on her new CD Just Look My Way.
The new album is just her second in the last five years. Instead of another solo piano effort, Ms. Brown surrounded herself with musicians she has either played with or admired to create a “dream project”. The stellar line-up starts with her backing band of Bill Watson (bass), Roy King (drums), and Dave Huddelston (guitar) that are the Beatnick Playboys. A who’s who of talent including Denny Jones (fiddle), Al Moss (pedal steel), Paul Kovac (mandolin/banjo), Jack Kidney (harmonica), Jeff Rice (sax), Chris Hanna (organ), and Bob Corlett (accordion) all lend a hand.Brent Kirby and Nate Jones offer some beautiful vocals harmonies, and acoustic guitar.
Brown wrote twelve of the album’s thirteen tracks which were engineered by Paul Hamann at Suma Recording Studio. Some of album’s highlights include “Adam and Helen”, a song dedicated to Rachel’s parents. Growing up listening to old-tyme country music like George Jones andMeryl Haggard was a huge influence on Brown’s musical styling. So in that vein, this song paints a simple story about her Mom and Dad meeting, falling in love, and their persevering relationship. Brown loves singing duets, so she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recorded “Just Look My Way” with Kirby and “When I’m With You” with Jones. Brown’s rich voice fills the room with the lovely torch song “Just Words” and has your toe tapping along with “You’re Not A Dream”. But what is really amazing is that every song is a winner on Rachel Brown’s album. She is Cleveland’s next shining star and worthy of some national exposure. It’s thatgood.
Rachel Brown will be performing a special show on the Yamaha grand piano at Cleveland’s premier jazz club Nighttown with The Beatnik Playboys and Brent Kirby on January 26th at 8:30 PM. The official CD Release Party will take place in the intimate Beachland Tavern on Friday, February 22nd with many of the above mentioned players taking part in the festivities. To keep up with Rachel Brown’s busy performance schedule around town and hear a sampling of her music, check out www.rachelandthebeatnikplayboys.com.