[photos by Jill Harrison]
To kick off Tompkins Square’s tenth anniversary celebration at Rough Trade NYC, we were treated to a very special performance by Bob Brown, performing for the first time in 33 years. A longtime friend of Richie Havens, who produced Brown’s first LP, The Wall I Built Myself, Brown is what you might call a cult folk singer of astonishing quality. The “cult” part has more to do with that old bugbear, record labels, than the quality of his work. Brown has shared the stage with a number of noted musicians, including Tim Harden, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Eric Anderson, and Havens. Though identified primarily with the D.C. scene, Brown recorded his debut here in New York, crashing at the time at the Chelsea Hotel. His label, Havens’ Stormy Forest, got lost in the shuffle of big-label mergers, making further releases a challenge. As is so often the case, but not always deservedly so, Brown eventually retired from music, and his albums went out of print.
Doing what these boutique labels do best, Tompkins Square will be reissuing both The Wall I Built Myself and Willoughby’s Lament next year, finally bringing these masterpieces back to life. But for those lucky ones of us who attended this event, we got the even-rarer treat of seeing this music back on stage. Had he not said the moment was 33 years in the making, you wouldn’t have known it, as Brown capably and beautifully rendered five of his songs, spanning several of his key albums. Helping the cause was Ryley Walker’s crack jazz unit (who would return later in the evening with him), and even with only one rehearsal behind them, they captured the spirit of Brown’s work like the pros they are. Brown’s songs are pastoral, delicate affairs, often with a directness that makes them feel like missives to someone from Brown’s past. Even 45 years after it was written, a song like “Winds of Change” resonates even from its opening line, but each of the five songs played was special. You can hear the first three of the ones from these night on the two reissued albums; “Like A Fawn” is still in print, as is “Perfect Song” from Brown’s collaboration with Aleta Greene, Let Me Be Your Love. What a gift Tompkins Square will give us by letting us hear these original recordings again. We can only hope that Brown follows suit and pays us some future visits.
I recorded this set with a soundboard feed from engineer Dustin Meyers together with Schoeps MK4V microphones. The sound quality is outstanding. Enjoy!
Download the complete show: [MP3/FLAC]
Stream the complete show:
Rough Trade NYC
Brooklyn, NY USA
Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack
Soundboard (engineer: Dustin Myers) + Schoeps MK4V (PAS, FOB)>KC5>CMC6>>Edirol R-44>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down, fades, compression, limiter)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, imaging, effects)>Audacity 2.0.3 (track, amplify, downsample, dither)>FLAC ( level 8 )
01 It Takes the World to Make a Feather Fall
02 Winds of Change
03 Quiet Waterfall
04 Like A Fawn
05 Perfect Song