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Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

Whatever you do, don't refer to multi-instrumentalist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown as a bluesman, although his imprimatur on the development of Texas blues is enormous. You're liable to get him riled. If you must pigeonhole the legend, just call him an eclectic Texas musical master whose interests encompass virtually every roots genre imaginable.

Brown learned the value of versatility while growing up in Orange, TX. His dad was a locally popular musician who specialized in country, Cajun, and bluegrass -- but not blues. Later, Gate was entranced by the big bands of Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, and Duke Ellington (a torrid arrangement of "Take the 'A' Train" remains a centerpiece of Brown's repertoire). Tagged with the "Gatemouth" handle by a high school instructor who accused Brown of having a "voice like a gate," Brown has used it to his advantage throughout his illustrious career. (His guitar-wielding brother, James "Widemouth" Brown, recorded "Boogie Woogie Nighthawk" for Jax in 1951.)

In 1947, Gate's impromptu fill-in for an ailing T-Bone Walker at Houston entrepreneur Don Robey's Bronze Peacock nightclub convinced Robey to assume control of Brown's career. After two singles for Aladdin stiffed, Robey inaugurated his own Peacock label in 1949 to showcase Brown's blistering riffs, which proved influential to a legion of Houston string-benders (Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Cal Green, and many more have pledged allegiance to Brown's riffs). Peacock and its sister label Duke prospered through the '50s and '60s.

Gate stayed with Peacock through 1960. The R&B charts didn't reflect Brown's importance (he hit only once nationwide with 1949's two-sided smash "Mary Is Fine"/"My Time Is Expensive"). But his blazing instrumentals ("Boogie Uproar," "Gate Walks to Board," 1954's seminal "Okie Dokie Stomp"), horn-enriched rockers ("She Walked Right In," "Rock My Blues Away"), and lowdown Lone Star blues ("Dirty Work at the Crossroads") are a major component of the rich Texas postwar blues legacy. Brown broke new ground often -- even in the '50s, he insisted on sawing his fiddle at live performances, although Robey wasn't interested in capturing Gate's violin talent until "Just Before Dawn" (his final Peacock platter in 1959).

The '60s weren't all that kind to Brown. His cover of Little Jimmy Dickens' country novelty "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" for tiny Hermitage Records made a little noise in 1965 (and presaged things to come stylistically). But the decade was chiefly memorable for Brown's 1966 stint as house bandleader for The!!!!Beat, a groundbreaking syndicated R&B television program out of Dallas hosted by WLAC DJ Bill "Hoss" Allen.

When Gate began to rebuild his career in the '70s, he was determined to do things his way. Country, jazz, even calypso now played a prominent role in his concerts; he became as likely to launch into an old-time fiddle hoedown as a swinging guitar blues. He turned up on Hee Haw with pickin' and grinnin' pal Roy Clark after they cut a sizzling 1979 duet album for MCA, Makin' Music. Acclaimed discs for Rounder, Alligator, Verve, and Blue Thumb in the '80s, '90s, and 2000s have proven that Gatemouth Brown is a steadfastly unclassifiable American original. Gatemouth Brown passed away on September 10, 2005 in Orange, TX. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Boogie Rambler - Blues Essentials

1. Okie Dokie Stomp

2. Gatemouth Boogie

3. After Sunset

4. My Time Is Expensive

5. Win With Me, Baby

6. Midnight Hour

7. Didn't Reach My Goal

8. Good Looking Woman

9. Hurry Back, Good News

10. Justice Blues

11. That's Your Daddy Yaddy Yo

12. I've Been Mistreated

x

Track List: Live From Austin, TX

1. Ain't That Dandy

2. Born In Louisiana

3. Honky-Tonk

4. Dark End Of The Hallway

5. Bits And Pieces

6. Leftover Blues

7. There You Are

8. Early In The Mornin'

9. Things Ain't What They Used To Be

10. Up Jumped The Devil

x

Track List: Blackjack

1. Pressure Cooker

2. Tippin' In

3. Here Am I

4. Gate's Tune

5. When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again

6. Street Corner

7. Chickenshift

8. Take Me Back To Tulsa

9. Dark End Of The Hallway

10. Up Jump The Devil

11. Blackjack

12. Honey Boy

x

Track List: Flippin' Out

1. Flippin' Out

2. Next Time You See Me

3. Catfish

4. Strollin' With Bones

5. I Wonder

6. Alligator Boogaloo

7. Please Send Me Someone To Love

8. Baby Take It Easy

9. What A Shame, What A Shame

10. Ain't That Dandy

x

Track List: Timeless

1. Soft Wind

2. For Now So Long (Live)

3. Jumpin' The Blues

4. Tennessee Blues

5. Unchained Melody (Live)

6. Satin Doll

7. The Drifter - Spoken Intro

8. The Drifter (Live)

9. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

10. Dark End Of The Hallway

11. Six Levels Below Plant Life

x

Track List: Back To Bogalusa

1. Folks Back Home

2. It All Comes Back

3. Same Old Blues

4. Going Back To Louisiana

5. Breaux Bridge Rag

6. Why Are People Like That

7. Grape Jelly

8. Bogalusa Boogie Man

9. Louisian'

10. Dixie Chicken

11. Lie No Better

12. Slap It

13. Dangerous Critter

x

Track List: American Music Texas Style

1. Rock My Blues Away

2. Half Steppin'

3. Hootie Blues

4. Front Burner

5. I'm Beginning to See the Light

6. Swamp Ghost

7. Without Me Baby

8. Gate Swings Again

9. Strange Things Happen

10. Don't Get Around Much Anymore

11. Guitar In My Hand

12. Jumpin' The Blues

13. Things Ain't What They Used To Be

x

Track List: Gate Swings

1. Midnight Hour

3. Toughen Up

4. Take The "A" Train

5. Too Late Baby

6. Gate's Blues Waltz

7. Caldonia

8. Bits And Pieces

9. River's Invitation

10. One O'Clock Jump

11. Take Me Back Baby

12. Since I Fell For You

13. Flying Home

x

Track List: Long Way Home

1. Blues Power

2. Somebody Else

3. Dockside Boogie

4. I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)

5. Here I Go Again

6. Deep, Deep Water

7. The Blues Walk

8. Mean And Evil

9. Underhand Boogie

10. Don't Think Twice

11. Tobacco Road

12. Don't Cry Sister

13. Long Way Home

x

Track List: The Man

1. Honky Tonk

2. Early In The Morning

3. You Can Disagree

4. Say You Love Me

5. I Wonder

6. Unchained Melody

7. Big Mammou

8. There You Are

9. Solid Gold Plated Fool

10. Old Folks Cry A Lot More (Than We'll Ever Know)

11. Jambalaya

12. Someday My Luck Will Change

13. Up Jumped The Devil

x

Track List: No Looking Back

1. Better Off With The Blues

2. Digging New Ground

3. Dope

4. My Own Prison

5. Stop Time

6. C Jam Blues

7. Straighten Up

8. The Peeper

9. Alligator Eating Dog

10. I Will Be Your Friend

11. We're Outta Here

x

Track List: The Original Peacock Recordings

1. Midnight Hour

2. Sad Hour

3. Ain't That Dandy

4. That's Your Daddy Yaddy Yo

5. Dirty Work At The Crossroads

6. Hurry Back Good News

7. Okie Dokie Stomp

8. Good Looking Woman

9. Gate's Salty Blues

10. Just Before Dawn

11. Depression Blues

12. For Now So Long

x

Track List: Standing My Ground

1. Got My Mojo Working

2. Born In Louisiana

3. Cool Jazz

4. I Hate These Doggone Blues

5. She Walks Right In

6. Leftover Blues

7. Louisiana Zydeco

8. What Am I Living For

9. Never Unpack Your Suitcase

x

Track List: Texas Swing

1. Frosty

2. Strollin' With Bones

3. I Wonder

4. Ain't That Dandy

5. Baby Take It Easy

6. Sometimes I Slip

7. I Feel Alright Again

8. Alligator Boogaloo

9. Dollar Got The Blues

10. Near Baku

11. Gate Walks To Board

12. Information Blues

13. Song For Renee

14. Stranded

15. Big Yard

16. One More Mile

17. Flippin' Out

x

Track List: Real Life

1. Real Life

2. Okie Dokie Stomp

3. Frankie And Johnny

4. Next Time You See Me

5. Take The A Train

6. Please Send Me Someone To Love

7. Catfish

8. St. Louis Blues

9. What A Shame, What A Shame

x

Track List: Pressure Cooker

1. She Winked Her Eye

2. Slow Down

3. Just Lippin'

4. My Time Is Expensive

5. Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens

6. Pressure Cooker

7. Ain't That Just Like A Woman

8. Deep, Deep Water

9. Cold Strings

x

Track List: One More Mile

1. Information Blues

2. Song For Renee

3. Stranded

4. Sunrise Cajun Style

5. Big Yard

6. Ain't That Dandy

7. One More Mile

8. I Wonder

9. Flippin' Out

10. Near Baku

x

Track List: Alright Again!

1. Frosty

2. Strollin' With Bones

3. Give Me Time To Explain

4. Baby Take It Easy

5. Sometimes I Slip

6. I Feel Alright Again

7. Alligator Boogaloo

8. Dollar Got The Blues

9. Honey In The Be-Bo

10. Gate Walks To Board

x

Track List: Bogaloosa Boogie Man

1. Bogalusa Boogie Man

2. Mama Mambo

3. Monroe, Lousiana

4. Aztec Flower

5. Hurricane

6. Bayou Stomp

7. Dixie Chicken

8. On My Way Back Home

9. Amos Moses

10. Fiddlin' Around

11. Birmingham

12. After The Band Is Gone

13. Don't Get Around Much Anymore

14. Flyin' Home

15. Caldonia

16. Someday

17. Okie Dokie Stomp

x

Track List: Gate's On The Heat

1. Gate's On The Heat

2. Man And His Environment

3. Funky Mama

4. Jelly, Jelly

5. St. Louis Blues

6. Please Mr. Nixon

7. The Drifter

8. One Mint Julep

9. River's Invitation

10. Dollar's Got The Blues

11. Traveling Mood

12. Three Weeks And A Suitcase ( Slow Funk)

x

Track List: Down South In The Bayou Country

1. Breaux Bridge Rag

2. Folks Back Home

3. Bayou Sam

4. Loup Garou

5. Louisian'

6. Sweet Texas Rose

7. Sheriff's Barbecue

8. Bad Week For Old Fiddlers

9. Sunrise Cajun Style

10. Louisiana Woman

11. Rosalie

12. Jamboree

13. Waiting For Gates Express (Spoken)

14. Gate's Express

15. Cassoulet

16. Never Ending Song Of Love

x

Track List: The Blues Ain't Nothin' (Recorded In France 1971-1973)

1. Sad Hour

2. You Got Money

3. My Time Is Expensive

4. Slow Down

5. Taking My Chance

6. Just Got Lucky

7. Deep, Deep Water

8. Goin' To Chicago

9. Dirty Work At The Crossroads

10. Here I Am

11. New Okie Dokie Stomp

12. Piney Brown Blues

13. Hot Club Drive

14. The People

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