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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: 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

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

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

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: 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: Bogaloosa Boogie Man

1. Bogalusa Boogie Man

2. Mama Mambo

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: 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: Gate's On The Heat

1. Gates On The Heat (Instrumental)

2. Man And His Environment

3. Funky Mama

4. Please Mr. Nixon

5. St. Louis Blues (Instrumental)

6. Jelly, Jelly

7. The Drifter

8. One Mint Julep (Instrumental)

9. Dollar Got The Blues

10. River's Invitation

11. Never Ending Love For you

12. Louisiana Breakdown (Instumental)

Comments

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Rest in peace gate mouth...
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We opened up for him in Athens, GA. Names of the band was Blues Cruises and we especially liked the way he played the fiddle. Thank you Clarence from Justin Tyme. Great met memories
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Gatemouth Brown...heav y , heavy, heavy...mmmm m m !
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Back again a week later... Gatemouth Brown was old school. He made that guitar jump and wail, all the while heading up a first class jazz/blues band... Firmly ensconced in the Hall of the Greats. Ah, the blues! Cabernet wine and a taste of ganja while we contemplate our early winter sky...
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Saw him and his amazing band live at the Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis. Great set...
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Pandora a your music is awesome crumbo
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Fell in love with this MAN who I heard for the first time back in 74 in Austin BY GOD Texas out at the OLD Soap Creek Saloon. Back then it was in the.middle of nowhere it seemed like at the time.
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Ïlb
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Goooooood stuff here! Love his nickname.... .
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My kind of music only problem I am NOT THERE! ;0)
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Nice
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uh huh
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Nice
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nice
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Spent some time with Gate in N.O. 77-78-79 attitude RIP Rich/Tips
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Never Ending Song of Love for You...nice song better by Delaney & Bonnie
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Gate didn't play the violin. He played a viola. Something he was quick to correct. He would say that they were all violas, but fiddle player's heads are so big it looked like a violin. That being aside, thank you for helping to remember my Other Grandpappy
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The Gate takes blues back to its roots
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i saw him in 1967 playing a ford car dealership in farmington nm. i drove by could not believe my young ears, made a U-turn into the lot. i then proceeded to have a one man concert all afternoon as the rednecks going in and out of the place had no idea that they were listening to a one of a kind talent.. one the of the best memories of a 15 year-old boy stuck in redneck hell untl my release upon graduation. a magical moment for me. he played like stanley jordan before there was a stanley jordan
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Versatility personified
He and ray charles defy definition
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I never met him (that he'd have remembered) but I saw him in a small bar in Colombus, and he freaking brought the place down. Daaamn!!!
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Met Gate many a time in Nashville.
Total Rock Star! I loved the vintage
bus.
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The days down by de Mississippi River w/ your family u were the best string player in this universe
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geraldhogan6 2
I can't believe if never heard of Gate ! wow this is awesom music
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How can ya not love his nickname? Fantastic!
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brians1111
Saw Gatemouth many times... one night he was playing at Wolf Trap in Va. and I called up the venue to invite him to dinner at my small club. He picked up the phone, said maybe, and a couple hours later the tour bus pulled up. The rest of the band was tired, but Gate and the bus driver came in, had dinner, talked with me like we were old friends, and did a couple of songs with the very talented blues band I had playing at the club that night. He did proceed to pull out his pipe and smoke what
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Hey, how come the above bio didn't mention his birth in Vinton, LA and his move back to Louisiana in the late 70's living just outside New Orleans in Slidell, LA, till he lost his house in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He evacuated to live with relatives in Orange, Tx where he died shortly after. Reviewer must be a Texas native...LOL
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wegoweko
Only got to see him once, warming up for Clapton in Chicago but he was a real original. Nice that Clapton wasn't intimidated by him. What a show.
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Always loved the Gate, saw him in a concert and just to break everyone up he did a POLKA. A musicians musician. R.I.P Gate.
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I saw him in Oshkosh WI.Almost literally bummed into him.All I could say was WOW.He was walkin down the steps, I was walkin up.He was dressed the part.All decked out in black,leathe r pants & his black cowboy hat.He spoke to me sayinYour a young one.I was in my twenties.I replied,Well , I guess I am.It was funny because I had to take a pottie break.My boyfriend @ the time totally missed him.Then I was surprised tht u had to pay for an autograph.So , n a t u r a l l y I spoke up abt it.He graciouly gave me an
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martinmand1r
I first saw Gatemouth in Newport,KY. My friend bought my ticket because I had no money. During set break he sat at the table with Cd's laying there. He was autographing them, God I wanted one but no. So asked him to sign my shirt, he nodded at the Cd's and said I don't sign textiles So I told him my story and asked him if I could just shake his hand. So..I shook Gatemouth's hand. Worth more than any autograph!!
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gate mouth brown what can Isay the man was ahead of his time.
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jamesrandall 5 4 2 3
I first saw GateMouth In Elko, NV in 1973/74 during the first Cowboy Poetsconvent i o n , I think it was at the Stockmans Hotel/Casino . It was very impressive, and I have followed him since. Love his style and music.
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sat 6 hours at the front row table @ Buddy Guy's to see him....the best the best
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bigdogbluesm a n
All I can say is yes,yes,yes.
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WOW... Just heard him for the very first time and he is awesome, I love Pandora you can find many new/old artists that you would have never found, without random plays and related artists :)
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therakes
I met gate several times, one time we got high in his truck and he showed off his Sherrif's badge from Louisiana and his road pistol.....w e laughed our asses off, gate later did a tune with a hankerchief woven between the strings to dampen the strings....m a n that was wild.. I miss ya gate and hope God is keeping you close
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OMG this guy like the other plays with his soul, damn!
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This guy was a great artist and is missed. Your bio of him is missing the fact that he was nominated twice for Grammy's and received a Grammy in the 80's. That is worth mentioning I think.
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Love this music!
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Mmmmm...good !
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Loved Gate. Saw him several times in several cities. My favorite show was in an underground club in E. Lansing, MI. I think it was Rick’s American Café. He started the show by loudly announcing, “I want everybody to shut up and sit down. I already been paid. I can walk out of here right now. Sit down and shut up and you’re gonna hear a show like you never heard before.” The bar got very quiet and everybody did as they were instructed. He proceeded to put on a hell of a show-
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aardvark29
Gatemouth is a legend. Legends never die. His licks live on in so many other musicians including myself.
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gotta love him. so free, so creative. I've met him a couple times, a real character, always on, playin to win, expecting life to be great. hip, honest, hot , its Gate ! now he's gone, that's ok. dyin ain't bad, wastin time is bad, and this man used what God gave him so generously.
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His music was sweet to the soul, brought his bayou lifestyle to us all who live miles away - thank you " Gatemouth ".
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What a great loss. It's a shame when we lose someone like Clarence.
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Superb!
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fatherthing
Love "The Drifter"...
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sounds of New Orleans come thru as well.
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magruver
awesome,,,,, , , Love it.
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