Greg Brown in his field of dreams in Iowa
Star Tribune photo by Richard Sennott
Greg Brown, revered Midwestern singer-songwriter and founder of the widely respected acoustic-oriented Red House Records, is going to make an album for another label. “Freak Flag,” his 24th album, will be his first for Yep Roc. It will be released on May 10.
This is the first time Brown, who is as old-school as Willie Nelson, has recorded with such modern techniques as digital and Pro Tools. He made “Freak Flag” with his longtime buddy and producer/guitarist, Bo Ramsey, in Ardent Studios in Memphis. Led Zeppelin, Big Star, R.E.M., the Replacements and White Stripes are among the acts that have recorded at those legendary studios.
“Freak Flag” includes covers of a tune by Brown’s wife, Iris DeMent, and his daughter, Pieta Brown.
Brown, 61, was a regular on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" in the 1980s. A highly regarded songwriter, he was asked by Jeff Bridges to write a tune for the movie "Crazy Heart" for Bridges' character to sing. Brown delivered "Brand New Angel," and Bridges later picked up an Oscar for best actor for that movie.
Brown will perform April 15 at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.
There’s no word yet on Brown’s status with Red House, the influential St. Paul-based acoustic label. He started Red House in Iowa and put out his first two LPs on the label in 1980 and ’81. But he let the label go dormant until St. Paul entrepreneur Bob Feldman restarted it in 1983 and built it into an international acoustic powerhouse featuring Loudon Wainwright III, Robin and Linda Williams, Rosalie Sorrels, Ramblin Jack Elliott, Claudia Schmidt, Eliza Gilkyson, Brown and many others.
Yep Roc is a hip, eclectic indie label out of North Carolina, founded in 1996, that has released albums by Robyn Hitchcock, Dave Alvin, Liam Finn, the Fleshtones, Nick Lowe, Gang of Four, Reverend Horton Heat, Rodney Crowell, Apples in Stereo, Paul Weller and Ron Sexsmith, to name a few.
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