Posts Tagged ‘The Beatnik Playboys’

In every major city in the United States, there exists a very versatile musician or musicians that have the musical talent and ability to create music that consists of many different genres or styles that change from one song to the next. One such musician right here in Cleveland is Rachel Brown.

With her, piano, singer-songwriter Rachel Brown is able to combine together Honky Tonk, Jazz, Blues, Country, even Rock and Roll into songs that are as varied as the genres that help to create them. Brown is one talent that can be put into the Americana musical genre because of her generous use of those individual genres in her songs.

In order to bring her music to life, Rachel Brown is backed up by several musicians who call themselves the Beatnik Playboys. The Beatnik Playboys consist of Bill Watson on bass, Roy King on drums and Dave Huddleston on guitar. As versatile as Brown, the three musicians easily transition from Blues to Jazz to other styles and are the perfect musicians to back up Rachel Brown. And together, Rachel and the Beatnik Playboys create one of Cleveland’s premier bands.

Having already released one album of original music called Just Look My Way, Rachel Brown made a name for herself with that release and has since become one of the most sought after acts in Cleveland. Recently, Rachel and the Beatnik Playboys followed up that release with another album. The 2014 release from Rachel Brown and the Beatnik Playboys is called Once Again.

Once Again begins with the title track. “Once Again” is a slow-paced Country track that brings to mind artists like Loretta Lynn or others who would now be classified as Classic Country. The writing style of Rachel Brown feels as authentic as anything that would have been created back during those classic years that are now seen as so influential to today’s up-and-coming artists that are creating their own take on the Country music genre.

The new release continues with the song “Mama and Daddy”. Staying within that Classic Country sound, the song features the Beatnik Playboys as much as it features Rachel Brown. The trio of bassist Bill Watson, drummer Roy King and guitarist Dave Huddleston creates a strong guitar-based track with plenty of twang courtesy of Huddleston’s guitar. The heartbreaking lyrics contained within the song refer to what a family might do if they no longer had their parents. Those lyrics feel as poignant today as they would have 20-30 years ago. Lyrics like “What would we do if Mama and Daddy were gone?” bring that Old-Timey feel to Rachel Brown’s music.

Rachel Brown is not the only writer within the musical ensemble. The song “It’s Not Easy” features the writing style of bassist Bill Watson. The trio of Watson on bass, Huddleston on guitar and King on drums help lay down a simple jazz sound that Brown adds her piano playing to. The results end up being a track that feels like a Jazz standard. Taking a listen to the track, you’ll swear that you’ve heard the song before as it feels so familiar. You may even start to sing along. That simple feel in the lyrics and music is what makes the song work.

The telltale sign of a good songwriter is the ability to write in such a way that the song being performed actually feels like a story. The ‘story’ of “Jimmy C” from Rachel Brown is one of those songs that seem to bring a character to life as Brown sings of an old friend. The combination of all of the musicians on this track creates a song that easily could be heard on Country music formats on today’s radio.

If there was one particular song on the new release of Once Again from Rachel Brown and the Beatnik Playboys, it would have to be “My Best Friend is My Song”. The track begins with the combo of Brown on piano, Bill Watson on bass and Chris Hanna on organ. The first minute or so of the track is simply the three musicians creating an instrumental moment before Brown adds her vocals. The song’s music will hit you in the heart with its beauty from the very first few bars. With the addition of the lyrics, Brown proceeds to explain the meaning of the title of the song. The lyrics and the music work well together to bring the lyrics to life.  “My Best friend is My Song” is easily one of the best moments on the album.

Just like her previous album of Just Look My Way, Rachel Brown’s Once Again is a strong release from beginning to end. And with plenty of variety in the music, there’s bound to be something for everybody on the songwriter’s new release. Take a listen and see why everybody’s talking about Rachel Brown.

Check out Rachel Brown in concert as she performs the song “My Best Friend is My Song“.

rachelbrown6Cleveland’s own Rachel Brown is a musician that has performed with acts like Hillbilly Idol. It is with acts like that that Rachel has started to get some attention by the followers of the local music scene. And with her talents as a singer and as a piano player, Rachel has also proven herself to be a solid solo artist. In fact, her last performance at The Barking Spider Tavern in University Circle that happened in early February was well-attended as many people came out to see her perform.

With Rachel Brown’s abilities as a singer and piano player being what they are, it should come as no surprise that Brown is also a talented songwriter, as well. In fact, she has just completed a new debut album with several talented musicians from the Greater Cleveland area. These musicians help form Rachel Brown’s back-up band. Together, the group and Brown create the band Rachel Brown and the Beatnik Playboys. It is this band that has just created the release called Just Look My Way.

This new album showcases Rachel Brown’s ability as a singer, musician and songwriter. In fact, of the thirteen original tracks that make up the new release by Brown, twelve of the songs were written by Brown. And while the album does include plenty of Country music as you would expect from someone who spends part of her time performing with a band like Hillbilly Idol, it also includes some Honky Tonk influence, some Jazz influence, even some songs that would fit into the “Easy Listening” category.

Rachel Brown’s new album begins with the only song on the release not written by Brown herself. “As We Speak” is a song written bass player (and Hillbilly Idol member) Bill Watson. “As We Speak” is a track that has more of a Western Swing feel to it than a Country one thanks, in part, to fiddle player Denny Jones. With Jones, the rest of the musicians include Bill Watson on bass, Dave Huddleston on electric guitar, Roy King on drums, with Brown on piano and vocals.

The track “Peace in the Valley” is the first instance where the listener gets to experience the writing style of Rachel Brown. As is evident with this track, Brown has been heavily influenced by the style of Country music that was being created before the Rock ‘n’ Roll style became such a big part of the music that is called Country music today. “Peace in the Valley” is a track that sounds like it would have been recorded many years ago by someone like Dolly Parton. The playing style of Rachel Brown on the piano, matched with steel guitar from Al Moss, gives the track its “old-fashioned” feeling. This track is a welcomed reminder of what the music sounded like years ago and would make any fan of the Country stars of yesterday happy.

Many of today’s musical acts enjoy larger success by releasing songs with “cross-over” potential. If any song on Just Look My Way from Rachel Brown could be considered a “cross-over” potential, it would be the song “Another Lifetime Ago”. The simple ballad featuring piano, bass and drums would easily fit on any “Easy Listening” format, while having just enough fiddle from Denny Jones to still be considered “Country”. But it’s Brown’s beautiful vocals on the track that truly makes the song feel “timeless,” as her delivery on this track is reminiscent of Country singers like Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. Along with Brown’s emotional lyrics of days gone by, the thing that makes “Another Lifetime Ago” so strong is the piano. There seems to be as much emotion in the notes played by Brown as there is in the words she sings. And with the subtle addition of Denny Jones’ fiddle to the track, all of the musical elements come together to create perhaps the strongest track on the album.

While “Another Lifetime Ago” is probably the strongest standout track on the album, another song that could easily get played on several radio formats is the track “What If”. Another track with a strong and beautiful piano part, “What If” seems to pick up where “Another Lifetime Ago” left off. As “Another Lifetime Ago” deals with looking back, “What If” finds the singer pondering certain paths that may have made the situation better.

Much of Just Look My Way stays in a Country vein, but some tracks find Rachel Brown making other styles of music. The track “Enjoy the Dance” blends pop music with a touch of jazz to create a song that is beautiful and energetic at the same time. The feeling of the song seems to invite the listener to do just as the title of song says and “Enjoy the Dance”. Plus, the saxophone from Jeff Rice helps give the track its jazzy feel.

As a debut release, Just Look My Way by Rachel Brown is as strong as anything from artists with catalogs of releases to listen to. And with the different styles of music created by Rachel Brown and the Beatnik Playboys, the album is nicely varied and helps to show off the talents of all involved ………especially Rachel Brown.