Updated August 23, 2018.
Kirby Brown lets you in. In song and conversation, there’s an engaging openness that quickly draws you to the Nashville-based singer/songwriter who will perform Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, at the Triple Crown Whiskey Bar and Raccoon Motel in Davenport, IA. We spoke just before his last Raccoon show in a short phone interview.
Born in Deep East, TX, Brown was raised on a dairy farm in the Ozark foothills of North Central Arkansas. He moved to Dallas after high school to pursue songwriting and lived in New York for four years before moving to Music City last year. Over the years he’s toured throughout the US and shared shows with Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, Jonathan Tyler and the Texas Gentlemen.
Beyond the singer/songwriter title, Brown’s genre is perhaps best described as Americana and there’s a definite country underpinning heard in steel-laced
melodies and rural-oriented lyrics. Although he’s settling into the creative community of east Nashville, Brown recorded his most recent album at FAME in Muscle Shoals, AL. A three-part EP series called Out of Exile is now available on Spotify here and iTunes here.
Brown’s melodic, yet uncomplicated storytelling weaves sacred themes into mundane places. For example, Broken Bell introduces listeners to a diner or “cathedral of the highway” where a lonely-heart confesses to the waitress the struggle to regain footing after loss. Brown explains the fictitious Broken Bell is just a symbol for a welcoming place where you feel at home. Others, he says, may find “their safe place” in a grandfather’s pond, a church or a live music show.
Perhaps Brown’s sensitivity and sincerity sets that stage even during a short phone conversation. We talked of deep losses and how those force one to rebuild points of view in order to survive. Brown tells me about the debilitating sorrow he faced as a 19-year-old after his girlfriend and best friend both died in separate incidents. “I was in a place of loss of the two closest people to me,” he says. I found myself explaining how my own notions of parenthood were shattered, then rebuilt after my husband and I had our daughter who was born extremely prematurely and disabled.
Brown compared finding life’s meaning to planting seeds. “Before something grows, you have to break the ground,” offers Brown, whose paternal grandfather was a farmer and maternal grandfather was a Baptist preacher. “I was raised with faith. Then I lost my faith. I survived. I had love. Then I lost love. You have to lose something and still find a way to still see beauty and meaning around you.”
He hopes audiences will connect to the stories and themes of his songs despite different life experiences. “Hopefully, I’m doing it in such as way that others can get in there with me,” he says. More information and tickets for the August 1 2018 show at EventBrite here.
Kirby Brown was kind enough to share a playlist via Spotify with some current favorites. I asked him to start and stop with his own tunes. Enjoy!
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Thank you to Kirby Brown for supplying all photos for this post. The feature photo at top by Alex Justice.