A recent interview by Janelle Janci for Lancaster Online yeilded this awesome biographical piece...
Attending a concert in Arlington, Virginia, was the push Gary Brown needed to start his own band.
Brown, who had played guitar since he was 11, saw Charlie Pastorfield and the Believers with his now-wife Trudi in the early ’90s. During a break in the sets, he talked to Pastorfield about his gear and complimented him on the sound.
After the music restarted in the second set, Brown saw Pastorfield approaching him with his guitar.
“He walks over mid-set, takes off his guitar and hands it to me,” Brown says. “The world just shrank. I started sweating profusely.”
There were 200-300 people watching.
“It was a sink or swim situation,” Brown says. “I decided to swim.”
Brown’s impromptu guitar solo earned a standing ovation from the crowd.
“By the time that applause finished ringing in my ears … that was it for me,” Brown says.
The experience inspired Brown to start his blues funk band, Bushmaster featuring Gary Brown. ...
Brown was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Palmer Park, Maryland. In his early childhood, his parents played music in their home from artists like Charles Brown, Amos Milburn and Joe Turner.
Then, while Brown was still young, his mom found religion.
“Music that wasn’t of the church suddenly became unwelcome,” Brown says.
That didn’t mean Brown went completely without it, though. He’d repeatedly sneak in records and cassettes, which always got found and confiscated. He also waited up to hear secular music on TV.
“I’d stay up and watch stuff like ‘Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert’ on really low volume,” Brown says. “My mother would wake up and come in the room screaming, ‘Get that devil music off my TV!’ ”
Brown’s diverse group of friends also introduced him to secular music. After he started playing guitar, he’d camp in the woods with friends and learn old Hank Williams songs.
“I had all types of friends — black, white; I’d hang out with green kids if I knew any,” Brown says. “Having that wide circle of friends, musically, I was exposed to some things I otherwise wouldn’t have been.”
Brown says he was somewhat of a “tumbleweed” after high school and didn’t have a plan other than music. He got a jolt of confidence after the Charlie Pastorfield show. With that experience still fresh in his mind, he went to a friend’s house for a jam session.
The drummer at the session said Brown had a lot to say, both musically and lyrically, and should consider starting a band. He did, and the project became Bushmaster.
Bushmaster has been a trio from the start, Brown says, but has had a number of lineup changes. ...
Brown has released four albums as Bushmaster, the most recent being 2011’s “Revolution Rhapsody.” He’s currently at work on writing its follow-up, which Brown says will be a continuation of his politically aware, socially minded and environmentally cautious songwriting.
“I try to do that without getting too preachy,” Brown says. “There are enough people on soap boxes. There are enough demagogues, enough loud voices. I just try to provide a way of addressing things where it can be musical.”
Speaking out on dividing issues can cause difficulties if promoters or venue owners don’t agree with his views, Brown says. But, he wouldn’t do it any other way.
“When you express those views, some people could say you are shooting yourself in the foot, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take on things and speak truth to power in my songs,” Brown says.
He says using blues music as an outlet for these conversations is proof that not all blues songs are lamenting a long lost love.
“There is blues that is like that, and it has its place, but there’s also blues that celebrates life,” Brown says. “Like I said, there’s music like mine that’s largely protest-style blues, and there always has been. … I would hope that people would look beyond stereotypes and give blues and blues-influenced music a chance.”
Brown says the best way to experience Bushmaster is live. He hopes his live shows are informative, funky and even therapeutic.
“I try to achieve a group catharsis,” Brown says. “I’m not always successful, but that’s what I’m going for. I try to leave everybody as exhausted and happy as I am when it’s over. That’s my goal.”
- Janelle Janci, Lancaster Online, January 24, 2018 - posted with permission
Bushmaster's CD, "Revolution Rhapsody aka: Uprising Music", debuted at #41 on the Roots Music chart, at #21 on the Living Blues Magazine Radio Chart, and has received reviews, interviews, and radio airplay from Croatia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and The U.K., as well as across the United States. Gary was also named "Best Up and Coming Blues Rock Artist" for The Rock Over America Magazine Music Awards 2012. (click here to read more about Revolution Rhapsody CD) (scroll down to the bottom of this page to hear some music).
Gary Brown loves playing guitar, and loves playing/performing for people - the more the better. Festivals are a great way for him to share his love of guitar and music with a wide spectrum of music lovers. It's easy to see, from watching him perform, how connected he is to the music - he emotes - making sure each note counts, conveying not only the melody of each song, but the emotion behind them. A few of the festivals that Bushmaster has performed at recently are:
Tone is a hard thing to describe. Just like "tone of voice" is used to describe vocal timber and how "nasally" or "clear" a speaker's voice is used to create a mood or a character - the tone created by a guitar conveys emotion, mood, or adds character to a song.
Gary's constant pursuit of good tone has taken him down a long and winding path through a plethora of different amplifiers, effects pedals, and guitars. Currently he has a G&L Legacy, two custom built guitars, a "Viper-Verb" custom built amplifier, a custom modified Marshall JMP, and an ever-changing pedal board.