The Happiness Quotient #71
The Legend of CLARENCE GATEMOUTH BROWN
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Clarence Gatemouth Brown did not want to be known as a bluesman. He called his brand of music "American and World Music, Texas Drive and Swing"
In a previous lifetime I was a television reporter for an NBC affiliate in western Massachusetts, WWLP, Channel 22. I was hired as a features reporter, wherein I’d produce, shoot, edit and report in a series that I called IN TOUCH WITH WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS.
Today, I’m bringing you an inspiring, honest never-before-heard interview conducted by myself in 1988 with the amazing, Grammy winning, Blues Hall of Fame legend of the blues (for lack of a better word) CLARENCE GATEMOUTH BROWN. I first met Gatemouth to interview him at his hotel, the Red Roof Inn in South Deerfield, Massachusetts, the morning before a show at the now defunct Sheehan’s Cafe in Northampton, Massachusetts. I’m going to play for you everything from that interview and impressive performance that evening, which took place during a time that many would say was the peak of his storied career.
Gatemouth, who lived on Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, was diagnosed in 2004 with lung cancer. When the notorious Hurricane Katrina moved into the region in August 2005, he hurried away to stay with his brother in neighboring Texas. His home was ruined during the hurricane, and his guitars and instruments washed away. Gatemouth passed shortly after.
Please enjoy this 1988 interview with the incredible Gatemouth Brown, including music from his performance that night. In the interview, Gate schooled me on what The Blues really is, and how he is most assuredly NOT a bluesman. He plays a special kind of music, and it’s not the blues.
For more information about Clarence Gatemouth Brown on Alligator Records:
Gate’s iconic 1966 Gibson Firebird guitar:
Gate’s NY Times obituary:
Grateful Dan Tie Dye's Etsy page for Jerry Garcia glow-in-the-dark T:
Tom Reney, producer/host of Jazz a la Mode on New England Public Media:
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Our theme song, Happiness Jones, appears courtesy of The Wood Brothers.
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