We music writers don’t often throw the word innovator around—and for good reason. But it’s completely justified when we talk about Junior Brown, who not only mastered the guitar and the pedal steel, but did us one better when he created a machine he calls the guit-steel.
You know those double-necked guitars that ’80s hair bands used to totally, like, rock out? Picture that. But different. The top of a guit-steel is a traditional six-string electric guitar and the bottom is a full-sized lap steel. And he plays them both at once! The end result is an ode to the bygone era of country music and a a masterclass on both guitar and steel playing. And while Brown has said that his motivation was utilitarian and not motivated by his desire to become a one-man band, it’s almost impossible not to draw the comparison.
Brown has an unmistakable style. He’s got a rich baritone voice. He wears a suit and a tilted cowboy hat. He’s played with George Jones and The Beach Boys, and both shine through in his music.
Junior Brown is the real deal. It’s western swing. It’s Ernest Tubb. It’s California surf music. It’s honky tonk. It is, quite literally, everything.
If you know Junior Brown, it’s probably for his brief appearance on the Billboard charts in the mid-nineties with “My Wife Thinks You’re Dead” and “Highway Patrol,” and their inclusions on many soundtracks. The internet tells me he also created the theme song for Better Call Saul, the companion series to Breaking Bad. His clever lyrics are unforgettable
But, really, even if you don’t know his work—head to the show and let the spirit of the guit-steel move you.
Junior Brown plays The Commonwealth Room on Friday, June 8. Lucky you, tickets are still available here.