With his sandpaper-coarse but sensitive baritone, Greg Brown offers keen insights into the realities and foibles of modern life tinged with a hefty dose of common sense. He is the son of an electric guitar-playing mother and a Pentecostal preacher and was raised listening to gospel music in rural Iowa. He began singing around age 18 in New York where he ran hootenannies at Gerdes Folk City. A year later he began writing for Buck Ram (of Platters fame) and his production company. After that he worked with a band for a few years and eventually returned to Iowa to marry. There, he worked for the Iowa Arts Council where he performed for children, mentally challenged people and hospital patients; he also played in many Midwestern coffeehouses and clubs. From there he worked with Garrison Keillor on the Prairie Home Companion live radio program. It was an exciting period for Brown, who enjoyed performing with a wide variety of musicians.
Brown had founded his own record label, Red House, a few years back, and had issued the albums 44 & 66 and Iowa Waltz, but had turned over control to Bob Feldman to concentrate on writing and performing. He recorded his first widely available album, In the Dark With You, in 1985 to widespread critical acclaim. The next year, he released Songs of Innocence and Experience, comprised of William Blake's poetry set to music and featuring Beausoleil founder Michael Doucet on fiddle. With his own songwriting, Brown expresses many moods in a variety of styles and with vivid imagery. Many of his songs tell stories, both humorous and sad. In 1993, he and East Coast folk singer Bill Morrissey teamed up to record the tradition-based Friend of Mine. In addition to recording folk albums for adults, Brown has also recorded an intelligent children's album, Bathtub Blues, featuring songs he wrote in conjunction with elementary school students. Brown's profile increased through the '90s with such acclaimed albums as Dream Cafe (1992), Poet Game (1994), Further In (1996), and Slant 6 Mind (1997). Covenant followed three years later.
In 2006, Greg released The Evening Call, which charted high on Americana and folk radio, earned him five stars in Mojo and garnered rave reviews in No Depression, Acoustic Guitar and The Washington Post. Greg’s new collection Dream City: Essential Recordings Vol 2, 1997-2006 features some of these new Americana classics along with other fan favorites from his last six studio albums and some previously unreleased material and live tracks.
Greg continues to tour across North America and Europe, playing theaters, festivals and benefit concerts. When not on the road, he lives with wife Iris DeMent in Iowa City and spends time with his children and grandson.