Advertisement

The First Family of Folk


Pieta Brown said she gets so nervous when she opens for her dad that she can “barely talk.”

“It never goes away, that dad factor,” she told the Englert crowd, “specially when it’s that dad.”

And who can blame her? That Dad’s voice, guitar-playing and presence get more imposing with each passing year. Who other than the man’s own progeny would dare “prepare the way” for him?

If Pieta was nervous, it didn’t show. She turned in a shimmery set and was only occasionally upstaged by the loveable, lowdown showboating of other half Bo Ramsey on electric guitar and whispered harmonies.

The Englert provided the perfect sounding board for Pieta’s often elusive voice. It’s hard to think of another singer who so totally fuses vocal timbre and phrasing. So finely hiding one within the other is the musical equivalent of a person looking at your boots when they’re speaking to you, but it works.

Older songs dovetailed with new off her just-released One and All. The night’s theme of redemption bobbed to the surface on “Other Way Around”: “You got your fine shirt/I got a cheap cigar/You’re in the sunshine/I’m in a dirty bar….Someday, it will be the other way around…”

Pieta ended her stage-setting with a luminous version of “Remember the Sun,” dedicated to family “as crazy as we all may be.” (It sure sounded like she had a tremolo effect on her acoustic guitar, but maybe it was an Easter miracle.)

Greg opened things with a recitation featuring, “I who have died, am alive again today.” Make no mistake, nobody but Greg Brown could pull that off. Just as nobody but Greg Brown could make a brilliant career of fusing sage wisdom with abject sentimentality. Saturday night, a voice that has aged to sound half-Mephistopheles, half-Paul Robeson didn’t hurt either.

Greg Brown at Englert Theatre, Mission Creek 2010 (Photo by Matt Butler)

The carefully curated set was heavy on songs about giving way to the younger generation (“It’s Your Town Now” and “Tender Hearted Child” – note: not 100% sure about this title) and out-and-out dying (“How Black the Earth” and a nice cover of Richard Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day.”) Greg’s voice veered from spooky keening to disquieting death rattle, even on the funny woman’s falsetto line from a rocker that had Ramsey and bassist John Penner join the  man and remain for the rest of the show. Happily, the spring resurrection theme was never far off; “Spring Wind,” for example, was a breath of just that.

The night ended as it only could have: the entire family (daughters and wife Iris Dement) taking the stage for a beautiful, button-popping “Iowa Waltz” and “This Little Light of Mine.”


Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV » editor@littlevillagemag.com

Advertisement

The Iowa City Human Rights Commission needs you!

Apply Today

@ICHumanRights »

Advertisement

Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.

Regular

$10/mo or $120/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.

Italic

$20/mo or $240/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.

Bold

$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
LittleVillageMag.com connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.

Coralville Public Library Online Summer Reading Programs

For ages 0-99+