From: J Johnson
Date: Monday, February 12, 2001 10:17:39 PM
Subject: [GBrown-L] Review of Ann Arbor 2/11/01
Ann Arbor is a university town that sits in the southeastern corner of the mitten of lower Michigan. For all intents and purposes, it is THE collegiate suburb of Detroit and a town that is a collection of everything diverse. The Ark now seems long removed from its original location in the house on Hill Street, only blocks away. In that house you could sit on the floor or lean against a beam and watch the likes of Ramblin' Jack Elliott, John Prine, and Steve Goodman. This Ark finds its home on Main Street, a street that tells travelers what it is. Three flights of stairs lead you to the second floor hallway that rings the backside of the room. Four hundred people can crowd into this cozy venue with a combination of theater, bench and folding chair seats. Permanent risers about twenty feet from the stage make every spot close. I've heard more than one musician refer to this place as the "best room in North America."
I've seen a river of music flow through the Ark, but no one rises above Greg brown, and only a few come within miles. People here have been waiting for this once-a-year appearance, and there is a palpable electricity in the air. The room is dark, the stage lit, and the Hallowed Hick strolls in from stage right.
There is that moment of anticipation, right before the music begins, when my memory tells me what the sound will be. I know how he sings, what do you expect when you've traveled to several states and thousands of miles (including The Mill) just to hear it? Then the man growls the first words of the the first melody into the microphone, and I am always surprised. The voice that I thought I had memorized, the one that comes from the gravel underneath the roadbed, from way down low in the coal mine, picks up a tempo and a rhythm, "When your head comes forward..."
There is something about this man that sets him apart from others. He is a master story teller. Even though I have heard in person and read about some of the in-between-song pieces, I found myself wanting to hear them again. I wait for the punchline...and his delivery always makes it different. There is nothing hinting at a scripted presentation from this man. He performs in the moment...
He is real. It feels like he is one of us. Just a regular person with a busload of talent. When Greg's on stage a transformation takes place. When he is making music, he becomes somebody else. He is inside the music. The legs move, the head bobs and weaves. He goes to a different land...and we go with him...some of us don't want to come back...
and THE VOICE...the smoky, melodic growl with the clarity of a mountain stream...If I saw him making music tomorrow...it wouldn't be too soon...
Set Lists Follow: