Greg Brown -- May 18, 1997

The Palms, Davis, California

Report 1:

Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 23:38:17 -0700
From: "Andrew Knight" <>
Subject: Davis California Review

Jennifer and I just got home from our first Greg Brown show. We both had a great time, knowing his songs is not a prerequisite of enjoying this great storyteller, songwriter. We laughed a lot, we got nice feelings of 'understanding' and 'recognition' and, were struck by his musical ability to convey his messages. We were lucky enough to get seats in the front row next to Laurel and a few other people on the list. I'm terrible with names, but, it was nice to meet them and chat before the show. By the way, we were unable to see the first show:-( I'm pretty sure someone kept a set list to post, but, I have to remark about the songs that I really enjoyed:

My favorite song played was what he called a boy song about he and his brother walking to the KC to get a diet coke for their Mom...their dog champ beat up Larry's Doberman and chased it all the way home...that'll teach Larry. I loved this song. Good memories to him and me.

Then his Alaska song about his two small feet on a big mountain was really great. He also played Sadness which he's going to San Fran to shoot a video for. Apparently, Sadness is in a movie called Dreaming with Fishes. He's not sure what the video will be like..."maybe I'll be in SCUBA gear or something." After the show he was explaining that he got a copy of the movie's soundtrack which he didn't like at all..."there's all these oooh, ahhh sad quiet songs then Sadness just ripping doesn't fit."

He played Gold Band? About the ring that leaves a mark on his finger when taken off...nice song/tribute to a caring he had/has??? We like this song a lot too.

We really like Grandma's Jars...Speeding...Smitty's place (a song he said,"was written in a little place in Albequerque..funny stuff with a good ending)

Anyway, there was a lot more and somebody that knows the real names of the songs can post them. It ends up that we had a great time, loved the show, are eager to buy his albums and, recommend him to all our friends.

About the venue: it was a small barn. Last row was all of about ten rows back. A very nice setting, I thought, but small enough to make me wonder why artists like Greg don't play in bigger places. It made for a great treat for us and probably not a lot of dough for Greg or the venue. Greg was hanging outside behind his Chrysler Seabring convertible (rented?) after the show and talking to fans. Got a little (very little) something for you Graham:-)

Take care all...


Report 2:

Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 13:09:19 -0700
From: Lisa Fraser <>
Subject: Davis, CA Review 5/18/97

We saw Greg's concert (the second show) at The Palms in Davis Sunday night. The show was excellent. Greg seemed to be in a good mood. His voice was in great shape and he was more talkative than at other times when I've seen him. The audience was a good one, responding very well to the tunes and to the introductions to songs. Greg was in his usual jeans, sleeveless t-shirt, sunglasses and that same old hat.

He started the show off with "Think About You", one of my most favorite tunes, (Yes, Bob, I did finally see how he plays it and it's so simple! I'll send that to you soon.) Then went right into "You Drive Me Crazy", another song that's right up there near the top of my list of GB favorites. Then Greg started talking about how casual it always is at The Palms and that one day he might show up in a suit. He said he likes to wear suits on occasion. He also talked about how one day he won't get as many gigs as he does now ("Your crowds drink water, Greg..."), so he'll be cruising, looking for places to play and he'll pull into town, maybe with Bo Ramsey, and they'll arrive in a Cadillac - not a new one, mind you - and stop and walk into some little dive like "Scotty's" [substitute the name of some little joint in your town] and there won't be a stage, really, just a couple stools in a corner maybe. He and Bo will play a few tunes to who ever's there.... and he went into "Mose Allison Played Here". At the end of the song, he said that it was a true story, that he was depressed, playing in some little hole in the wall in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and looked up and saw a poster of Mose Allison and he knew then that everything was gonna be okay.

The next song was "Going, Going, Gone", that lovely little tune that always makes me feel really good. After that, Greg talked about being in Alaska and how, when he was there, he swore he was not going to write a song because everyone who goes there always writes songs but they're always pithy little ditties without much real content. So Greg was not gonna write a song while in Alaska and he was out of "wow"s after only a few days there. Then he was driving and came around a curve in the road, came upon another magnificent vista of the mountains and the ocean and, when he looked, he saw white whales "dancing in the waves" and he couldn't help himself: He pulled over by the side of the road and wrote "Two Little Feet" which was, of course, the next song.

Greg's next offering was "Hey Baby Hey", and then he did a song I did not recognize: From the chorus it would seem that the name of the tune is probably something along the lines of "It's Enough, Goddammit". Being unfamiliar with the tune, I'm not even sure what it is about, but I liked the chorus!

Then Greg went into a bit about being a kid. He talked about how we, as grown-ups, try to reassure kids, tell them that everything's okay and there is no boogeyman so go back to sleep, but he said that kids sometimes know more than we realize, like the fact that there "is" a boogeyman and he has to be dealt with. That led into "Mississippi Moon", followed by "Walking Down to Casey's".

Greg said then that he thought he ought to practice the tune he was going to make a video of the next day! The song turned out to be "Sadness", which I've always thought was an excellent, excellent song. I love his personification of sadness as the woman who seduces and woos him while he resists with all he's got, telling her to go away, even though she persists. And when he played the song for the show, it was obvious that he's done more with the guitar work on the song, making it somewhat more sophisticated than it was on the CD. Greg said that the song was gonna be in a movie called (I think) "They Dream with the Fishes". I know, sounds weird, but I'm pretty sure that's what he said. He didn't say what the movie is about, and didn't say anything more about the video. Quite intriguing! Following the sadness theme, Greg next played "Lately", a song that I love but (or maybe partly because of) which always makes me cry.

Greg then invited requests, which I have never heard him do before, though sometimes people offer unsolicited suggestions and Greg sometimes plays the suggested tune. But this time he invited the suggestions and played some of them. Of course, "Good Morning Coffee" and "Canned Goods" were requested. Greg said that he feels the need to "deconstruct" those two songs because they're just coming out too long (he timed "Canned Goods" at 12 minutes recently!). So he did a little medley of the two songs and it was very nice, though not quite as entertaining as it is when he goes into all the scat on "Coffee" and all the chatter about Iowa farm life and relatives that has, in the past, preceded "Canned Goods". And that was the end of the set.

Greg gave two encores. In the first, he came out and sang a song that I am, again, unfamiliar with called (I think) "Band of Gold". It's a pretty country-sounding tune, and I would be a little surprised to hear that Greg wrote it. It sounded like a Patsy Cline song. Or, at least, in my mind, I can hear Patsy doing a beautiful job on that tune. Greg said (with tongue in cheek, I believe) that song shows that he could play weddings if he ran out of other gigs. The second song of the first encore was "Speeding", another song I really enjoy, especially when he plays it, as he did Sunday, a little more slowly than it was recorded. His chatter during that song was very amusing, too.

For his final encore, Greg sang "If I Ever Do See You Again". This song, like so many other of Greg's evokes such emotion and sensitivity, that I call it a 'heartbreak song'. And so it was. Greg's rendition of it on Sunday night was very moving.

All in all, it was a very good show. I chatted with Greg ever so briefly both before and after the show and he was quite amiable. Although I've been listening to his music for almost ten years now, I'd never spoken with him before and I was pleased to find him approachable and conversational, although I kind of got the feeling that he's maybe a little bit shy! It's hard to imagine that someone with that much talent would be shy, but that's how he seemed. 'Course I may have been projecting because I'm a little bit shy in that kind of a situation myself.

Anyway, those of you still looking forward to an upcoming show have a treat in store. Although Greg didn't offer up any new tunes (unless "It's Enough Goddammit" and "Band of Gold" are new), and there's no new CD for purchase this tour, it was a completely satisfying Greg Brown musical experience. I was delighted to be there.