Leonard “Lowdown” Brown
Blues is Calling Me
Music Maker Foundation
Born in Arkansas and raised in Indiana, Leonard “Lowdown” Brown has been surrounded by music most of his life. In 1980 he moved to Houston, Texas for his work with General Electric and became in involved in the local music scene. In 1988, he acquired his moniker “Lowdown” from the organizers of the Benson and Hedges Blues Festival, and the name has stuck with him since. He has opened for music-greats Sister Sledge, ZZ Hill, Johnny Taylor and Bobby Bland. At seventy years old, Brown is just now releasing his debut album Blues is Calling Me. It is a soulful ten-track serving of original blues. With Brown on vocals and Fender Jazzmaster guitar, his backing band is comprised of producer/drummer Ardie Dean, guitarist Microwave Dave Galaher, bassist Tony Grady and Dan Hochter on keys and bass.
With a hint of rasp in his voice, Brown gets the record started with a sweet and tangy platter of real-deal blues in “Juke Joint”. I love the tone he coaxes out of his guitar as he sings about good times, dancing, and eating barbeque. Baptized in Memphis soul, “Find a Bridge” follows next. I find this response to Hurricane Katrina very relatable and inspiring. Brown takes me to church with “Blues Makes Me Feel Good”. This instant classic features warm soulful vocals, lush organ sounds, and a guitar performance played with finesse. Delivered atop a tasty funky rhythm alongside a cool horn accompaniment, title-track “Blues is Calling Me” bears a thick Stax influence. It is undoubtedly a splendid number.
Blues is Calling Me has a classic sound akin to the music released during the blues revival of the Sixties, and I absolutely dig it. It is artists like Leonard “Lowdown” Brown that are keeping this music alive.
By Phillip Smith