On a hot smoky first of August night, the crowd at the Rogue got to have some down-home fun with Junior Brown, billed as an “American Original.” He is that with his custom “guit-steel”, a hybrid double necked electric guitar attached to a lap steel guitar which he makes talk in several musical styles: traditional country, a bit of honky-tonk, some western swing, and near the end of the show, an Albert King blues number that just knocked me out. Then, just to keep up a tradition that his audiences love, he played what he calls his “surf medley”, a combination of early sixties hits like Telstar and Secret Agent Man along with other similar nostalgia that put me back in my living room watching TV as a young kid. According to his official bio he has two guit-steels: Big Red and Old Yeller which I think was the one he was playing this night. And play he can. He is a phenomenal musician and his band is stellar as well. Wife Tanya Rae Brown, played rhythm guitar so fast her hands blurred. She sang some fine backup vocals plus she and Junior did a snappy duet together. All in very high heels. Jon Penner was the solid stand-up bass man and Scott Matthews was on drum, singular. He made a lot of excellent noise using one snare and one cymbal. Brown played some old favorites like “My Wife Thinks You’re Dead” and “Highway Patrol” plus some tunes from his new album, “Deep In the Heart of Me.” He and his band are just a hoot so don’t miss him next time around.
Opening for Junior Brown was Jack Hopfinger, a locally well-known guitarist and instructor who has played for several bands in the valley. He and his strat delivered a pleasing and technically excellent performance with a variety of Americana: pop, folk and country with accents of jazz and R&B. Most songs were original but he did a few covers. His voice is rich as well as mellow and he used it to activate a looper which set the percussive beat. Interesting. Hope he comes back soon.