Rodney Brown

Date Posted: January 21, 2016

Rodney Brown

Date Posted: |

Rodney Brown is back into the mainstream of Canadian Singer Songwriters. He was part of that first wave along with Stan Rogers, Murray McLauchlan and Bruce Cockburn. Brown played all the major Canadian festivals and toured the length of the country. He has a real sense of place in his songwriting – he lives and writes about Northwestern Ontario. And I love hearing Canadian place names in songs. Especially good songs…. ” -Les Siemieniuk reviewing Into The Woods for CBC’s DNTO and Canada’s national folk magazine Penguin Eggs.
This last decade has seen Rodney record four outstanding albums. His latest effort Songs of Fort William with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra [2012] follows the success of North Land [2009] and the highly acclaimed, Big Lonely CD [2004]. Spanning a forty year career of songwriting, performing and recording Rodney has donned many musical persona’s but these days he writes mostly about his home on the North Shore of Lake Superior. His songs paint evocative pictures combined with excellent musicianship and the skills of a veteran performer. Rodney has earned a dedicated and growing fan base.

Born in Fort William [Thunder Bay] on November 11th, 1954 Rodney plucked his first guitar strings at the age of 7 and he hasn’t stopped since. His teacher was his father, C&W singer Mel Brown. Rodney paid his dues playing the bars, pubs, and coffeehouses of Northwestern Ontario performing solo, with mandolinist Damon Dowbak and with several bands including R&B Airways and Whiskey Jack. When the bands split, Rodney continued on his solo career and in 1977, released his first album – Freedom in Me. It was distributed across Canada, and was exported to England and Japan. Promoting the record took him across the country, playing the folk festival circuit. His song Somebody Give Me A Job was heralded as the “National Anthem for the 1980′s” by the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Performances on CBC’s, Morningside, Touch the Earth, Simply Folk and Country Roads followed and established performers like Daisy Debolt, Tom Jackson, Heather Bishop and Kim Deschamps began to include his songs in their repertoires. The CBC, TVO, Monitor North, and Kam Theater began to commission songs from him.

Rodney toured to Newfoundland with Kam Theater’s production of HARVEST and in 1980 released his second CD, When The Bay Turns Blue. By this time Rodney was fronting his own band The Derailers who performed a unique fusion of country, blues, folk and reggae music.

In the mid- eighties, after completing a project with First Nations students in Mine Centre, he was drawn to the joys of working with children and spent the next decade doing so. Although Rodney continued to write and perform his own material, working with children and schools meant a hiatus from touring and time to spend with his growing family. It also meant releasing 3 highly successful children’s albums – Wishes, Dreams & Giants(1989), and We Have a Song to Sing(1993) and Merry Christmas To You[1998].

Rodney’s CD Into the Woods [2001] marked a return to the national folk music circuit. While touring with the Northern Roots Band and Ian Tamblyn Rodney began researching early stories of his hometown’s namesake William McGillivray and The Big Lonely CD was born. His historical songs about the Canadian fur trade have taken him across Canada, the Upper American mid west and to the UK for Witney’s, Journey of a Blanket Project. His songs gained even more international recognition after a performance for CBC’s, Vinyl CafĂ© with host Stuart McLean.

In 2008 Rodney performed his historical ballads with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. The Big Lonely Show with the TBSO opened to standing ovations and the beautifully orchestrated songs were recorded on Rodney’s 2012 CD Songs of Fort William with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.

www.rodneybrown.ca

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