Personnel: Greg Brown (vocals, guitar); David Williams (guitar, banjo, mandolin); Al Murphy (fiddle); Dave Moore (harmonica); Dave Tippett (trumpet); Dave Hansen (bass); Mike Watts, John Welstead (drums).
Personnel: Greg Brown (vocals, guitar); David Williams (guitar, banjo, mandolin); Al Murphy (fiddle); Dave Moore (harmonica); John Welstead, Mike Watts (drums).
Audio Mixer: John Welstead.
Liner Note Author: Greg Brown.
Photographers: Jerome Goedkin; Steven Henke.
Though he eventually became a master of dark, bluesy songwriting that would earn him such titles as "the Midwestern Leonard Cohen," Greg Brown started out in a much folkier mode. IOWA WALTZ is something of a concept album centered on the rural Iowa landscape that was his breeding ground. The sarcasm and grittiness of his later albums is absent here; Brown sticks to more traditional folk forms and acoustic frameworks to tell his tales of a country life that was already close to extinction at the time of this recording.
Brown displays the influence of Mississippi John Hurt in his casual folk-blues fingerpicking and easy, friendly singing style, Woody Guthrie in his painstakingly detailed accounts of farm folks' lives, and Jimmie Rodgers in his jazz/blues-tinged take on country--the latter most obviously in "The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home." Dave Moore's bluesy harmonica and Al Murphy's country fiddling add spice, but it's Brown's sheer amiability and charismatic vocal presence that carry things along. The sound quality here is less than stellar, but that just adds to IOWA WALTZ's already anachronistic ambience.