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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

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In Music

Brazzaville's David Brown comes to Milwaukee


There are many ways to describe David Brown: talented musician, world traveler, motivated activist, modern-day vagabond.

If you ask Brown himself, however, he'll tell you that he's probably best described as a "self-taught human being."

"I grew up in many different homes and got many different views on things as a child," he says. "I had to improvise a lot because I never really got the skinny on how to do things when I was a kid."

Now, as an adult and as a musician, he's harnessed that learn-on-the-go lifestyle within the notes of his songs. His music is decidedly accessible, but within it lie several intriguing layers of smooth, jazzy mood mingling with a melancholy that comes off as both modest and sexy.

Although some may recognize his name from the time he spent playing saxophone for Beck, Brown is probably best known for his Barcelona-based band Brazzaville.

For Brown, improvisation came at early on -- both within his music and within his lifestyle -- and as a result, his songs emit freshness, though do not exclude a certain familiarity.

"I just try to write pop songs and they come out a little funny," he says. "It's hard to describe the style to people because it doesn't really fit well anywhere."

But as "Welcome to Brazzaville" -- a 2004 compilation of Brown's first three full-length albums -- plays out and the poetry fills the room like a warm summer breeze, it seems to fit perfectly with a glass of red wine, and "funny" is hardly the adjective that comes to mind.

In 2003 the Los Angeles native ditched the States and took up residency in Spain, although he's continued his tradition of traveling and collecting experiences that eventually find their way into his music.

A series of upcoming non-traditional ventures will find Brown and Brazzaville aboard a medium-sized cargo vessel running primarily on vegetable oil for a tour of the world's ports, a ship bound for a journey down the Volga River and, hopefully, a Trans-Siberian railway. These tours, he says, are moves in the direction of a different touring model where the musicians and crew can unpack their bags at the beginning of the tour and not pack them again until the end.

Before all this, however, Brown embarks on a three-gig mini tour of the States with two shows in California and, thanks to WMSE and Rush-Mor Records, one here in Milwaukee. On Thursday, April 5, local musicians Joe Wong (Noisola) and Todd Richards (Recycled Future) join Brown on stage for a show at the Cactus Club.


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