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Craig Brown’s musical career is a feel-good story for people who hate feel-good stories



The name Craig Brown should be familiar to discerning garage punks. Making his name in bands like Terrible Twos, King Tuff and Liquor Store, the Detroit rock & roller has a new group – the Craig Brown Band – and things are pretty swimmingly. The band is currently touring with country legend Dwight Yoakam behind a new album, The Lonely Ones Forget, released on Jack White's singular Third Man Records. This Monday, though, the Craig Brown Band will be returning to their roots with a pit stop at Uncle Lou's. "A lot of people call us a country band," Brown helpfully notes. A lot more people will be throwing superlatives their way soon enough.

Orlando Weekly: Who is the Craig Brown Band and what brings you down to Orlando?

Craig Brown: I'm Craig Brown. The band is Andrew Hecker, Eric Allen, Jeff Perry, Bonnie and Caitlin Drinkard of the Drinkard Sisters. We got asked to open shows for Dwight Yoakam. ... One of them is in Naples. We're from Detroit, and the shows are far from us ... so, we're filling in the gaps on our own across the nation.

Your new music is pretty different from Liquor Store and Terrible Twos. What influenced you for this project?

I've been playing twangy guitar since I was 20, and I am now 33. None of this is really new to me at all. A specific record that made me delve into stuff – like Craig Jones and Conway Twitty – was the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo. It's a top 5 album of mine.

How did you get to be an opener for Dwight Yoakam?

It was a really weird situation. I was out in Los Angeles and I was doing a show with two of my friends at this small club. ... Dwight Yoakam happened to be there, and caught the last two songs of the set. He ended up coming up to me. I felt this arm around me and ... It was Dwight Yoakam and he starts going, "Hey man, I really liked your song! it was a great song! It was a really cool song!" and I am just sitting here having a conversation with Dwight Yoakam, which is crazy, because he's one of my heroes. Anyways, he did a single for Third Man, and I was like, "Hey, if you ever need an opener, just call Jack [White, Third Man head]." And he goes, "Ah, screw that! David's here, he's my office manager! I'll just have you talk to him ... You'll be my Midwest guy!" ... Four days later, I got a call from that guy.

He goes, "So, Dwight wants you to open shows in the Midwest. The problem is he already went through the Midwest, but he tours constantly, so plan on the next three months to a year, you'll be the guy out there." So, the next day he calls and asks us if we can open a show in Texas, and I said yes immediately, and when we did they added four more shows nowhere near the Midwest. So, we've turned these five shows into little jaunts where we drive really far. It's weird being an opener, haha.

So, coming from a punk background, what's changed now that you're playing bigger shows and signed to Third Man?

It's cool that there are built-in fans of the label, which is very cool and supportive. What's kinda weird is that I'm still booking shows myself. That's been some of the struggle, and I have been hitting up old friends like Rich [Evans, Total Punk head] in all these towns I've toured in. So, up until recently we've been playing shows with punk bands. It sometimes works, it sometimes doesn't. Jack [White] had the idea for one of our first shows to open for Negative Approach. It was really cool, and they made shirts of it that said, "Craig Brown Band and Negative Approach" ... but not in that order. ... It's cool because this band can tap into all kinds of stuff.

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