I put off writing this review for several weeks so that I had the excuse to listen to Just Kiddin' Around - Music For Old Goats" over and over again. This deliberately nostalgic album from veteran Colorado entertainer Roz Brown has so much appeal that I felt as though it might have been custom-made for my enjoyment.
Beautiful music of all kinds can be played on, or accompanied by, the autoharp and Roz, with his wide range of recorded material, has exemplified that fact as well as anyone. Here, he is supported by an aggregation of talented backup musicians and vocalists, which is somewhat of a change-of-pace for someone who is primarily a solo performer. Perhaps Roz will be able to recreate this carefully textured and layered production job onstage through the use of electronic wizardry?
The selections on this well-conceived and well-executed album are:
Grandfather's Clock; When It's Springtime in the Rockies; Red Wing; My Wild
Irish Rose; Rocking Alone in An Old Rocking Chair; Silver Threads Among the
Gold; Mockingbird Hill; There is a Tavern in the Town; Relieve Me If All Those
Endearing Young Charms; Little Green Valley; That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine;
When You and I Were Young Maqqie; Moonlight on the River Colorado; Daisy A
Roz's musicianship on his sweet-sounding diatonic autoharps is up to his usual high standard, but it plays a secondary role to the album's fourteen vocal offerings. He performs these songs in a relaxed, ingratiating manner, singing each of the "golden oldies" with a style that weaves tenderness into all the appropriate places.
There are some autoharp and accordion unison parts interspersed through-out the project that I would classify as standouts. Also worthy of remark is the effective blending of Daniel Jones' steel guitar against Roz's autoharp. It's a combination that I wouldn't have given consideration to, but certainly enjoyed. Fiddler Ron Jones, in keeping with the repertoire at hand, played his instrument more as if he were part of a symphony than a hoedown. I appreciated his good judgment and taste.
Picking a favorite from a recording that doesn't contain a single bad cut is never easy, but I'm going to have to go with "There Is A Tavern in the Town." For some reason, I had always avoided this number, thinking it was a drinking song when, in actuality, it is a sadly beautiful saga of unrequited love. And how did I never before really hear the line, "Hang my harp on a weeping tree." which has its origin in the Old Testament? The vocal arrange-ment and harmonies on this cut are particularly noteworthy, as are Roz's autoharp breaks. Tie uses a lot of thumb runs and other strums in his playing, much like David Morris, and it's a style that I find very fitting for slower tunes and songs.
Just Kiddin' Around - "Music For Old Goats" is a worthy companion to Roz's previous recordings. It is available on cassette only for $8.00 plus $2.00 for shipping and handling. Send orders to Roz Brown, do Echo Lake Productions, P.O. Box 150518, Lakewood, CO 80215. Roz was the subject of AC's July 1993 cover story. I refer you to that issue for a complete discography. (Photo-copies of previous articles available upon request to those new to our reader-ship.)
AUTOHARP QUARTERLY April 94
Just Kiddin' Around -Music for Old Goats
Autoharp: Roz Brown c/o Echo Lake Productions PO Box 150518 Lakewood, CO 80215
Grandfather's Clock. When It's Spring-time in the Rockies . Red Wing . My Wild Irish Rose . Rockin 'A lone in an Old Rocking Chair . Silver Threads Among the Gold. Mockingbird Hill There is a Tavern in the Town. Believe Me if all Those Endearing Young Charms. Little Green Valley That Sil-ver Haired Daddy of Mine. Maggie. Moonlight on the River Colorado. Daisy A Day
Roz Brown is a minister of good vibes and portrays a wide spectrum of feelings in his collection of songs from across the ages. Many of these songs are familiar, some are new to me, and all are sung sprightly and lively by Roz and sev-eral helpers on the mike. As I've noted in other reviews in this column, it's good to hear the words for some of those tunes we pound out instrumentally in jam after jam ("Red Wing," "Mockingbird Hill").
Roz backs himself up on all cuts with the autoharp playing very tasteful harmony and melody beside his voice. Accompaniment is provided by nine other musicians on instruments ranging
from pennywhistle to cello, from pedal steel guitar to accordion. The balance is excellent, with center stage always prominently focused on Roz and his 'harp. Everything else peeks out at just the right time. It's a very professional sounding job.
Roz has some liner notes that convey his notion of nostalgia permeating this tape. How true - six of the fourteen cuts are from the 1800s,as far back as 1808, and only one song was written after 1950. Well, Roz it works. While listen-ing to the tape and writing this review, my wife spontaneously belted out the words to "There is a Tavern in the Town" saying "Yeah, that's from Mitch Miller." She then said, "This 'Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms' is one of those songs I used to sing in the closet!"
All in all, this is a relaxing, pleasant tape that asks you to sit back in the rock-ing chair, close your eyes, hum along to some classics and be transported back to other years, other times.
P.S. Who are you callin' an "Old Goat," Roz? I'm still thinkin' of my wife as a spring chicken...
WVA Occasional 7/94
Roz Brown Just Kiddin' Around "Music for Old Goats" (High Echo Lake Productions, 14 selections)
What do you get when you put an amazing character named Roz together with an autoharp, a handful of mus-icians, and a wagon load of familiar songs written between 1866 and 1975? A recording titled "Just Kiddin' Around 'Music for Old Goats." Roz calls this his nostalgia album and notes that the memories stirred by these tunes often draw a smile and a tear, simutaneously. "My Wild Irish Rose (1899)," "Red Wing (1907)," "There is a Tavern in the Town (1881)," "That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine (1931)," "Mockingbird Hill (1949)," and many more.
Join Roz for a most enjoyable musical stroll down memory lane.