The week after Clinton Kirby Brown turned 21, he moved to Dallas to pursue a career in music.
In just a couple of weeks, the 2006 Sulphur Springs High School graduate turns 25. This time, the grandson of Davis Street Baptist Church Pastor Emeritus Tommy Hall and his wife, Glenda, will be moving to the Big Apple.
“I love New York,” he said during a phone interview Tuesday. “It's a place of great opportunities. People are encouraging me to move up there.”
The timing seems right.
“I've got a record that's already done,” he explained. “I have some other songs that are ready to be recorded. It's the same kind of artistic move that Bob Dylan made from Minnesota to New York City.”
For the time being, Brown will be living in Brooklyn, the city's new “artistic Mecca,” while performing gigs and getting his music in front of the public.
While he's been in Dallas, the young performer, who is professionally known as Kirby Brown, has been a tour manager for a rock and roll band, wrote and recorded an album, “Child of Calamity,” toured from Seattle to New York and back and, in April, was the opening act of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell.
“It was very, very cool,” Brown said of his co-billing with the iconic Russell. “I got to meet him briefly. He told stories about Joe Cocker and other artists he had performed with.”
Brown puts Russell on a list of musical influences that also includes Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, John Prine, Jackson Browne and Townes Van Zandt.
Up and coming musicians, especially ones from Texas, know Townes Van Zandt's story. He was a Fort Worth boy who chose the rough and tumble life of a troubadour over his privileged upbringing. He died on New Year's Day in 1997 of substance abuse. His life and legacy have become legend.
Brown's favorite Van Zandt songs are “Loretta” and “I'll Be Here in the Morning,” which he sang over the phone line, and then related a recent story about Townes.
“I was up in New York in July, hanging out with all these really cool rock and rollers,” he noted. “Guys that know the back catalog of all the 1960s artists. I played [Townes'] 'White Freightliner Blues,' and they all went, 'Aw, man, who is that?'”
Brown, the son of Paul Kirby Brown of Emory and Gregg and Kathy Carpenter of Mount Pleasant, quickly gave his colleagues a lesson on Van Zandt.
“I told them, 'This is our patron saint of songwriting in Texas,'” he said. “He is so significant. He's like Paul Bunyan. He's like this god that lived, but did he float along or did he walk the earth?”
If Brown, who performed in high school productions of “Charlotte's Web” and “A Midsummer's Night Dream,” has it his way, a week or so after his 30th birthday, he'll still be writing songs, but hopes to be performing his music on a much larger scale.
“Whether I'm on tour bus level or private jet level, I don't know,” he admitted, “But that's where I want to be.”
Brown is giving a farewell concert on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Prophet Bar at 2548 Elm St. in Dallas. He'll be joined by Larry g(EE) and the Quaker City Nighthawks. Brown's part of the show begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are general admission and are $10.
For more information on Kirby Brown and to order the record, “Child of Calamity,” visit www.kirbybrownmusic.com, his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter @kirby_brown.
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