Randy Branch writes songs that are gritty and the lyrics are about things the average person can relate to. This makes for a good combination when you add his baritone voice. Randy has been playing music professionally since the 60s, so he is no stranger to the stage and that shows the minute he sets foot on it. In the late seventies and early eighties his band “Oakley Hill” was popular on college campuses around the southern region. They opened for such bands as Hank WIlliams, Jr - Alabama - Ricky Skaggs - Guy Clark - Johnny Paycheck and Steve Young.
Randy’s music is laying in the genre of Country, but he touches the borders of other styles, such as Blues and possibly Folk. Look him up "Randy Branch Music" and check him out.
He started the show last night with the title song to his latest release, “Long Black Car”, yes it makes references to a hearse (something we all may find ourselves in one day), but he says even with that picture in our minds, this song is about LIVING.
Randy plays guitar well and also harmonica. His second offering was one called COD Blues. As the evening progressed he shared a song he sang a few years back at his father’s funeral…I believe it was called “Walk with Jesus” (Or walk with me Jesus). Regardless of the title, it was a tear creator and a heart toucher of a song.
Another heart tugging song was “Johnny lost his Paycheck”. It told the story of a hard working man with a family that got laid off from his job after 20 years and was searching for a way to support his family until he could be stable again. Great story in this song. The title of this one sort of refers to the famous musician, Johnny Paycheck (that one did not get lost on me).
Randy has been in the business a long time and he still has the “it” factor!
Brooke Brown is a delightful young lady from Lenox, Alabama and proud of it. She is not only a very skilled wordsmith as she writes her lyrics, she delivers them perfectly AND her banter between the songs; her stories about the songs, and her smile made her the Entertainer of the Evening for me! She plays a red guitar that catches your eye, there are names autographed in a couple of places. I imagined it was somebody really big in the music industry…like Bonnie Raitt or maybe Linda Ronstadt…(I’m just imagining who it could be, then it could be her sister, I don't know).
Her first song was inspired when she was sitting in a bar in Pensacola. It was a place called Seville Quarter. A few guys were sitting nearby …she had ascertained that one of the guys’ name was Johnny.
Then a cute young lady (much younger than Johnny) walked in and one of the other guys said, “She is the one who got all of Johnny’s Cash!” Immediately Brooke said…”Now that sounds perfect for a song…so she wrote “Johnny’s Cash”. It was great.
Next Brooke compared a broken relationship she had to a BAD TATTOO. In it she tells the story of once being proud to claim him, but now she is ashamed of him, like a bad tattoo. Her lyrics “you get what ya pay for, sometimes you pay for what you get!”…”You ain’t nothing but a bad tattoo”. She crafted her words cleverly and I loved it. Before she began this song she told the story of seeing a 14 year old girl who had a tattoo very low on her backside; it was a cupcake with a bite taken out of it. The words “Eat Me” were printed above it!
Brooke said, “now she was only 14, so her mother must have paid for this…”…(she shook her head still in disbelief.)
Brooke went on to sing several more…all of which were awesome to me. “I should be sleeping next to you” (she called this one her sad song)…. (I LOVED it and this one too) “I aint’ puttin’ up with you no more!” It says “Here’s your hat and there’s the door, I ain’t puttin’ up with you no more!”
She told the story of being inspired by a child at Bienville Square as she sat , perhaps looking for inspiration for a new song. The child tossed coins in the fountain. Brooke said, “I didn’t know kids still did that!” “I thought they just played with their phones and iPads!” Then she remembered when she was 5 and her mom gave her some change, and said “make a wish and toss these in the fountain.” For her it was like magic….She wrote a song titled “Tossing Pennies”…. she said now she is 25 and still tossing pennies. Yes, for a child, tossing the coins into the water is fun, but making that wish is the magic part….this line from the song grabbed me “Its amazing what a little faith can do!” (faith in those wishes)
You may have noticed I am now a Brooke Brown FAN…you should be one too!
Even though he is local and even though I have seen him in The Listening Room quite a few times, I had never seen him on the stage….the 3rd entertainer of the night was Dr. Tom Leytham. He is a doctor by trade (an internist) but he is a musician in his heart. His first song was one he made into a sing-along, titled “I Don’t Have Enough Guitars!”
I can tell you, being the mother of a professional musician….they never do. Tom surprised me with this song as he invited us to join him with the chorus…”I don’t have enough guitars”…so we took him up on the invitation.
My favorite of his was “Ballad of The West Texas Baptist Church South of Odessa, Texas”….It actually told a life story of growing up in that congregation, marrying in the church and attending your wife’s funeral there as well. It was poignant and emotional.
Next he played “I cried my heart out”. It too was emotional.
His song “One Hit Wonder” was a little more uplifting.
Also Tom played a song that I did not catch the title but I believe it was simply named “This”. It was the story of a father and son relationship and if given a choice of all the things in life they really want…they would both say “THIS” (this meaning their time together).
I believe it was his final song Tom played one called “Dubious Distinction.
Another song “Tres Capos” was played on an magnificent guitar…it was beautiful and he had 3 capos on it…I’ve never seen that before! A couple of capos were glittered out to the max.
I would really like to know just how many guitars Tom Leytham has…yet he still don’t have enough guitars!
Thank you also to Buddy Barnes who came with Brooke Brown. He played back up guitar to all three artists and he really made a difference! Buddy knows how to make his guitar blend and then jump out and fill-in where it is needed. This young man did an excellent job and he supported and lifted all three musicians to a higher level. Thank you Buddy Barnes and thank you Brooke for bringing him.
Thanks to the performers (all 4 of them)
Thanks to Jim Pennington and The Listening Room of Mobile
Thanks to the fabulous audience (many of which I had never seen)
Thank you most of all to my friend Melissa Summersell for sitting at my table!