Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown was a versatile and crowd-pleasing entertainer throughout his long career, but it's easy to overlook just how explosive a guitarist he was, and his style mixed an elegant, jazzy tone with a rough rustic edge, and the same could be said of his fiddle playing, or Brown on any of the other instruments he played, from mandolin to harmonica to piano.
Brown pretty much invented his own bayou-tinged and jazzy Texas swing style, and if it centered on the blues, it didn't always.
Brown was a maverick musician, with a raconteur's attitude and talent to burn, whether he was playing blues, jazz, honky tonk, Cajun, R&B, funk, or one his own wild fiddle breakdowns, and he kept at it all the way through to his death in 2005 at the age of 81.
There was no one quite like him.
This CD/DVD set presents a live show Brown did for the Austin City Limits TV series in 1996, the last of his four appearances on the show, and it makes for both a fine farewell and a well-recorded introduction to this one-of-a-kind musician.
Brown commands the stage with personality and vigor, bringing a funky sway to "Born in Louisiana," big-band jazz to "Bits and Pieces," and gloriously ragged fiddle to "Up Jumped the Devil," with his signature guitar leads scattered all through.
Granted, this is Brown reined in just a bit because of the various restraints of television, but it still documents an American treasure doing what he always did, delivering a show like no one else's, a literal tour of American music by a wonderfully unique musician.