Friday, March 20, 2009

RIP Mel Brown

It is with a very heavy heart that I must note the passing of an unsung giant of the music world. Mel Brown spent his life playing with the style and easy grace that endeared him to audiences around the world. For the last decade or two Mel and his lovely partner Miss Angel have been true pillars of the music scene here in Kitchener and Waterloo. Hailing from Jackson, Mississippi Mel had a heart as big as his adopted homeland and he shared the wealth of his love and knowledge of the blues and jazz with a couple of generations of local players who are all the better for his mentoring. When he started his stint fronting the house band at Pop the Gator, a seminal local blues club, it was as though this little cracker city had discovered a secret treasure. Mel became a touchstone and standard for players from throughout the region. I got to know Mel when he was laying down tracks at Threshold Sound, my friend and producer Ron had helped record Mel's live album and they were working on Miss Angel's album. At that time I lived upstairs and shared the house with Ron and the studio and was privileged to hang out while they worked. I gave Mel his first computer when I upgraded and spent a hilarious afternoon trying to get him sorted out with the internet. I'll never forget the warmth of his smile, the depth of his drawl or the way a chuckle seemed to be just at the end of every sentence. Mel's health had been declining over the last few years but he never stopped playing and his influence and his love of music will live on in a lot of hearts that are just a little sadder tonight.

Thanks Mel, for all that you gave us. It isn't hyperbole to say that this town loved you man and we'll miss you but you won't be forgotten. Peace.


Jim (Progressive Right) said...

This is very sad. I remember catching Mel Brown at Pop the Gator many years ago.

RIP, Mel.

Steve V said...

I remember he used to have an open jam night as well, which was great fun. I actually don't remember going to the club, unless it was with the expressed purpose of seeing Mel Brown. He was a genuine treasure, the real deal.