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Thread: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

  1. #1

    Default How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Back a long time ago I played banjo for Don Brown, out of eastern Missouri. I'm trying to figure out what kind of Gibson mandolin he played (I thought it was a Loar) and what happened to it?

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  3. #2
    Spencer Sorenson Spencer's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    I don't know what happened to the mandolin, I saw it when he played at a festival in Knoxville, IL in 1971 or 2. I don't think it was a Loar, but I seem to recall it having a real fancy back. I also seem to recall somebody saying that it was specially made for him. But that was a long time ago and before I got interested in mandolin playing, so that may not be correct. Was it him that used to put talcum powder on the neck, or am I confusing him with someone else?

    Spencer

  4. #3

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    I don't remember about the talcum powder, but then again I was young and didn't pay attention to it. But I'm sure you're talking of the same man, because he always played in Gilson, IL for Oliver Smith's Harmony Pines festival which is like a stones throw from Knoxville, IL.

    That's very interesting, that it was made for him. A friend of mine tried setting up the action lower so you could actually play it, but he preferred really high action. Don was a great man, a big Monroe fan. He used to tell me stories of him and Jimmy Martin and Bill Monroe.

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    Spencer Sorenson Spencer's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Your post got me to thinking, and I dug out a CD I made from a cassette of one of Don's albums. Not the best quality, but listening to the mandolin, I don't think its a Loar. I had a couple Gibsons, a 1950's F-12 and an 70's F-5, and the tone reminds me of them, though his playing has something to do with that. I also recall that it looked pretty new.

    Yes, it was Oliver's Festival, we overnighted in the back of my buddy's pickup truck. I believe Gordon Wilfong was playing banjo with a band from Missouri, with a lady or two in the band. Those were the days!!

    Spencer

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    I remember Don Brown of the Ozark Mtn. Trio with John Hartford and Norman Ford having a Feb 18, 1924 Loar. And I recall he had other Gibsons like a 50's F12. It's been a long time since I've even heard his name but I do remember him dying of a heart attack in 2002. My guess is the family still has the Loar.

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    Spencer Sorenson Spencer's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Now I'm really getting curious. All of this should be noted with reservation, since this was before I was playing much mandolin, and not paying the greatest attention to mandolins at the time (about 1972). Memory is a funny thing, I once read a whole book again to find a quote that I was sure came from it. It wasn't there.

    But I always remembered the mandolin the Don Brown played at that festival, I can still see him standing there playing it. From that time, the only mandolins that I can still remember making an impression on me were Monroe's - because of the sound, a Loar somebody played one night at Bean Blossom - again a fantastic sound, and Don's, this time because of the look. I went through all the Feb 18 24 pictures on the archives to see if they could jog my memory. What I seem to recall most, was the back. The pictures were all over the map, but the ones that come closest to my faded recollection were Loar's own, or the pair 75329 and 9. I recall it having a very figured back, and a kind of "black" look, if that makes any sense.

    I'll listen to the recording again (Tall Pines, 1972), but the tone on many numbers at first listen seems too thin for a Loar, but there was one number with a pretty good sounding tremolo. It doesn't make any sense for somebody to have a Loar and record with a 50's Gibson does it?

    Somewhere I have a copy of a couple numbers from The Ozark Mtn Trio with John Hartford. Have to start looking for that too now.

    here's a link to a message about his passing in 2002: http://www.schenkphotography.com/joh...gesc/1153.html

    Spencer
    Last edited by Spencer; Jan-28-2013 at 6:01am. Reason: Updates

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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Feb 18, 24 Loar #75321
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
    www.f5journal.com

  9. #8

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darryl Wolfe View Post
    Feb 18, 24 Loar #75321
    Thanks Darryl.
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    "I'm a farmer with a mandolin and a high tenor voice." Bill Monroe

  10. #9

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spencer View Post
    Now I'm really getting curious. All of this should be noted with reservation, since this was before I was playing much mandolin, and not paying the greatest attention to mandolins at the time (about 1972). Memory is a funny thing, I once read a whole book again to find a quote that I was sure came from it. It wasn't there.

    But I always remembered the mandolin the Don Brown played at that festival, I can still see him standing there playing it. From that time, the only mandolins that I can still remember making an impression on me were Monroe's - because of the sound, a Loar somebody played one night at Bean Blossom - again a fantastic sound, and Don's, this time because of the look. I went through all the Feb 18 24 pictures on the archives to see if they could jog my memory. What I seem to recall most, was the back. The pictures were all over the map, but the ones that come closest to my faded recollection were Loar's own, or the pair 75329 and 9. I recall it having a very figured back, and a kind of "black" look, if that makes any sense.

    I'll listen to the recording again (Tall Pines, 1972), but the tone on many numbers at first listen seems too thin for a Loar, but there was one number with a pretty good sounding tremolo. It doesn't make any sense for somebody to have a Loar and record with a 50's Gibson does it?

    Somewhere I have a copy of a couple numbers from The Ozark Mtn Trio with John Hartford. Have to start looking for that too now.

    here's a link to a message about his passing in 2002: http://www.schenkphotography.com/joh...gesc/1153.html

    Spencer
    Thanks Spencer for the link and information.
    Custom Ratliff RA-5
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    Martin guitar DM

    "I'm a farmer with a mandolin and a high tenor voice." Bill Monroe

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    Registered User shawnee creek's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Don Brown did have a '24 Loar. His nephew is Jerry Rosa who builds mandolins near Rolla, Mo. Jerry's and Allen Jones Glenn mandolins are spec'd from Don's mandolin. After Don's death Frank Ray became it's owner.

  12. #11

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Quote Originally Posted by shawnee creek View Post
    Don Brown did have a '24 Loar. His nephew is Jerry Rosa who builds mandolins near Rolla, Mo. Jerry's and Allen Jones Glenn mandolins are spec'd from Don's mandolin. After Don's death Frank Ray became it's owner.
    I thought maybe Frank Ray owned it now, but I wasn't sure. Thanks so much.
    Custom Ratliff RA-5
    KM-160 Kentucky
    Custom First Quality style 5-string banjo with Yates tonering
    Martin guitar DM

    "I'm a farmer with a mandolin and a high tenor voice." Bill Monroe

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Didn't take long to solve this Loar mystery. I knew along Frank had it and the serial no. but didn't want to say without his permission. I hope you got his permission to say it here. Loar owners can sometimes be quirky about their ownership and whereabouts.

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  15. #13

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    I do have the Don Brown, Beautiful Memories album, and he gets a very nice mandolin tone on that one. It's easy to imagine that he picked up some of his style from Jimmy Martin, as well as Monroe, of course.

    And here's a funny story. A while back, Michael Daves started performing a fantastic song called The Dirt That You Throw. He'd learned it from some friends in his home state of Georgia, but it seemed no one was sure of the composer. Someone thought it had been written by Bessie Lee Mauldin. And we knew it had been recorded by Delia Bell. Well a little digging eventually led me to Don Brown, who I believe is the songwriter, even though it's an unusual bluegrass song that seems to be from the woman's perspective.

    Anyway, it's about as obscure as a BG song can be but because of this video, you'll often hear folks call it out when Michael is performing with Chris Thile or Trischka or doing a solo show. I don't blame them. It's a great song.

    BradKlein
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  16. #14

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandojoy View Post
    Back a long time ago I played banjo for Don Brown, out of eastern Missouri. I'm trying to figure out what kind of Gibson mandolin he played (I thought it was a Loar) and what happened to it?
    I played Guitar and Bass and sang tenor for Don Brown and The Ozark Mountain Trio in 1974 and 75. Don had obtained his Loar several years prior to that time. It was in excellent condition back then. We played Oliver Smith's festival both of those years. At that time, Oliver's festival was held at the fairgrounds at Knoxville ,Illinois. When we did a show and Don was busy visiting with fans, I would get his Loar out of the case and tune it up for him. Of course I would always play a couple of tunes on it. One time as I was tuning it up, I noticed a hairline crack on one of the "A" strings over the bridge. I brought it to Don's attention and he said he thought it would be okay but it broke in the middle of the set. That didn't faze Don because he played pretty agressively and broke strings regularly. He was used to it. Don still had his Loar until he passed away.

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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    In the mandozine interview, Charlie Derrington names his favorite 5 Loars and mentions, "The former Don Brown Loar that now belongs to Frank Ray. That thing is phenominal." Which one might that be?

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    It should be the Feb 18, 24 Loar that belonged to Don. It's close in number to the famous John Reishman Loar. What were the other 4 Loars Charlie named and what was the date of the interview?

  20. #17

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    One of the other Loars named was the one owned by Lonnie Porchie. I have played it several times since the early 70's. Lonnie told me where it was before he passed away a couple years ago.

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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Sorry to read of Lonnie's passing here. A nice, gentle man if ever there was one.

  22. #19

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Hi Zane. Did you record with Don Brown? I wonder if you performed, or have any insights into the song that I mention above? And welcome to the Cafe!
    BradKlein
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  23. #20

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    It should be the Feb 18, 24 Loar that belonged to Don. It's close in number to the famous John Reishman Loar. What were the other 4 Loars Charlie named and what was the date of the interview?
    The Feb 18, 1924 batch certainly has some impressive admirers. Loar himself, John Paul Jones, Chris Thile, John Reischman, and the Don Brown instrument. All of which leads me to trademark my coinage: 'Feb 18 is the new July 9'. It may be my only lasting legacy here at the Cafe, however I generously have decided NOT to bring suit against any Cafe members in good standing who choose to share this observation. (Glassweb, I'm looking at you)

    In all seriousness, I am one of many who are fascinated by the Loar F-5s, and always excited when I get to play one. There are a handful of people who have thoughtfully played scores of these instruments, and I defer to their opinions regarding the relative qualities of different signature dates.
    BradKlein
    Senior Producer, Twangbox
    Twangbox Videos

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  25. #21

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    I worked with Don at the GM plant in Wentzville, MO. By the luck of the draw, I was put on the same team in the paint dept. with him. I had a passing interest in bluegrass at the time and Don ignited it. I usually listened to rock on the radio and Don would walk by and say "Joe, why do you listen to that ***t." I played his Loar a few times, the first time, when it needed a set up very badly, it wasn't too impressive, and then later, after he had it worked on, it was a totally different instrument. It was the first Loar I ever played and the first time I didn't see what was supposed to be so great about it, the times after that it was absolutely killer.
    Don was a really good guy, and a lot of fun to work with. He helped fill the void when my Dad died unexpectedly, he was a good friend. He taught me Liberty, the first tune I learned on mandolin. I brought the first mandolin I built to work & he would play it and show me stuff. I rode with him to several gigs, and the first time I met Bill Monroe was with Don. I cried when he died, he was a good friend & I still miss him.

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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    F5, here's what ole Charlie said in that "Mandozine" interview (http://www.mandozine.com/resources/CGOW/derrington.php) answering Q22:

    Whew!! Five best Loars, huh? That's a tough one.

    OK

    Grisman's 22 (I don't like most 22s and early 23s as they are mostly quartered backs and tend to be a little bright for my ear. Grisman's sounds like the best 23 to my ear).

    Aubrey Haynie's unsigned 25. It's a real cannon. Bass, mids, trebles...Whatever you want, its got it.

    My former July 9. Very heavy mids. Drives banjo players nutty. Cuts like a knife.

    The former Don Brown Loar that now belongs to Frank Ray. That thing is phenominal.

    Lonnie Porchie's Dec.11

    Yes, I have played that one and John's Loar is definately among the top ten, but (John, this is personal opinion and we're definately batting at knats as any comparison like this is really getting into minutia) is a little heavy on the bass side. Remember, my personal taste falls to the mid-range.

  28. #23
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Let's not forget the Feb 18th batch was also a batch loaded up with some 20+ Virzis in the batch. And they were not known for having good sound if they had that date with a Virzi. Many were removed as a result. In all fairness you probably got killer ones in each of the signed dates. Such as the Lonnie Porchie Loar was a Dec. 11,'23. The Grisman "Crusher" is a Dec. 20,'22. The David McLaughlin a May 29, '23, the William Place,Jr. Loar was a June 13, '23, The Dave Apollon from the April 25, '23, The Tony Williamson's No. 1 Loar is a March 31, '24, and the one that seems to shine out as best of batch was the Bill Monroe, July 9 '23. If I had to add one that many have not played nor seen it would be the No. 1 Loar, the June 1, '22. I'm sure I've left out other dates that had super good ones in them.

  29. #24

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    Hi Zane. Did you record with Don Brown? I wonder if you performed, or have any insights into the song that I mention above? And welcome to the Cafe!
    Yes, I recorded a Gospel album with Don Brown called " The Way Is Narrow" . I think it was in 1975, my last year with Don.
    The song you mentioned, "The Dirt That You Throw" was on Don's "Tall Pines" Album.The songwriters credit on the album lists Damon Black as the writer, who also wrote the title song "Tall Pines". Damon Black was from Bonne Terre, Mo. on Hiway 67 south of St. Louis. Don recorded the "Beautiful Memories" album with his sons, several years after I left the band.

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  31. #25

    Default Re: How many of you knew or knew of Don Brown?

    I have the "Beautiful Memories" LP, I had a copy of "Tall Pines" that Don gave me and also a cassette of an album called the Missouri Sessions, that Don was on with a whole bunch of other Missouri musicians. If anyone has digital copies of those I would love to listen to them again, please let me know.
    Don's three sons Donny, Dennis & Danny were the Ozark Mountain Trio on the Beautiful Memories LP. They are all excellent musicians too. Don was strictly into Bill Monroe & straight ahead hardcore bluegrass. Denny, on the other hand, was into progressive stuff and he turned me onto the Seldom Scene, Tony Rice, Newgrass Revival among others. Denny works at the GM plant & he brought in all sorts of eye opening bluegrass for me to hear.

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