David Rhodes Brown came to his love of music naturally. His grandfather, Thomas Findlay Brown, was a self taught award winning violinist at the country fairs around Litchfield County KY, where he was a tenant farmer. His father, John Edmund Brown, played keyboards, piano and organ, sang in church choirs and performed with a black faced minstrel group.
David started singing in public as a choir boy, absconded his sister's guitar to learn a couple notes (it only had 2 strings) and then started his first band, 'The Weejuns', when still in junior high school. The Weejuns were a sock hop band, playing covers of popular hits at school functions and dances. David quips, “I was singing 'I Ain't Got No Satisfaction' before I even knew what it was!”
In 1968 David took his mother's advise and joined the Navy. It was the height of the Vietnam War, and he would have been drafted regardless. It was there David bought his first guitar and taught himself the basic chords, much, he says, to the chagrin of his bunkmates. As a lanky 6' 6” teenager with athletic experience, the Navy saw fit to add him to it's basketball team, where after a short career, he injured his knee, and was medically discharged. David brought his limp, his guitar and his desire to perform back to Cincinnati and formed a band called 'Woebegone' with friend Victor Harrison. Woebegone performed original material and broke attendance records at Leo's Coffee House for the season they performed there. Old cassette recordings of the group are still cropping up and being turned into digital format. In 1973 the band added Mark Rasmussen and Tom Schneider and changed it's name to '40 Fingers', playing a sort of bohemian folk rock that also broke attendance records at Leo's Coffee House.
The late 70's brought the inevitable change of genre to popular music. David formed a punk rock band called 'The Attitude' in 1978, singing originals and punked up 60's chick songs. David was joined by Janis Tubis (a.k.a. Crispy Meringue) on vocals, “The Very” Curt Gary from WEBN on drums and Mark Hoffman, whom David calls 'bass guitarist extraordinare'.
The Attitude solicited, and won, the category of 'Worst New Band In Cincinnati' in Cincinnati Magazine, which generated huge crowds at every venue they played. The band morphed into 'The Wet Spots” the following year, replacing Curt for Punky McDonald on drums, playing all original new wave tunes and opening for Iggy Pop at Bogarts.
Even then, David had a musical sense that led him to be one step ahead of the trends of the times. In 1981 he switched gears, forming 'The Warsaw Falcons' (a name derived from the brand of a jar of pickles on the kitchen table after a practice session), performing originals and covers of rockabilly, Texas R & B and traditional country. The original band consisted of David on guitar and lead vocals, Donna Moxness on keyboards and vocals, Kevin Ross on drums, Tom Schneider on saxophone and Mark Hoffman on bass. They played primarily at Chapter 13 in Mount Adams, Cincinnati. In 1983 Kevin was replaced with the wildly popular and unpredictable Doug Wagner on drums, and Steve Green took over the keyboards and backup vocals. This group recorded their first vinyl 45: 'Skinny Ankle Bone' with 'I Fall Apart', on the flip side.
David took a short hiatus to Texas in search of music knowledge, returning in 1985 to continue 'The Warsaw Falcons' with former drummer Doug Wagner and new bassist John Schmidt. The 3 piece version of the Falcons was the longest running and possibly the most popular, playing to sold out crowds at Dollar Bill's, Bogart's, Sudsy Malone's, The Balcony, Coco's and Top Cat's.
David took his mother's advice again in 1989, attended a cattle call and won an extra spot in the Tom Selleck's 'An Innocent Man', filmed in Cincinnati. His overwhelming character and deep speaking voice won him a line in the movie, which he performed, and then was promptly let go due to actor's union rules. It was his line, however, that was picked up and repeated at the end of the movie, bringing the whole drama to it's close.
In 1990 David headed for the Nashville dream. While there, he played with Lonnie Mack's rhythm section, Maxwell Schauff (drums) and Mike Freeman (bass) and hooked up with Michael 'Supe' Granda, of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. He recorded a CD with Michael's band, Supe DuJour, “Makin' A Living, Not A Killing”, which included himself, Michael, Bobby Keys (saxophone player for the Rolling Stones), Billy Bremner (of Rockpile) and Sam Bush. Supe Dujour delighted the Nashville audiences with their decidedly Anti-Garth approach to country music.
In 1995 David's beloved older sister, Carolyn, developed cancer, and David returned to Cincinnati to help care for her and his aging mother. The Warsaw Falcons were rallied with the addition of Bobby Keys on sax, playing regionally and locally. In the same year, the Falcons recorded their first CD, 'Right It On The Rock Wall', an all original roots rock album featuring David, Jim Casto on drums, John Schmidt on bass, George Cunningham on guitar and recorded at Ultra Suede Studio in Cincinnati with John Curly.
David bent his talents in a new direction in 1997 joining a powerful 70's soul review band led by 'Sneaky' Pete Kurlas, called at the time, SPC for want of a better name. Playing on Pete's initials, David suggested 'The Soul Pocket Band' and history was made... the Soul Pocket Band continues to be one of the hottest bands around, voted Cincinnati Magazine's 'Best of the City' in 2010, and Modern Bride Magazine's 'Hottest Bands In The USA'.
Staying ahead of the popular music genre (again) David formed 'Big Bill Pickle and the Legendary Jerkin Gherkins' in 1999, performing jump blues/swing originals and standards from the era. Joined by Mark Leshner on Drums, Peter Baer on upright bass, Sadie Faircloth on piano, Scoot Jacobs on sax, David Tralor on trumpet and Mark Bolin on trombone, Big Bill became the most requested swing bands in the Cincinnati area, winning the 1999 Cammy Award for Best Cinci Swing Band. They were joined by Nashville friend Bobby Keys on their album, 'Size Doesn't Matter' that same year.
The Warsaw Falcons were brought together again in 2001 with David, Mark Leshner (drums), Peter Baer (bass), Boss Hogg (tenor sax) and Ricky Howell (harmonica) playing out for a couple of years and recording 2 Eps in 2003, 'Ask Me About My New Lick' and 'All American Muse'. This band was in the process of tabling a recording deal with Boardwalk Records (a Virgin Record imprint) when the twin towers went down in New York city, and in the resulting financial downturn the company went out of business. However, long time popular bar owner Bobby Kramer (Mr. Pitiful's) was quoted, “David Rhodes Brown is the only musician I know who can remake himself 7 times in his own hometown!”
Not one to be disheartened, David joined the upcoming purist rockabilly group 'Stardevils' in 2003. The band (Lance Kaufman, Steve Buckels, Greg Schramm and DRB) performed original old fashioned rockabilly, lending it's style to David's signature 'billy guitar technique and budding non-pedal lap steel abilities. (David had been studying the Drifting Cowboys' Don Helms' and Jerry Byrd's notes for the past year or so). Stardevils allowed David to exercise his songwriting abilities towards that genre as well as travel quite a bit. They played Hemsby England's Rockabilly Weekend, The Greenbay Wisconsin Rockin 50's Fest, 2004 Viva Los Vegas Rockabilly Weekend & the Indy Rockabilly Rebel Weekender, among other festivals. They also played with rockabilly legends Rusty York, Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys, Wayne 'the Train' Hancock, Orangy Ray Hubbard and Rosie Flores, to name a few.
In 2005 David was invited to attend a Johnny Cash Birthday festival at a local hot spot. He had been told about a new local country punk band called '500 Miles to Memphis', and told his lap steel style might fit in. He went, he played with them and by the end of their set Ryan Mallot, band founder, excitedly asked if David could play with them again sometime. David's answer was, “Hell, I'll join your band, boy!” The other members of the band were against adding an 'old' boy to the ranks. They were consequently let go, leaving Ryan and David to start the band from scratch again. The deal (not to mention friendship) was cemented. 500 has since recorded 2 CDs, 'Sunshine In A Shot Glass' and 'We've Built Up To Nothing' (recorded and produced by world renowned Erwin Musper at Studio the Bamboo Room), both critically acclaimed and well reviewed. They have won numerous awards including 2005 CEA for best Folk/Americana Roots, 2007 and 2008 CEA for Best Rock Band; their song 'All My Friends Are Crazy' is now downloadable for the popular video game ROCKBAND™, and other songs have been picked up for cable shows and TV commercials. David continues to tour with the band as much as his schedule allows. His cameo performance of Trent Resnor's 'Hurt' continues to be one of the highlights of a 500 MTM performance.
The local folk/americana group, CEA nominated Magnolia Mountain, found themselves in need of a steel player in 2009, and David joined that group in addition to his other projects. He helped finish their 2nd CD, 'Redbird Green' (released in both CD and vinyl formats), playing lap steel, dobro, slide guitar and banjo. The band plays at numerous music festivals including Twangfest (in St. Louis), the Whispering Beard Folk Festival, MidPoint Music Festival, Rabbit Hash Old Timer's Day, EdenSong, Music for the Mountains, and Metamora Old Time Music Festival. In 2011 Mark Ultley, band founder and Melissa English, vocalist, conceived the project 'Music for the Mountains', a benefit compilation album, music festival, and program to raise awareness of the travesty of mountaintop removal coal mining. David's original song, 'The Price' is included in that project.
David began to feel the need to record and perform his own growing library of original material again in 2010. Lacking a solid band, but having created literally hundreds of friends and contacts in the music industry through the years, the notion of 'Browngrass & Wildflowers' was born. He took his idea to Erwin Musper (Producer, Studio the Bamboo Room who produced, recorded with or engineered Van Halen, David Bowie, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Scorpions, Jeff Beck, Chicago, Metallica, and more). What ensued was a CD of 14 original and 1 cover songs performed by David and backed by 39 of the area's leading artists. The CD was released at the Southgate House in Newport KY with many of the contributors to the CD performing at a whole house benefit for WNKU Radio (89.7 FM), a publicly funded station and the biggest supporter of local music in the area. Reviewed as 'Amazing', “Solid adult-pop message songs', “Amazingly diverse' and 'Sounding like the greatest album David Alvin never made', David took Browngrass one step further and turned it into a troupe. He now has his own band under the same name of the CD, consisting of himself on vocals and guitar, John Schmidt on bass, Greg Schramm on drums, Raiford Faircloth on guitar and vocals, Sadie Faircloth on accordion and vocals and Sylvia Mitchell on violin. Browngrass & Wildflowers is joined by the “Troupe” currently consisting of Bluebird Special (Hillbilly Jazz), Greg 'Tex' Schramm and the Radio King Cowboys (Western Swing), The Tammy WhyNots (classic country), Al and Alice White (folk/bluegrass) and Bob Lucas (guitar, fiddle and banjo, one of Allison Kraus' favorite players). The Browngrass & Wildflower Troupe offer an entire extravaganza of an evening of Americana music to larger venues in the entire region.
2010 and 2011 brought a couple of new projects to David's plate. He is currently also working with long time friends Greg Schramm in his band, Greg 'Tex' Schramm and the Radio King Cowboys, having recorded on the self titled album in 2010, and local artist and music benefactress Kelly Thomas (Kelly Thomas and the Fabulous Pickups, The Hayseed Tabernacle Choir) on her new project, 'The Tammy WhyNots', featuring classic original country music by Kelly, David and Todd Lipscomb (The Kentucky Struts). The WhyNots are joined by John Schmidt on bass, Greg Schramm on drums, and Sylvia Mitchell (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra) on fiddle.