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Fontaine Brown - Tales from the Fence Line

Tales from the Fence Line

Fontaine Brown

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Now here's a name I haven't run across in a long long time. Fontaine Brown was a member of the late 60s group Southwind, whose later two not-easy-to-find LPs reside in my collection and who had once been headed to sign with Apple Records...which folded just as the band arrived. Nonetheless, he's put out a catalogue of over 200 songs that have seen John Mayall, Dave Edmunds, Emmylou Harris, and others dipping into it—even the Gorillaz sampled the guy! The dozen songs here show why.

With Southwind, Brown was much more country rock oriented but Tales from the Fence Line finds him a good deal bluesier, much more R&B inflected, and immensely matured. For this outing, he hired Don Dixon to play and produce, and I have to say that the more I hear from Dixon lately, the more I like his work -- back when he was soloing, and in the Dixon-House band in the 80s, this wasn't the case (and I wasn't alone). Didn't hurt that Brown picked up the rambunctious Mitch Easter either. I ran across that gent's eponymous band (Easter) a long time ago while waiting with a buddy for Iggy Pop to sign LPs at a local Wherehouse. Easter and crew pulled up on a flat bed decked with amps and musicians and just started up right there in the strip mall parking lot in Torrance. They got about six songs in before the cops, called by one of the merchants, arrived, missing the band, who'd caught wind of the impending fracas, by about 60 seconds. The entire waiting line was grinning like a pack of monkeys.

There's also a bit of the bayou in Brown, as Closer to the Flame demonstrates, and Peter Holsapple's ('member him?) B-3, Wurlitzer, and harmonium endow a good deal of white soul to the arrangements. Fontaine plays a really decent harp and I sure coulda used more of it in the songs, but that isn't a complaint. Lost in the Sensation presents a great mellow cut with a catchy refrain and ghosted guitar while Pool of Light follows up on it in an electric folk fashion, with an electric sitar no less, and Just out of Reach records that frustrated wistfulness we all feel when coming up short of ambition. Got to Git" boasts an old Savoy Brown feeling, and Endless Road closes out the CD in a Dire Straits-ish semi-boogie, putting the icing on a disc that never fails to please, especially if you're yearning for the light of a recent yesteryear tuned up and burning brightly.

Track List:

  • Ain't No Brakeman
  • Fence Line
  • Detroit Saturday
  • Closer to the Flame (Brown / Nagle / Matthews)
  • Love Come Rescue Me (Brown / Freeman)
  • Southside Story
  • Lost in the Sensation (Brown / Hattig)
  • Wreck at the Crossroads
  • Just Out of Reach
  • Pool of Light
  • Got to Git
  • Endless Road
All songs written by Fontaine Brown except as noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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