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UK Export Findlay Brown Performs NYC show

By Janet Walker

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UK export, Findlay Brown performed recently to a standing room audience at Piano’s, an east village institution in the middle of deep cavern bars and restaurants, located on Ludlow Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Piano's at 158 Ludlow on Manhattan LES.

Piano’s, is housed in an old Piano store in what once was a thriving lower east side business district that went through a neighborhood decline that left the area, about a decade ago, desolate. Now, again, it’s a thriving east village hot spot with Ludlow Street being the address.  Once inside, the two story restaurant is divided by the elevated benches lining the back wall for table service, upstairs with comfy relaxed overstuff couches, and the back room for live performances.

I was here to interview hot UK export, Findlay Brown, who just crossed the pond for two sold out shows; one on each coast.  Having interviewed celebs I knew that there would be time to absorb the East Village feel as it has been years, a decade at least, since I took the F train past W. 4th Street. For anything.

The Bartender was a causal cool guy, a couple of steps away from my usual haunts, charming and engaging in a east village retro way.  He seemed to know the crowd and their drinks. He served up shots in memory of the recent death of East Village icon, original punk rocker, Lux Interior and we, yes even yours truly, slammed one back for ol' Lux someone I hadn’t heard of until the day before. 

The music was great mix of retro vinyl including Credence, “Born on the Bayou” and DC Talk, “Spirit in the Sky.” You know, “You gotta have a friend in Jesus.”

Just as I was starting to groove on the tunes a group of odd looking fellows arrived and instinctively I knew they were members of the band. Their Girlie Action rep, Sarah, explained that “Fin was late, it’s been a whirlwind two days” and he should be here soon.

Findlay Brown in his signature style.

Moments later, Fin, walked in. Taller than I expected, dressed in black jeans and back leather jacket carrying his guitar case he paused greeted by band mates, introduced himself and gave me, the very Brit-ish accent as he explained he was sorry he was late and would be ready in a “min-it.”

We settled onto bar stools and I realized that Findlay Brown is not the usual English bloke, quick to admit he’s a self taught, country kid  who grew up “outside of York, old York that is.” He emphasized “Which is East Yorkshire, the North of England.” He described childhood memories that are typical for children raised in a rural setting: swimming, shooting, rope swings, riding motor bikes: an idyllic lifestyle away from the cosmopolitan world of celeb artists, music, New York’s East Village and Hollywood Boulevard. 

Peacefrog's Findlay Brown (center) with his touring band.

Then as the story goes, he had “a sort of psychedelic experience” that opened him to the kaleidoscope colors of Jimi Hendrix’s talent. From then on he became obsessed with all things circa1960.   To develop his talent, he did all the odd jobs that move one closer to their goals: Summer gigs in second hand record shops. Absorbing everything he could find from bands like “Love,” the progressive English band “Family, and Traffic,” early Eric Clapton for those curious, “The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Motown and Elvis.”

He’s the first to tell you that he was not educated musically and “hadn’t really done anything creative until I was about 18.”  He saved up a bit of money and, as he explained it, “My granddad gave me some Beatles autographs because I’d got into the Beatles in a big way and although the Beatles were like Gods to me I felt that the best thing I could do with those autographs was to sell them and buy a guitar.”  So that’s what he did and with some years, lessons and a couple of records later, he’s at this moment.

The new CD, Love Will Find You, is a natural progression after Separated by the Sea that told the story of “trying to win my girlfriend back as I had been a bit of an idiot.” He laughed and added, “It worked.” The new album is also love songs fused with the influence of spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now.

Separated By The Sea, his 2007 Album dedicated to his girlfriend.

These new songs were written during a moment when positive choice was the key to change. After being run over by a Taxi, that broke his leg, his recuperation landed him on his sister’s sofa where, other than his first guitar and laptop, he was artistically challenged: by circumstance, tools and effort.

That’s when, as he described it he had, “A bit of epiphany completely accepting my situation and became absolutely calm.”  These ten tracks that address universal feelings of love and although not as specific he admits, “are still about my girlfriend,” were birthed out of that season.

The band began their set-up and with the performance a good hour away I settled onto a bar stool and ordered dinner and decided to turn the article into a food and band review.

Findlay Brown.

The Piano Burger is the house specialty. Generous quarter-pound burgers served on oversized English Muffins topped with the Piano’s special sauce, a mixture of a mild red onion sauce and the choice of salad or fries. It goes for a conservative $7.00 dollars. Add a non-alcoholic beverage and the tab will jump to 10.00 for the meal.  It is important to order either rare, medium or well understanding that anything in between will result in the entrée being a shade undercooked.  As I ordered “medium well” my burger was rare.  The server, of course, only heard “medium” with “well” being the extension of a new sentence.

The Happy Hour menu from 3-7pm offers veggie and Beef burgers and chicken sandwiches along with a variety of 5.00 dollar menu appetizers. Generous portions of Piano Fries with dipping sauces, Fried Mozzarella sticks and chicken strips: Standard bar rates apply for beer, wine, mixed drinks and shots. The expanded menu does include uptown traditional entrees and you can guess them, standards for most menu’s, salmon, penne pasta, chicken Caesar salad along with the house specialty and appetizers.

The interview was great and, as I dig the Motown sound, I was expectant of silky smooth vocals with temptation backups. He struck the first cord and it was certainly the early Phil Spector pop, a Ronettes, Be My, Be My Baby sound. Unfortunately the first song was a little disappointing. It didn’t hit the groove.  By the end, the repetitious cords were monotonous. The melody and beat were lost by the overbearing three cord sound; it was strike the cord, sing, strike the cord, sing, strike, the cord, and if I weren’t reviewing them, leave.

The two sides of Findlay Brown.

The second song Love will Find You, was much better. I was tapping my foot to the melody and the lyrics were memorable and honest.  Love will find You, could be their pop single. When Findlay started to sing he connected with the lyrics, they hit home, the sound was better, the cords took off and he jammed on the guitar. This sound was what I expected. It had heartfelt lyrics and the early Motown sound that transformed the recording industry.

I heard genuine talent. Although every song didn’t reflect the same intensity and talent they sounded as if they could hit with Love Will Find You.  Although Fin is clearly influenced by the 60’s, this isn’t the recording industry of the 60’s and artists don’t need a B side on a 45 or even a label to get the music out.

You can hear Findlay Brown: find Tour Dates and info at: http://www.myspace.com/findlaybrown
For Press Information:  www.girlieaction.com
For Piano’s Bar: www.pianosnyc.com

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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