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March 19, 2015

Rockin’ the Region with Dan Brown

Rockin’ the Region with Dan Brown

You have a few opportunities to hear Dan Brown and I suggest you take them all. Brown brings a great variety of music to the Killington scene. Every Thursday night at Jax you can see his duo group, Supply and Demand. This weekend at the Foundry you can see his other group, Down n’Around. Later this month on March 28 you can see Supply and Demand at Slopeside Bar & Grille. Wherever you hear Brown and his bands, it will sound great.

Supply and Demand is comprised of Brown and Si Las. Brown met Si Las at an open mic and they found out they have similar music tastes. Brown says, “We play a lot of the same stuff and we have the same mindset for tunes. It’s cool because he can play great guitar and I can play mandolin, ukulele, banjo, harmonica or electric guitar.” They mix it up and have a good time doing it, sort of a hybrid cover and originals project. Occasionally Hannah Lafaso will jump in with some sweet vocals.

Down n’Around is a whole different band with upright bass and fiddle. Brown says it’s a little more dinner-oriented, but last week it was jamming, so you get a little of both. Down n’ Around consists of Joe Spears on upright bass (with whom Brown went to high school), his wife Jess on fiddle, Brown on banjo and Si Las and Hannah Lafaso occasionally jumping in.

Dan grew up in Pennsylvania and went to college in New Jersey. Dan first came to Killington four years ago to play at Slopeside. His good friend John Durney owned the place and brought him up a bunch of times. Dan and John became friends in Atlantic City in the bar scene down there where Dan moved to after college. Dan played a New Year’s Eve gig at Slopeside and knew then that he wanted to move here. His wife Leigh-Ann applied for a job at Castleton and got it so they’ve now been here two winters and love it.

Dan Brown does a lot of looping in his shows and that’s where playing so many instruments really helps. “There’s a lot of live loops when I play, whether it’s beat boxing or I try to loop the guitar and percussion instruments with that. It’s like a Gabriel and Rodrigo kind of thing. I enjoy doing that stuff and I try and make it interesting. There’s a lot of guys out there who are just showing up with a guitar and plowing through 40 songs a night. I like to see it varied. Some people will ask me what the ukulele is because they don’t always see that so it’s fun.” Brown has always taught himself how to play and just added instrument by instrument. “I get into different kinds of string instruments so it’s really fun,” he adds.

When Brown was 12 he started playing guitar and 25 years later, he’s still at it. His parents got him into it but didn’t play any instruments themselves. They were listening to country music and bought him a guitar. When Dan really thinks back, it’s the “Paradise City” music video from Guns n’ Roses that reeled him in. “That was really sick. I was like ‘Oh hell ya.’” He always liked playing guitar and played in high school and college bands. When he graduated college and turned 21 he realized he could start playing in bars and that seemed like a fun job. His first gig was with Joe Spear in a talent show in Pennsylvania and they played “Smells like Teen Spirit.” “I ended up playing a lot of great places and met a lot of great people,” Brown says.

Brown has a masters in psychology and did jobs with that but it worked out better for him to stay home during the day with his two boys and play at night. It works good for his family. “I never went back to those psychology jobs and stuck with this.” He’s played a lot of gigs but his favorite is just last month when he played at the Pickle Barrel for Mardi Gras. “Playing in a ten piece band was a lot of fun,” Brown exclaimed.

Musically, Dan Brown likes everything. A lot of stuff he plays is what he listens to. You might hear him play some old Johnny Cash and then some Lil Wayne and Drake. “I’m a huge Radiohead fan but obviously it doesn’t get a lot of play in bars. I like everything: soulive, jazz, funk, reggae… I was in reggae bands and I really like reggae rhythms. I like a whole bunch of stuff with different rhythms. If I can play an old Johnny Cash tune and then play a reggae tune, that’s cool.” Dan Brown plays to the room. “Whatever the room needs I’m going to play. And I don’t just mean tunes. It could be a beautiful vibe or setting up a cool air about the place. I like to have a lot of energy in it so there’s always going to be that. It’s the new crazy play list.”

Brown loves the music scene in this area. “I really appreciate the Killington area. It’s great for original music. It’s cool that dudes are dropping albums every year like Duane [Carleton]. I think that’s so cool about up here. It’s really upped my game and made me think about writing more.” A quote that Brown lives by: “If you hit a wrong note it’s unavoidable but if you play without feeling it’s unacceptable. That’s how I go by. I’d rather screw a song up but play with feeling then nail a song and have it be blah.”

Dan Brown has written and recorded many tunes, still  actively writing. Check him out at danbrownmusic.com.

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  • We saw Down ‘n Around at the Foundry on Friday with Hannah. This is a very talented group. We couldn’t sit still!

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