NCPA April 17, 2024

Clarence BrownToday we celebrate the centennial birthday of Clarence Brown, known as “Gatemouth,” born on this day in 1924—the award-winning multi-instrumentalist from Vinton, La., whose unique virtuoso guitar playing was featured on dozens of albums and compilations between 1940 and his death in 2005. He brought together blues, country (and western), Cajun, and jazz influences over the course of his career and was unbeatable on the guitar, as well as the mandolin, viola, violin, harmonica, and drums. His harmonica work in support of Canned Heat at the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival is still cited by fans as a high-water mark for the instrument. As an official State Department goodwill ambassador, his playing regularly took him around the globe, including a storied, six-week tour of the Soviet Union in 1979 where he played 44 dates. Brown, pictured in Norway in 1981, won a Grammy two years later for his album, “Alright, Again!”