Hearsay: Wednesday, August 29, 2002
Brown Sugar

Nathan Brown is, basically, the smoothest dude on the planet — and HearSay means this sincerely. Brown has been plying his one-man show for the past few years, and it’s a cryin’ shame that no one “gets” him. Here you have this really tall, really skinny, really effeminate-looking guy with shoulder-length blond feathered hair, pounding out what amounts to blue-eyed soul on his keyboard as a drum machine keeps time in the background. It’s a sight, but the music is so darn Stevie-Wonderishly groovy, and the guy is so frickin’ talented, that you’d have to be a closed-minded bastard not to appreciate.

At the last minute last week, Brown hauled his gear into the small performing area of The Moon, plugged in, began jamming, and proceeded to run off 85 percent of the clientele. HearSay was then more convinced than ever that what Brown was doing was legit: The barflies of West Berry aren’t the most progressive mo-fos in town. One of the yups who stayed long enough to get a good dose of the music sat in his chair, in his neat little businessman shirt and tie, with this rumpled, confused, bewildered look on his face, and just ... stared. The expression was priceless. The other patrons who stayed or were strongarmed by J.B. the Bartender to stay were surely the empty vessels of once-living music fans. They couldn’t keep their eyes off Brown, but they couldn’t muster either the common decency or energy to clap after any of his songs. (Were they really that tired?! All those long days working in the coal mines of Arlington Heights must be grueling.) Two rednecked toughs then began heckling Brown — and HearSay swears that if it is ever again downwind of (a) drunk white people singing the chorus of “Sweet Caroline” in public, or (b) drunk white people shouting, “Freebird!” to performers on stage, as said rednecks did, it will write about the Wreck Room and only the Wreck Room every week for the next 13 years. So back to the two toughs: Well, they began getting rowdy and shouting out shit and generally trying their damnedest for a couple of minutes to get under Brown’s skin. No dice. Ever the consummate performer, Brown just laughed along with them, turned their barbs around on them, and, in HearSay’s opinion, turned up the “fag” quotient in his set — just to piss dem good ole boys off. The few friends of Brown’s who eventually showed up kept the two jerks in check. Brown then began taking requests, and the set took off.

Too bad Brown’s not a homeboy anymore; he’s relocated to Los Angeles. He was only in town for a couple days, and who knows where or when he’s gonna play again around these parts. If the fates are kind, we’ll see him one day on Leno.

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