Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey return to Ames


Courtesy of Red House Records

Award winning folk icon and Iowa native Greg Brown will be playing at the Maximum Ames Music Festival on Sept. 27 at DG’s Taphouse.

Cole Komma

With a baritone growl and a deep guitar twang, Greg Brown and Bo Ramsey bring the folk and blues to Ames after many years, to play at the Maximum Ames music festival on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 9 p.m. at DG’s Taphouse.

Growing up in a musical family, Greg Brown was playing music at an early age.

“I had an electric Hawaiian guitar when I was pretty little and a ukulele, those were my first instruments,” Brown said. “[I would play] old country songs or church songs.”

After winning a singing contest, his talent was recognized, and he was told to move east to New York City.

“I remember the first night I lived in New York, I was walking around the street and it got to be five o’ clock and the buildings emptied out and people started getting off work. I had never seen so many people in my life,” Brown said. “I remember I got my guitar and I got in a store front and I got backed against the door and just stood there and waited.”

Contrast the big city with the small river-town of Burlington, Iowa and Brown’s soon to be friend, Bo Ramsey, whose guitar playing was influenced by Delta blues. Ramsey’s expressive style is a reason Brown wanted to collaborate with him.

“I was over in Europe, and I wrote a bunch of songs I realized I wanted to record them with an electric band — not really a folk kind of thing. And I knew Bo [Ramsey] just a little bit and so when I got back to town I asked if he wanted to do a record and he said yes,” Brown said. “He’s a really expressive player. … If you here two or three notes you know that’s Bo.”

Ramsey’s guitar playing began with Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, where as a teenager he tried to learn Luther Perkin’s embellishments throughout the song as well as trying to learn his favorite musician of his time, Bob Dylan.

“I remember trying to learn Bob Dylan; I was in high school in the ’60s so Bob Dylan was very much a voice that I heard,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey recalls seeing Brown play at a local club and feeling like he could play music with Brown.

“I remember walking into a club one night while Greg was playing, and I didn’t know who he was. I remember listening to him play and I thought to myself: ‘You know I could play guitar with this guy.’ I could just hear it,” Ramsey said. “Working with Greg has been a pleasure from day one.”

Both Ramsey and Brown believe there is great music in the Midwest and are excited to play together once again.

“There is a lot of great music here. It’s a special place Iowa; it’s kind of a magical place,” Ramsey says. “I think there’s magic in the land here.”