Floyd Brown is ‘Raising Cane on the Bayou’ with latest EP _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Floyd Brown

Floyd Brown made his first record, “Thunderbird Beach,” in 1960. He was 14. Baton Rouge label Montel Records released Brown’s next recording, “Teenage Vision,” in 1961. Brown recorded the local hit at the New Orleans studio owned by future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Cosimo Matassa.

Through the more than 50 years since “Teenage Vision,” Brown has never stopped performing. In 1983, he won the Nashville-based TV talent show, “You Can Be a Star.” He also owned several Baton Rouge nightclubs.

But Brown, a singer with a soulful Louisiana style and sound, has made only a handful of recordings. He’s finally followed his 2005 collection, “The Best of Floyd Brown,” with his newly recorded EP, “Raising Cane on the Bayou.”

Recorded primarily at Nelson Blanchard’s Techno Sound in Baton Rouge, the four-song project reunited Brown with producer-songwriters Rex Pearce and Dale Murray.

“I don’t think we could have gotten a better sound,” Brown said of the project. “I’ve done stuff at some of the best studios in Nashville, but this has a groove, a vibe, a feel.”

Track two on the EP, “That’s New Orleans,” appears to be the breakout song. Composed by Murray and New Orleans native Pearce, it’s rich with local references.

“Streetcars passing majestic oak trees,” Brown sings. “Spanish moss swaying in a warm Southern breeze. Horse-drawn carriages roll by Jackson Square. At Preservation Hall jazz echoes in the air.”

“I love the horns,” Brown said of “That’s New Orleans.” “We tried to get that New Orleans feel.”

“Raising Cane on the Bayou” is available from floydbrownmusic.com, CD Baby and iTunes. He also sells the disc at his shows. His next local performance is June 5 at Club Coozan.

Brown’s new recording project began with a phone call from the Mandeville-based Pearce to Blanchard, keyboardist in Brown’s band. Pearce and Brown hadn’t worked together since “The Best of Floyd Brown.”

“Rex asked Nelson if I can still sing,” Brown said. “Nelson said, ‘Yeah, he can. And maybe has more soul than he did then.’ ”

Pearce had written a song he wanted Brown to record. After Brown, Pearce, Murray and Blanchard recorded “Raising Cane on the Bayou,” Brown said, “Rex said, ‘Listen to this. I just wrote this one last night.’ He started ‘That’s New Orleans.’ ”

In the next few months, they recorded the other songs that appear on the EP, the Pearce composition “Eclipsed by Love” and, a song Brown’s been singing since the early ’80s, “Left Side of the Bed.”

“I give Rex, Dale and Nelson 100 percent credit for everything but the vocals,” Brown said. “In that small studio the four us had eight ears, listening to everything. They wrote the songs, but it was up to me to interpret them.

“I tried to do what they wanted, but sometimes the phrasing wouldn’t fit. I changed a few of the words. They were cordial about that. When I got in the studio for ‘Eclipsed by Love,’ they were telling me do it this way, do it that way.’ Rex said, ‘Look, y’all. Let Floyd sing it like he wants to sing it.’ I did and they loved it.”

In the early 1960s, Brown was one of several talented young Baton Rouge performers, including John Fred Gourrier, Johnny Rivers and Luther Kent, who’d become musicians for life.

Like Gourrier, who later recorded the international hit, “Judy In Disguise (With Glasses),” Brown made recordings in New Orleans under the auspices of local record company owner and promoter S.J. Montalbano.

“When we walked in Cosimo’s studio,” Brown remembered, “Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, Huey ‘Piano’ Smith, Charles Brown and Mac Rebennack (Dr. John) were there. They were hanging out. S.J. introduced me to them.”

Montalbano released “Teenage Vision” through his Montel label. Brown’s follow up, “I Wanna Go Home,” appeared on Johnny Vincent’s Jackson, Mississippi-based Ace Records.

“Charles Brown wrote ‘I Wanna Go Home’ and played piano on it,” Brown said. “It was No. 1 for weeks in Baton Rouge and it went Top 50 in the nation. And I traveled, playing Houston, Dallas, all over.”

Brown’s forays to Nashville in the 1970s and ’80s were less successful. Shakeups in the executive offices of major record companies hindered his progress, he said.

But decades later, Brown is thrilled about his new EP, which came to him out of the blue, and its attention-grabbing song, “That’s New Orleans.”

“We’re getting a lot of good response,” he said. “I’m proud of it as I can be.”