Jim Patton and Sherry Brokus of Austin, Texas, are returning to 49 West in Annapolis for their annual post-Thanksgiving show on November 24 at 7:30pm.
The Severna Park natives will play songs from across their career but feature songs from their new “Big Red Gibson” album.
“Big Red Gibson" represents a return to the rock side of Patton and Brokus' folk-rock origins for the first time since 2005, when they put their band Edge City on hiatus. The band on "Big Red Gibson" plays with a Tom Petty and The Byrds influence, led by Cordy Lavery's electric 12-string guitar.
Patton brought a batch of 20 songs to longtime producer Ron Flynt that called for a harder edge than the mostly acoustic sounds of "Going the Distance," their 2022 CD that spent 20 weeks on the Americana chart. The characters in Patton's new songs feel an urgency: toward getting away from their city, their past, a way of life that Patton and producer Flynt felt needed to be represented in the music.
Flynt has played bass and keyboards, sung harmonies and produced Patton and Brokus since 2008. Drummer Steve McCarthy and Patton bonded over their love of old records by The Kinks. Longtime friend BettySoo again fills in on the high parts that used to be Brokus' while Brokus concentrates on her lower range.
Brokus' voice, ravaged in 2019 by allergies, is on the road to recovery. She has no damage to her vocal cords, but it may take another year and a half for her to sing fully again. She has already cut her first lead vocal in four years for the next album, which the duo has already begun to record.
Patton and Brokus met at the Oxbow Inn on Ritchie Highway, and Patton's songs are filled with references to Anne Arundel County and the Baltimore area. Their last two albums went to No. 12 and No. 17, respectively, on the folk charts.
Patton was the longtime cross country and track coach at Severna Park High School. Brokus is a mental health therapist.
They listened to a lot of Richard and Linda Thompson, The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, the Everly Brothers, and Emmylou Harris singing with Bob Dylan when they started, but from the beginning, they developed their own style.
As for lyrical inspiration, Patton cites the sources as 20th century American fiction (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, J.D. Salinger and Raymond Chandler) and the various lives of the friends he grew up with.
“I knew doctors and lawyers and waitresses and teachers and water rats and gravediggers and the guy who drove the truck that emptied the port-o-pots all over the state,” he said.
Patton said he learned to play acoustic guitar through Bob Dylan songs and electric in a band playing Rolling Stones songs, and "that was pretty much it for covers.”