Brown tours nation
playing traditional music
musician wants to turn his
weekend job into full-time profession
(June 2006) Most young adults in their early
20s are drawn to popular music such as rhythm & blues, country,
rap, hip-hop, hard rock, and Top 100 music. Many young adults couldnt
even name a bluegrass song, much less play bluegrass music. But Madison,
Ind., native Jake Brown is an exception.
Brown (left) plays the mandolin
and performs with the professional
bluegrass group, Wildwood Valley Boys.
Brown, 20, belongs to a professional touring bluegrass
band called The Wildwood Valley Boys. He joined the pre-existing band
nearly two years ago. Since then, he has been touring the country on
the weekends playing traditional style bluegrass music. During the week,
Brown, like a normal 20-year-old, attends classes at Ivy Tech Community
College, where he is majoring in business administration.
The mandolin, guitar and banjo are the instruments of Browns choice
and, despite his natural talent, hes only been playing for five
For Christmas five years ago, Browns father bought his mother,
Christy, a mandolin, but it largely sat unplayed for about a month.
Christy Brown had taught Jake a little on the guitar previously, but
he wasnt very serious about playing.
But after the mandolin sat around for a while, he began to listen to
a CD that had a mandolin instrumental. He learned how to play by ear
from that CD and, according to Brown, Things snowballed from there.
Now he finds it addicting to play.
Brown belonged to another local bluegrass group before joining The Wildwood
Valley Boys. His current group was in search of a full-time mandolin
player when Browns then band leader, James White, suggested Brown
for the position. Vaughn McGuire also provided a reference for Brown
to Tony Holt, the lead singer of The Wildwood Valley Boys. Brown rehearsed
with the group and recalled that everything gelled.
The Wildwood Valley Boys have a new CD out titled, Daylights
Burnin, and Brown considers his involvement in the recording of
the CD his favorite moment and honor with the band so far. The Wildwood
Valley Boys recorded the album at the River Track Studio in Fort Gay,
W.Va., and it was officially released April 25 under Rebel Records.
Brown said that Rebel Records is a top of the line label for bluegrass
bands and was excited to have been a part of the album.
Brown has many musical inspirations, especially Mike Cleveland from
Charlestown, Ind. Brown complimented him, saying, Hes the
most amazing musician I know.
Occasionally, Cleveland fills in with The Wildwood Valley Boys as a
fiddle player. Cleveland and all the local musicians Brown has played
with in the past few years have been a big influence on him and his
music. He believes that the local bluegrass scene has been very supportive
Theyve got me where I am right now, he said.
Lori Herring, Browns older sister, is proud of Browns accomplishments.
She describes his experiences as pretty exciting. Its neat
to hear his stories. Browns family tries to catch as many
of his shows as they can, but since The Wildwood Valley Boys travel,
its hard to follow them everywhere.
Herring said that they were able to catch a really neat show in Xenia,
Ohio, that took place in a ballroom-type setting. Herring also said
that even though their whole family loves music, Brown and her mother
are the only two who play. In fact, Browns mother was in a local
band when she was younger, so it appears that Brown is following in
his mothers footsteps but on a much grander scale.
Right now, Brown is only playing music on the side, but he would prefer
it to turn into a profession in some way or another. Its
a ton of fun, feels great, and nice to be compensated for something
you love, Brown said.
Hed love to continue to move up the ladder in the bluegrass scene
and even eventually own his own studio or music related business. Thus,
his degree from Ivy Tech will come into play.
According to The Wildwood Valley Boys website, the group will
be touring all summer long playing at festivals nationwide. The band
will play in Hoboken, Ga., on May 5-6 and will be all over the Midwest
in June. The nearest concert to Madison, and the only one in Indiana
this summer, will be July 28 in Everton.
For more information on The Wildwood Valley
Boys, visit: www.wildwoodvalleyboys.net.
Back to June 2006 Articles.