Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus
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Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | INDIE | AFM

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2008
Duo Folk Americana

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Jim Patton/Sherry Brokus – Plans Gang Aft Agley – www.pattonbrokus.com – This is a beguiling record. It didn’t overwhelm me at first and I was quick to begin to dismiss it, but then it inexorably drew me in. Plain, simple, unadorned, unpretentious lyrics and singing that weave their tales of universal life, love and woe with the slyness of Hemingway and the convoluted depth of William Faulkner. You don’t think anything is being said and then begin to realize that a whole complex world is unraveling before your ears. The characters that inhabit these songs are not condescended to but instead are presented in all the gorgeous complexity that makes up a human life. What struck me particularly about the musical aspect was the unadorned fabric beauty of the melodies accompanying the texts; straightforward but with subtlety and nuance. A slight guitar figure here, a jingle of tambourine there and an organ rising up like bubbling crude beneath, all adding nuance and texture to these tales. The duo or Patton and Brokus present the songs in the most democratic of fashions, with one taking the lead while the other provides harmonies on every other tune. An A record!

- HomeGrownRadioNJ.com


If you like good acoustic music, just show up at Austin Java at 12th and Lamar (north) at 8 pm on Thursday, October 18th for the THIRD COAST MUSIC SONGWRITER SHOWCASE -- which is of course the revival in small portions of what used to happen every night at the old Chicago House music venue.

This week's featured performers include Miss Shelley King, the fabulous Darcie Deaville, and Tim Henderson -- but the backbone of this music series since its inception is the dynamic duo who moved here in 1994 from the streets of Baltimore -- Jim Patton and Sherry Brokus, also known as Edge City (when playing in full band mode).

Now THIS is a couple from whom many of us could learn a lot about the grace of living, both through Jim's songs and their warm harmonies together and through the way they encourage each other and those around them. Wherever Jim and Sherry go, there always seems to be a campfire burning, guitars playing, and love all around (even when they are playing indoors).

Jim and Sherry are about to release their very first (Austin-made, that is) recording after two Edge City records that feature the whole band sound. But before we get to that, let's review a little history. Way back in 1979, Jim and his brother were playing in a band up in Maryland and this skinny blonde says she can sing and Jim's heart flutters and he breaks every rule of the band and lets her up on stage. She has never gotten off.

I have to admit that my own heyday in the Baltimore-Washington area was a decade earlier, but Jim and Sherry benefitted from airplay on the legendary WHFS-FM (the first to play antiwar underground music in the Sixties) -- and as Jim notes, a single from their very first five-song EP made it all the way to No. 7 on the charts in Pleasantville, New York.

Back in 1994, Butch Hancock's Lubbock or Leave It was still going strong during SXSW, and Jim and Sherry quickly found themselves surrounded by golks like Jon Dee Graham, Joe Ely, and Jimmy Dale Gilmore and the rest of the Chicago House scene that was so shortly afterward to fade away. They also befriended Lloyd Maines (long before his daughter became page 1 news), and he turned them onto a tall, rangy farm-loving gal named Terri Hendrix.

Lloyd also produced Edge City's "Mystery Ride," the cover of which includes the band's motto, "Music for those of us who never joined up!" And, yes, that IS a takeoff on the Maryland state flag on the jacket! Players on that disc included David Grissom on guitar, Darcie Deaville on fiddle and mandolin, Glenn Fukunaga on bass, Paul Pearcy on drums, and Chip Dolan on keyboards and accordian -- also featured is Jim and Sherry's daughter Meaghan on harmony vocals (another long story). And, of course, Lloyd himself on lots of music makers.

The second Edge City CD was "Keepers of the Flame," produced by Bradley Kopp and featuring Brad on guitars, Lloyd on dobro and pedal steel, David Webb on keyboards, Glenn on bass, Freddie Steady Krc on drums, Darcie again, my pal Jon Sanchez as guest lead player on two songs, and Lorrie Singer and Brad on backing vocals.

I mention these two CD's largely because they are the source of many of the songs on the brand-new "Plans Gang Aft Agley," which brings Jim and Sherry back to the folk scene that is their monthly venue once again. "Aliceanna Street" and "Finest Hour" date to the Maines recording, while the Kopp-produced CD has band-size versions of "Fortunate Man," "Somewhere Else There's a Promised Land," "Wings of an Airplane," "27 Voices," "Tonight I'm Just Thinking About You," and "Don't Say Goodbye."

Songs ONLY available on the new disc include "Another Pretty Deep Hole," "Tarnished Angel," and "Son of My Father." Ron Flynt produced the new disc, which should open new doors for the laid-back couple who like to tour once or twice a year -- back up east and all over, really. Darcie plays a lot of fiddle here, too.

After running into Jim and Sherry at Flipnotics a while back, where we were all listening to tunes from Mary Battiata (an old friend of theirs from their Baltimore-Washington daze) and the amazing Michael Fracasso (whose new songs may even surpass his older standards), we got together over at Austin Java for a brief conversation that lasted all evening. Jim talked about his approach to the craft - write great songs and make great records are his goals - and about the reality that his songs are stories that are woven from events in his own life and then camouflaged so as to make them universal. He also called his songs snapshots taken from all different angles -- but folks, he is using a unique lens.

Sherry, by the way, has a huge career outside music. Trained as a psychological therapist, she has served the homeless and addicted populations of the streets of Baltimore, the displaced people of New Orleans and surrounding areas after Katrina, and children of all ages who have a history of abuse. No wonder she sings with such compassion and has - Duggan Flanikan for Flanfire


By Geoffrey Himes

In his early 60s, an age when most singer-songwriters have been in decline for a decade or more, Jim Patton has improbably deepened and broadened his art. For his new album with his wife and longtime musical partner Sherry Brokus, The Great Unknown, Patton has crafted 10 new songs that do more than explain himself to his listeners; these songs explain those listeners to themselves. For many years Patton has shined a revealing light on his own past and the inside of his own head. But with this record, he aims his flashlight into other skulls and into the future. The Great Unknown, indeed.

The new album begins with one of his best-ever songs, “On the Day I Leave This World,” which allows him to imagine his eventual, inevitable death. It’s a surprisingly humble song; it doesn’t describe that death as a momentous event but rather as another turning of the page. Some friends will be sad, but dogs will go on chasing squirrels as they’ve always done; “This merry-go-round will keep on spinning.” That balance of sadness and naturalness is tricky to capture, but Patton does it not only in his writing but in his vocal as well.

Patton’s willingness to climb inside other people's heads has created an expanded role for Brokus in the duo's music. For the first time on one of their albums, she takes more lead vocals than he does, and her long career as a therapist allows her to convincingly assume the personas of the troubled narrators of “Drown” and “I’m Alright Now.” Neither she nor her husband have ever suffered the addiction and trauma of these two men, but they’ve been close enough to understand it and articulate it as the men themselves never could.

There are similar songs about ex-lovers who can’t let go, brow-beaten children who can’t forget, middle-aged rock'n'rollers who won’t give up. All these characters want to reach new territory, unknown and perhaps greater than anything they’ve known, before the day they leave this world. “It’s easy to show when someone has a problem and when someone has overcome the problem,” Brokus says, “but it’s getting from point A to point B that's hard to describe.” But that's just what Patton and Brokus capture in these songs, thanks in large part to the terrific Texas musicians who frame their voices: producer Ron Flynt, lead guitarist Mary Cutrufello, mandolinist Marvin Dykhuis, fiddler Warren Hood, cellist Julie Carter and percussionist John Bush.

“..proof that spousal harmonies can rival the sibling kind when the voices are right..” - Mary Battiata, 3rd Coast Music

“I met Jim and Sherry when I first moved to Austin in 1998. I had the opportunity to work on a record with them and I’m glad it worked out. They are so passionate about their music. I’ve always been drawn to artists who write about their life experiences, and that’s just what Jim and Sherry do. I’m glad to be a part of their music.” - Lloyd Maines - Geoffrey Himes


"Over the years, the couple have put out four albums, two as Edge City, and two as Patton & Brokus, but while they were, by and large well received, in retrospect they were all leading to the fifth [The Great Unknown], on which the duo rises to whole new levels...this is the best sounding of their albums...the 10 originals...are by far the best material they've recorded." - John Conquest, Third Coast Music Cover Story, Sept 2013

"In his early 60s, an age when most singer-songwriters have been in decline for a decade or more, Jim Patton has improbably deepened and broadened his art. For his new album with his wife and longtime musical partner Sherry Brokus, The Great Unknown, Patton has crafted 10 new songs that do more than explain himself to his listeners; these songs explain those listeners to themselves." - Geoffrey Himes, national music writer

“..proof that spousal harmonies can rival the sibling kind when the voices are right..” -Mary Battiata, 3rd Coast Music

“This is a beguiling record... it inexorably drew me in. Plain, simple, unadorned, unpretentious lyrics and singing that weave their tales of universal life, love and woe with the slyness of Hemingway and the convoluted depth of William Faulkner." --John Hammel, Homegrownradionj.com

“the rare true rocker in a parking lot of other stuff…’ -Bruce Balmer

“…Charles Dickens for the 21st Century…” -Bob Mackenzie, Sound Bytes - Various Reviewers


Discography

The Great Unknown CD 2013
Ray of Hope CD 2010
Plans Gang Aft Agley CD 2008
Keepers of the Flame CD 2006 (as Edge City)
Mystery Ride CD 2000 (as Edge City)

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Bio

“I met Jim and Sherry when I first moved to Austin in 1998. I had the opportunity to work on a record with them and I’m glad it worked out. They are so passionate about their music. I’ve always been drawn to artists who write about their life experiences, and that’s just what Jim and Sherry do. I’m glad to be a part of their music.” - Lloyd Maines

“..proof that spousal harmonies can rival the sibling kind when the voices are right..” -Mary Battiata, 3rd Coast Music

Berkalin Records is proud to announce the July 2013 release of The Great Unknown, a new album from the Austin folk/Americana duo Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus. Building on the momentum of their past two albums, 2008’s Plans Gang Aft Agley and 2010’s Ray of Hope, both of which went top-10 on the Roots Music chart, the duo has teamed up with producer Ron Flynt for the third straight time to deliver their strongest writing and singing yet. Once the album is released, Patton & Brokus will support it with live shows not only in their home state of Texas but also in cities across North America. The act also plans a major radio and press campaign to build on the warm reception their last two albums received.

In the album's liner notes, Washington Post music critic Geoffrey Himes declares that “Patton has improbably deepened and broadened his art. For his new album with his wife and longtime musical partner Sherry Brokus, The Great Unknown, Patton has crafted 10 new songs that do more than explain himself to his listeners; these songs explain those listeners to themselves.”

Producer Flynt has crafted ingenious acoustic/electric arrangements that keep Patton’s acoustic guitar, Brokus’s hand percussion and the duo’s voices out front, while subtly reinforcing them with bass and keyboards. The result is a sound that closely resembles the duo’s live shows, where the lanky, silver-haired Patton sits next to the petite, dark-haired Brokus and showcase the lyrics that are the key to the act’s appeal. Even at house concerts and folk clubs, however, the duo often brings along an extra musician to embellish the songs, and that's the feel of the record as well. Providing that enhancement on The Great Unknown are guitarist/keyboardist Ron Flynt, lead guitarist Mary Cutrufello, mandolinist Marvin Dykhuis, fiddler Warren Hood, cellist Julie Carter and percussionist John Bush

Band Members