Natalie Brown
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Natalie Brown

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States | SELF

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States | SELF
Band Folk World


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"One instrument, different styles and sounds"

She plays her violin like a rock star shreds his Flying V guitar... - Daily Iowan - Evan Clark

"Local Artist Natalie Brown Releases "Violin Crossings" CD"

"If a CD ever revealed the sheer talent of an artist, “Violin Crossings” fills the bill. Natalie Brown is a smashing success… dynamic is an understatement. She takes listeners on a journey around the world and leads them to an unfound discovery of the many dimensions of the violin and fiddle. She captures listeners' attention at the beginning and carries it throughout the entire CD." ~Diana Shores - Eastern Iowa Life

"Natalie Brown: Violin Crossings"

Natalie Brown is an Eastern Iowa music staple--playing violin/fiddle in a number of notable bands in the area including The Trollies, with Nikki Lunden, The Mayflies and with local guitar legend Craig Erickson in their latest jamband Planet Pluto. She is classically-trained and holds a degree in violin performance, a master’s in music education and is currently the orchestra director at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids.

Violin Crossings is the first solo album by Natalie Brown. Over a decade in the making, she says the album was inspired by--and is a celebration of--the musicians she has worked with over the years, some of whom make an appearance on the record.

Crossings is largely instrumental, save a slight re-wiring of the Charlie Daniels Band hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” featuring members of the Mayflies. The eleven songs cross a mélange of styles: the newgrass “Chit-Chat”; the bluesy “Dusk”; the fairly faithful rendition of Enya’s new age hit “Lazy Days”; the Celtic-tinged “The Star”; the spicy Latin of “Tango Por Enrico”; the light jazz-pop of “Jonchets.”

If the central character in this album is the virtuoso bow work by Brown, the supporting role is played by Craig Erickson. Violin Crossings was produced with Erickson and he contributes the majority of the guitar work on the album. Erickson’s progressive and jamband influences are strongly felt, in particular, on my favorite tracks on the album: “Ten Past the Dragon,” “The Wanderer,” and “Planet Pluto Strut.” On the first listen I was reminded of jazz-rock violinist Jean Luc Ponty, who Brown quickly admits is an influence for her.

Violin Crossings is--as its title suggests--a violin-guided journey through the diverse musical styles of which Brown is capable. She calls her first record a celebration and I feel that intention and spirit in each track. Violin Crossings is a calling card for what I can only hope will be further visits.

~Michael Roeder

December Issue of Little Village - The Little Village, Michael Roeder, Dec 1, 2010

"Natalie Brown Violin Crossings Iowa Source"

Iowa City’s passionate violinist Natalie Brown mixes Celtic, jazz, funk, folk, blue-grass, fusion, and other genres into her own personal style. The 11-track instrumental CD Violin Crossings reveals Natalie’s comfort moving deftly from one style to another. Her classical training shines brightly as a complement to her intriguing compositions.

On the track “Chit-Chat,” Natalie and company mix bluegrass and jazz with Brown’s violin, which is reminiscent of David Flamme’s soaring electric fiddle during his vintage run with the band It’s a Beautiful Day. On “Dusk,” you’ll find yourself in the back of a pick-up truck heading down a corn-lined Iowa country road, dust swirling just like Natalie’s fiddle-playing. My favorite is the 5:24-minute track “Schönbrunn” with its dreamy, down-tempo ethereal swoon and just enough reverb to transport the listener to the middle of a European cathedral. No matter what your musical tastes are, you’ll find some delightful moments with Natalie Brown. Stay alert to the calendar at the Mill in Iowa City, where Natalie can be found from time to time.

Andy Bargerstock - Iowa Source

"CD Review: Violin Crossings"

A classically trained violinist whose impressive academic bona fides include studying under the great Leopold LaFosse, The Mayflies' Natalie Brown also is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, but -- as the title suggests -- it's her "main ax" that's center-stage herein.
Vibrantly captured at Craig Erickson's Rivertown Recording (the legendary guitarist co-produces and contributes to several tracks), "Violin Crossings" includes a disparate pair of covers: a gorgeous, pastoral take on Enya's "Lazy Days" and a surprisingly fresh/invigorating run at Charlie Daniels warhorse "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" featuring a sterling cameo by The Mayflies' Stacy Webster (the album's only vocal, btw).

But it's on the nine wide-ranging Brown originals (expertly backed by hand-picked area luminaries) that her gifts for inventive arrangements, stylistic flexibility and nimble-fingered, joyous lyricality really shine; there's the power-stringband "Chit-Chat," the prog-stomper "Wanderer," the soaring fusion of "Planet Pluto Strut," the Celtic-flavored "The Star," a sultry tango, the fuel-injected rock of "Dusk" and the high-stepping, Grappelli-esque "Jonchets."

Melodious and powerful, it's a front-to-back winner. - Iowa City Press Citizen- Jim Musser

"Natalie Brown, Blues, Fusion, Rock for "Violin Crossings""

Natalie Brown will celebrate the release of her highly anticipated first studio recording “Violin Crossings” Sunday, November 14 from 6-10 pm at Parlor City Pub and Eatery, 1125 3rd St. S.E. in Cedar Rapids. Natalie Brown describes her freshman studio release of violin and fiddle as a mixture of Fusion, Rock, Celtic, Folk, Blues and Jazz.

With over a decade of pent up creativity in her back pocket, Natalie Brown entered Craig Erickson’s Rivertown Recording studio with a small militia of talented local musicians. What results is a thoroughly enjoyable journey through Brown’s minds eye via a variety of unique violin and fiddle personalities. The record has its poignant thoughtful moments, but is rife with upbeat, uplifting and positive music.

Brown informs that “Violin Crossings" comes from multiple associations, such as cross-cultural music, as well as the intersections between herself and other musicians. Brown reflects with ”the recording has a feeling of being live, in that the musicians were brought together from varying styles and backgrounds” adding “the music was created by interactions and spontaneity”.
Natalie began studying the Suzuki violin method at age five in Iowa City. Brown completed her Masters of Music Education from the University of Northern Iowa and is in her seventh year as orchestra director at Cedar Rapids Washington High School. Brown regularly sits in with a variety of performers and is a featured artist with Craig Erickson, the Mayflies and Nikki Lunden and the Trollies.
When Brown was jamming with Blues players in San Francisco, they referred to her style as “git-fiddler”. The term is defined as fiddling around on the guitar, a specific type of guitar playing, or a guitar-like style of fiddle playing. Unique stringed instrument sounds are no stranger to Craig Erickson, who was in the studio with Natalie, contributing guitars, kalimba and keyboards. The records first cut, "Ten Past the Dragon" is dedicated to Natalie’s magical musical memories of her time spent in San Francisco.

Of her long-standing musical relationship with Craig Erickson, Natalie states ”I could not have done this without Craig’s talent and guidance” adding “he challenges me always to push the envelope, to think and create on a deeper level.” Craig Erickson says the Violin Crossings recording is “like Jean Luc Ponty meets Mahavishnu Orchestra” adding “Natalie is like a chameleon in different musical situations and very versatile”.

Of their time spent on Erickson’s Planet Pluto project and their time in the studio, Craig informs “we both speak multiple languages in music, she’s a great positive person to work with, always excited and on an even keel” adding “I knew it was going to be good, but her record exceeded my greatest expectations. It’s just plain fun!”

The Natalie Brown “Violin Crossings” CD Release Party at Parlor City is part of the pub’s ongoing Sunday music series. There will not be a cover charge for the Natalie Brown performance at Parlor City Pub.

- Linn County Blues Society

"Natalie Brown"

Extraordinary violinist & passionate performer, Natalie takes things to a whole new level whenever she steps on the stage. When sitting in with any of the myriad perfomers that have been so fortunate as to have shared a stage with her, she always shines and leaves us wanting more. - Kimberly Maloy, Iowa Acoustic Music


Tracks from current album, Violin Crossings are streaming online and getting radio airplay!

Violin Crossings Natalie Brown 2010

Contemplations ~Demo~ Natalie Brown 2010

Craig Erickson's "The Porch of Planet Pluto" 2009

Nikki Lunden's "Depends on the Weather" 2008

Jefferson Bergey's album, winter 2003

Bad Fathers album 2003

"Roundtrip Weekend", The Trollies, May 2002

"Fountain Pennies", The Trollies, May 2001

"AV-1", Label YMP, July 2000

"Phase Three, Stage One", Label YMP, February 12, 2000

"Oh For the Love of Christmas", Label YMP, November 24, 1999

"Oh For the Love of Summer", Label YMP, July 17, 1999

Ten Past the Dragon, 3 song EP, 1999 (Produced by Bob, San Francisco)



"Extraordinary violinist passionate performer, Natalie takes things to a whole new level whenever she steps on the stage. When sitting in with any of the myriad performers that have been so fortunate as to have shared a stage with her, she always shines and leaves us wanting more."~ Iowa Acoustic Music

Natalie Brown: Violin Crossings - November 2010 - funk, blues, rock, Celtic, fusion, new age - "Melodious and powerful, it's a front-to-back winner." Jim Musser, Iowa City Press Citizen (Nov 11, 2010)

Influences: Jean Luc Ponty, Bela Fleck, Mark O'Connor, Darol Anger, Stephane Grappelli

Genres: Folk, world, rock, jazz, Celtic, funk, fusion

Natalie is a current member of
Natalie Brown & Craig Erickson e-coustic Experience(fusion/funk)
The Mayflies (bluegrass-rock)
Co-founder of The Trollies (acoustic rock/blues –since 2000)
Cedar River Rats (jazz-bluegrass)
now!s (grunge)
…among other projects!

Natalie started Suzuki violin at age 5 at the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City where she studied with Sonja Zeithamel. She received her Bachelor’s in violin performance at the University of Iowa, studying with Leopold LaFosse. She also participated in jazz, ethnomusicology, recording engineering studies and theatre performances at the U of I. She received her Music Education certification from Coe College, and recently completed Masters of Music Education from University of Northern Iowa. Natalie is in her eighth year as orchestra director at Cedar Rapids Washington High School.
Instruments: Violin, fiddle, mandolin, viola, guitar, bass, piano, accordian, dobro, lap steel, bagpipes, djembe, er-hu, banjo
Typical onstage equipment: 1987 William Harris Lee acoustic violin with Fishman pickup. Various electric violins. Fender FM 62-SCE acoustic/electric mandolin. Peavey KB/A60 amp, Fishman LoudBox amp, Epiphone EP-1000R amp. Effects pedals - Morely Bad Horsie 2 wah, Korg ToneWorks Guitar AX1, Boss Digitial Delay/Reverb, Boss RC-20 loop, Boss distortion, Octave, Blues Driver, DigiLab chorus and delay pedals.