Trey Brown
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Trey Brown

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Odessa Native Debuts First Album"

Southbound on the Drag, Trey Brown deliberates for a second on where his interview should be held.

"There's Metro down the block," he says as he strolls down Guadalupe with a cowboyish gait, his sneaker-clad feet popping up as if spurs were attached to his heels. Then he stops.

"You're 21, right?" he asks and receives a nod.

"Let's hit Hole in the Wall," he says, turning 180 degrees and toward the bar/restaurant. "I could cool down with a beer."

Observing Brown's mannerisms, you get a sense of his subtle self-assurance. Upon talking to him, he exudes ambition that's either pie-in-the-sky or down-to-earth - or maybe somewhere in between.

His goals sound more like quiet guarantees.

"I plan on winning this Kerrville thing tomorrow," he says, referring to an April 8 songwriting competition in which the winners were awarded with the chance to perform at the annual 18-day folk festival in Kerrville.

Brown's cool confidence afforded him a victory at the contest, and he is looking forward to shaking things up at the festival this May. He joins a list of up-and-coming performers that features local fiddle-friendly, acoustic-rock outfit the South Austin Jug Band and Anais Mitchell, a crafty singer-poetess whose 2007 release launched under Ani DiFranco's label, Righteous Babe Records.

This July, he'll be performing at WoodyFest, the annual folk festival held in Woody Guthrie's hometown of Okemah, Okla.

Brown, 21, manages his musical endeavors while attending school full-time. He feels he's already found his niche with songwriting. While Brown says he has other career paths he can pursue or skills he can exploit, writing music, he says, comes naturally to him.

"If I were a soldier or played basketball, I'd still be writing songs on the side. It just happens," he says, his locks splaying over his eyebrow. "It's not something I can really negotiate. This is my well. I can keep drawing from it forever."

On March 17, Brown released his first formal album. Brown produced most of the record, entitled Smoke A'risin', which contains songs he wrote as far back as four years ago. He started writing songs when he was 14.

Brown thanks a number of people inside the fold. The list includes the name Steven Duque, his childhood friend whose original work inspired him to write his own music.

The going wasn't always easy. Dissatisfied with the songs he was writing and eager to impress his friends, Brown started learning songs by obscure musicians and passing them off as his own.

Brown's conscience caught up to him, though, and he eventually confessed to his friends.

"You could argue about the morality of that, but in this youthful situation I only got to do so much damage. Not enough damage to do any kind of Milli Vanilli stuff," he says.

Brown grew up in the West Texas town of Odessa, where he wanted to "get the hell out of there."

"Odessa's a desert town, and it's a dead-end town. So I was looking for the most complete foil to my situation," he says.

In the fall of 2005, Brown enrolled at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., the only school to which he applied.

Although he says he made a lot of friends in California, he says many of the people he encountered were shortsighted, materialistic and had narrow outlooks on life. Yet, Brown trekked back to Texas mainly because of his musical aspirations. He settled in Austin with the prospect of recording an album here.

Unsigned, he hopes to eventually win a contract with a record label.

"The end game is to be able to support myself with this so I have time to write what I really want to write. It's hard to do that when you're going to school at the same time," he says.

The realization of that goal hinges on the success of his self-released debut. If Brown sells enough records, it will enable him to record another album.

Otherwise easygoing, Brown turns urgent when explaining his steadfast pursuit of a music career: "I could go back to school when I'm 30, but the truth of the matter is that I could not be a popular songwriter when I'm 30. It's gotta be now or never."

- Daily Texan

"CD Review: Smoke a'Risin'"

Trey Brown
Smoke A'risin'
(**** 4/5 stars)

Though there are few subgenres in rock music that can get older quicker than alt-country, Trey Brown dispels any concerns of monotony within the first three songs of his debut album, Smoke A'risin'. "The Miser," "Cannon Fodder" and "Don't You See?" are all evocative, melodic mid-tempo compositions. They share the same general musical approach but Brown's authoritative, silken voice makes each track unique.

Brown is about more than pretty melodies and husky vocals, though. Throughout A'risin', Brown uses ghostly vocals and reverb-filled production to add a cosmic, far-gazing gleam to his songs. "Kill to Cull" feels like Radiohead, while "Just Sittin' There" uses a haunting refrain and backup vocals to remain indelible after the fade-out.

This is a strong debut that reveals Trey Brown as a gifted singer/songwriter. There is enough invention and craft in the music to make it memorable and individual. Smoke A'risin' is the work of a promising artist to keep an eye on.

- Jack Frink - Daily Texan

"Trey Brown - Smoke a'Risin'"

When one first hears "Canon Fodder" the second song on Trey Brown's debut album it is refreshing. This is a song that has a great acoustic riff leading the song along with powerful lyrics and structure. This could be said about the whole album. The refreshing part is, it is all done with ease. Trey does not try to hard. No forced melodies or obtrusive over production.

One of the top songs is the jazzy "strollin", the song is about over ambition and the narrator saying you wont find him caught up in the rat race. He is strolling through time and not worrying too much. This is an apt analogy to the album as a whole. Brown knows he feels and is merely expressing it. He is not trying too hard or saying too much.

Brown is also a romantic. In the song "Good Times" Brown talks about trying to reach out to a lover who is "too scared to hear me (him) out." Like "strollin" Brown is not too aggressive or too self involved. Rather, he is lamenting the fact he can't get through to a person he cares about.

Musically this album incorporates the best aspects of folk with a strong semblance of acoustic rock such as Neil Young's "Harvest" or early James Taylor. The slide guitar and cerebral piano parts leave the album with a thin harmonic sound.

What I really like about "Smoke a Risin" isn't all the things I have already mentioned. It's simple enough to talk about lyrics, aims, structure and all the critical etceteras, but it's very difficult to pinpoint what it is that's actually moved you. It has to do with essences, I think, and all those corny virtues like truth, courage, conviction, kindness and the rest of them.

In other words, as impressed as I am with Trey Brown's art, I'm even more impressed with the humanity that shines through it. Maybe they're inseparable, but I doubt it.

-Trey Brown "Smoke a Risin'" is available on itunes, Facebook, and My Space


"iTunes Customer Reviews"

"Not Since Neil Young" by Jay Gatsby_1984
"Not Only do the songs have greeat lyrics and melodies, he is a gifted vocalist." ***** (5 stars)

"Smoke A'Risin by Trey Brown" by Nelson David
***** (5 Stars)
"Perfect blend of rock and country. Probably the best new singer/songwriter I can remember since John Mayer. This guy has talent and imagination."

"Thoughtful, talented and unique" by Meadow Dancer
-"This guy writes from his gut, heart, soul and you can tell the minute you play any of his songs. His thoughtful lyrics are backed with an incredible voice, so distinctive he reminds me of Bob Dylan. His songs are the kind you wanna learn how to play and never get t
ired of hearing."
(*****) 5 stars. - iTunes

"Sound Reviews: Trey Brown - Smoke a'Risin"

In Short: It’s more alt-country, but it’s actually pretty good even though it’s not as gravelly as is fashionable these days.

It’s been a week without anything i’ve been excited to see out on the town, but i’ve had the continued fortune of reviewing another record. So, i suppose i will drop this one to keep the updates coming. Austin local Trey Brown’s new release, Smoke a’Risin, is another of the line of alt-country records i have been asked to listen to. Again, i protest that this is not my genre of choice, but this album is quite mellow the whole way through; which is good, if you are in the mood for it. I cant really put my finger on it, and i think that is because the album meanders. At one point it sounds like Jack Johnson joined a country band, as in “Sadness Soldier’s Lawyer” and at other times sounds more dark and pointed, as in “Just Sittin’ There…”. Passioned, maybe sometimes, but other times light and foot tapping. Not many albums i have review have seemed as relaxed as this one, which is probably to its benifit; because, usually when i listen to a record i can tell what is is going for. Whether or not it is succesful is the only thing to decide. However, Smoke a’Risin doesn’t really seem to try, but in a good way. It was too up beat to be an art-record, but the mood is much too serious to be pop. Basically, i like it, and it’s made for a radio station like KGSR. I could totally see that: “Next up, we have Trey Brown playing something off Smoke a’Risin… Keep it here on KGSR.” Yea, it just seems to fit there, but even though i approve i dont want to seem like i was in love with it. It’s was definitely alright though. Still, due to my more electrocentric tastes in music, i probably wouldn’t have picked it up in the first place. -

"Trey Brown - Smoke a'Risin (SR)"

Trey Brown stands tall and lanky in front of a lone microphone with his acoustic guitar strapped low around his chest. The speakers are propped unsteadily on the seats of two metal lawn chairs on either side of him. He plays to a crowd of 10 or so at the coffee shop in June - a crowd he has become accustomed to. The Odessa, TX native cut his musical baby teeth playing coffee shops while attending Pepperdine University in California, and eventually settling back in Austin. Long, curly hair tossed haphazardly, dressed in baggy jeans with an untucked shirt, he softly addresses the crowd regarding his first studio release, Smoke A’Risin.

Brown describes his songwriting as “surfer-western” and began recording Smoke A’Risin in Austin at Superpop Records throughout the summer and fall of 2007. He credits his sound to the legendary folk and Americana artists that have been time stamped before him - M. Ward, Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, Robert Earl Keen, and Townes Van Zandt.

His music complements a coffee shop atmosphere, soft and upbeat without being intruding. He sings simple melodies with an acoustic twist and a husky voice that includes a twang putting folksy in the forefront and evoking a maturity well beyond his 21 years.

Brown has the ability to produce an album that involves a myriad of sounds, and there is no singularity in style in Smoke A’Risin. One could debate if this is a strength or if this is because Brown is a young artist who is still perfecting his sound. From true country/bluegrass/appalachian tones to songs that seem more often John Mayer/Jack Johnson influenced pop he awakens a range that most artists cannot aspire. Cut like the the title track, “Good Times,” and “Cannon Fodder” stand out from the rest of the album. They’re sound that seems to best suit Brown: simple acoustic guitar accompanied by a voice that channels Neil Young. “Cannon Fodder” feeds a bit of structured jazziness into the folkiness. Other tracks include harmony and fuller instrumentation that echo elements elements of pop, Nathan Browns light piano and organ accenting Seth Gibbs slide guitar and Bill Doughty percussion. Some tracks, such as “Kill to Cull,” are haunting and leave the pop influence far behind, creating a more ethereal sound that showcases the influence of M. Ward.

Overall, there is an attempt at depth in the lyrics and sound, but Brown’s strength seems to be in his ability to simplify his sound to an acoustic guitar and lyrics with sincerity. Brown is a promising, young artist that will likely continue to contribute an authentic sound as time passes and he sharpens his sound and songwriting. -

"Soloist Hits Sandbar, Hollywood"

Assistant A&E Editor

Trey Brown stands outside of The Viper Room in Hollywood with his musical equipment on a weekday night. He is not yet 21 and cannot go in the venue. Unlike most other underage people, he will get inside eventually. He is performing a gig tonight, after all. However, he cannot enter until the time of his performance.

“It was kind of intimidating,� Brown said. However, it certainly did not stop him from performing to a lively crowd. And since then, this Pepperdine sophomore has played many venues ranging from such places as UnUrban in Santa Monica to Joes in Calabasas, and tonight, he will be showcasing his talent in a Coffeehouse in the Sandbar at 8:30 p.m.

“It’s hard to get people out to my shows,� Brown said while scratching his lips. Therefore, Brown said his main goal for his Sandbar performance is to get people to come out who do not normally hear him play.

Brown has always played in the Pepperdine Coffeehouses, but this will be the first one he’s headlining. His show will last a little over one hour. Brown said he anticipates a “good seamless show, like a movie.�

But, unlike a movie, there will be more than soda and popcorn. Brown is a vegetarian and will serve an unusal fare of snacks to feast on including hummus, pita chips and vegetarian spring rolls. Brown credits the Student Programming Board for providing him with a lot of support of having his own show. He said there is a lot less pressure to play at Pepperdine versus other venues.

“I don’t really have to sell myself,� he said.

Despite Brown’s experience with performing, he remains humble.

“There are so many phenomenal artists out there,� he said, while rubbing his curly, golden-brown hair. Although Brown is an Asian studies major, he hopes to make a living off of music one day. He said he realizes it is hard to break into, and said signing with a label does not guarantee money. Watching him strum his hands along to a song while humming makes it obvious how much he does love music.

“It’s like asking me why I like water,� he said. “I can’t separate life from music — you can find music in everything.�

Brown refers to his music as “indie acoustic,� although he said there are a lot of types of music he plays and believes it’s limiting to get caught up in genres.

“I’ll leave it up to the critics if I’m lucky enough to have them,� he said. His greatest influences are M. Ward and Nick Drake.

Friend Erin Wyche compares Brown’s music to Jack Johnson or John Mayer.

“Trey is a very unique guy,� says Wyche. “His music comes through from his personality.�

Brown is a self-taught songwriter, guitarist and singer, and has had no actual music classes besides choir.

“I don’t really know jack about music,� he said. “It is whatever sounds good to me.�

Brown has played in a band before, but so far, prefers to work solo. Although, he said he expects to play in a band eventually on the side.

Brown grew up in the town of Odessa, Texas. He said he did not appreciate it at the time, but reflecting back, he has realized how good it was for him in terms of his group of friends. It was also where he started to get into playing music as a sophomore in high school.

However, Brown said he didn’t get serious about music until coming to Pepperdine, a place that has introduced him to emotions that compel him to write music.

Brown said it takes him 10 minutes to a few days to write a song and uses every single moment to influence his material.

Brown said he mostly wrote about love, but he has started to break into new subjects. “Love gets old, man,� he said. “You’re not always a love bird. Some things become more pressing at the moment.�

For Brown, some of those things include the environment and politics.

“I’m very interested in change,� Brown said. Additionally, he uses politics as a means to write lyrics.

“I should write a letter to George Bush thanking him for giving me stuff to write about,� he said.

In 2005, Brown started the Young Libertarian club at Pepperdine. However, he found students to be apathetic and not many people showed up.

Brown said he is also very interested in traveling and hiking, spending three to five days on the trails. He also works at KWVS and is able to play the music he wants, including his own.

“It’s some of the perks,� he said.

Brown will be selling his 12-track CD at his performance tonight for $5. - The Graphic (Pepperdine University)


Smoke a'Risin' - 2008
- Available on iTunes and
- Available at Waterloo Records, Cheapo Discs, Antone's Records.
- Available through
-Featured on KVRX Austin's Texas Music Minute

KVRX's Texas Music Mixtape (2009)
- Feature's "Don't You See?" from Smoke a'Risin

Trey Brown & Mission Dorado (2010)



Trey's music just rolls right out there like the desert wind. It doesn't have anything to hide, doesn't sneak around corners, it just hits you like it is till you realize you've been standin' out there on the plain, so vulnerable and you didn't even know it. If there's one kind of feeling that's left, its the kind of refreshing realism of a message and and artist that cuts to the heart and the bone of the stuff that matters.

Flanked by the penetrating delivery of Christopher Cox's bass and Matt Shepherd's eclectic drum delivery, Trey's sophomore album, Trey Brown & Mission Dorado, is an uncompromising show of original voice, message, and style. It's country-rock with finesse. Its rock-pop with a brain. Its folk without a funny hat. Ten all original compositions produced and recorded in a matter of days on 2" analog tape capturing all the music in its original uncut, untampered form. "There really ain't a story to it", says Brown. "I just wrote some songs, put a team together, and we knocked it out in a couple days. Pretty simple."

Brown took the special care to craft his crew the same way he does his lyrics, with style and precision. Brown hooked up with creative producer Bill Baird (Sunset, Soundteam), the Tosca String Quartet (Spoon, Ray LaMontagne) and filmmaker Victor Moyers (Echotone, Skateland) and others to create a true piece of artistic integrity.

The twang and the swagger. The fang and the dagger. Its the double edged sword of a music velvet enough to lay you down but sharp enough to keep you up at night. It started in West Texas while Brown grew up absorbing all the hard, ironic beauty around him. It took a cruise on a long L.A. freeway and has since settled into Austin's incubator. Since settling in Austin, Trey's recorded two albums, the first a critically acclaimed debute, Smoke a'Risin, represented the University of Texas at Kerrville Folk Festival, and was featured as an official SXSW 2009 performer. But Trey Brown & Mission Dorado won't stay secret for long. Look for the boys to be hittin' the road hard after the all-vinyl and digital release of Trey Brown & Mission Dorado in October of 2010.