Introduction / Chronology

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Songwriter / The Father of Dank Country

(photo by William Purcell)

In our stepping back to gain a better view, Patrick Brayer has seemed to have spent as much time shadow boxing his way in diversion from fame, as he has chiseling any day to day placement for himself in the present day annals of contemporary songsmithing. Brayer’s associations, collaborations, and influence upon such historically embedded artists as, Alison Krauss, Alan Jackson, Ben Harper, Stuart Duncan, Chris Darrow, Darol Anger, Atreyu, and Michael Hedges are tales well documented and that can’t be denied without equal creativity. But that is just the mere residue of a life’s work, it is not the work itself. On this current site we hope to educate an audience to the inner workings of a craftsman, a master of lo-fi composition, and a talent that welled up from the life of one who was raised up from a hard scrabble existence by simple people of both West Virginian, and Slovene origins.

Settling in the steelmill town of Fontana California in the year of 1958, Brayer’s earliest memories are of his egg ranch surroundings, the dirt parking lot honky tonks, and the African American drill teams of the Northern Fontana foothills. Brayer wrote its dank history on a series of Gibson Hummingbirds, Martin D41’s, and Gretsch Rancher guitars like no other Fontanan before him, not Sammy Hagar, not Joseph Wambaugh, nor Shelton Brooks.  He came of age romanticizing the ‘depression-like Icarus falling’ of the Kaiser Steelmill, and the eventual Altamont embarrassment of the town’s Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club origins.

Full Album

If his attributes tell an interesting story of a new wave of American Music, then his lyrics tell of a more perfectly articulated confession of what is good and honest about growing up, and there and then, as a life’s calling, making the mythology of his surroundings as real and with blood flowing as is feasibly possible, and then by the end of every song always visualizing a way back home with more heart than pen.

It will be our job here to supply you with the raw facts concerning the meanderings of a poetic life, and a guide through the fifty odd volumes of his recorded works, The Secret Hits of Patrick Brayer.  Brayer’s involvement in this web arena will be only to profile the influences on him, which he believes to be a story of a grander importance, and in his mind if it opens up a dialogue on the craft of a song-written dimension, it will pay its own way, regardless of how shabby, through the eye of his world’s world.

What we believe to be the most interesting aspect of this web-collaboration, one between the artist and the critic, will be the balanced pull between our focus on his inner work, and his every cooperative attempt to lean us elsewhere towards his outside world.

Ivory Jackson / The Fontucky Mind Museum / (Curator)

A Short Chronological Trip to the Attribute Farm

1979:  Brayer solo LP released, Cold Feelings, which included, Craig Smith, and legendary cat gut wizard Stuart Duncan’s historic session recording debut.

1983:  Larry Sparks (The Stanley Brothers) records Brayer’s Imitation of the Blues.

1990: John Doe (X) records, Imitation of the Blues.

1994:  Stuart Duncan records Brayer’s, Lonely Moon, on his self titled Rounder CD, which was produced by Bela Fleck and nominated for a Grammy that same year.

Jack Hardy records Brayer’s Three Kind of News in performance live from The Bottom Line in New York City for Fast Folk Magazine (Smithsonian-Folkways).

1995:  Brayer appears on a live CD recorded at the Bottom Line in New York, performing his, Bourbon as a Second Language. Those recordings were then bought up from Fast Folk Magazine and are now made available by The Smithsonian Institute, on their Smithsonian-Folkways label.

1996:  In the year end issue of Rolling Stone Magazine Ben Harper sites Brayer’s Secret Hits as one of his top ten musical choices of the year, straddling alongside the likes of Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, and the Foo Fighters.

Also that year, Brayer returns to The Bottom Line in New York,  recording a live version of his, Straight Life, No Chaser, which is also now available from Smithsonian-Folkways.

1997:  Alison Krauss records Brayer’s co-write, So Long, So Wrong, as the title track to her platinum follow up. The CD won three Grammys, a Gold Record, and Brayer’s contribution won ‘Song of the Year’ on the IBMA charts.

Also that year Brayer appears on Ben Harper’s CD, Will to Live (Virgin Records).

Again in ’97 Brayer’s song, Turn Your Love Down, performed by North Carolina’s ASH&W, appeared on the 4CD box set collection celebrating the 35th year of the iconic Bluegrass label, Rebel Records.


1998:  The Aim Recording Company releases a compilation of Brayer performances on the CD, titled Sinner/Songwriter.  Of some historic note is the cover photograph of Fontana Development by Robert Morrow which was an out-take from his images taken for the best selling book, City of Quartz by author Mike Davis (Random House), who was also (no coincidence) a Fontana native.

2001:  Alison Krauss records Brayer’s slide guitar arrangement of, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn, with Jerry Douglas (2001 Grammy winner, and 2002 CMA Musician of the Year) doing the slide honors, and Dan Tyminski (who went on to win a Grammy as well as the ‘IBMA male vocalist of the year’ in 2001) handled the vocal duties. The CD was titled, New Favorite, and garnered both Gold Record status and itself a Grammy Award.  This songs first performances appeared on the now historic “Down From the Mountain” tour, then promoting the Coen Brother’s film, “Oh Brother Where Art Thou”.

Also in 2001, Ben Harper co-produces a reissue of Brayer’s, Secret Hits Volume 9: Catholic and Western Fabuli as the pilot project for his new independent label, Inland Emperor Records.

Also in 2001 Brayer in profiled in the October issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine by the magazine’s senior editor Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers.

Brayer-Acoustic Guitar Magazine 2001

2002:    The Smithsonian Institute compilation, Fast Folk: a community of singers and songwriters, includes a re-issue of Brayer’s Bottom Line performance of, Bourbon as a Second Language. Other performers on the compilation include, Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Steve Forbert, and David Van Ronk.

Also in ‘02 country-rock pioneer Chris Darrow record’s Brayer’s, Good Imitation of the Blues, for Taxim Records of Germany.

2003:  Brayer appears with Ben Harper on the CD tribute to Waylon Jennings, I’ve always Been Crazy (RCA). The compilation also included the likes of Kid Rock, James Hetfield, John Mellencamp, Dwight Yokam, and Pin Monkey.

I've Always Been Crazy_

Also in ’03, Brayer’s adaptaion of, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn, appeared on the live CD and DVD, Alison Krauss and Union Station:Live, both projects going to Platinum status.

Also in ‘03 Brayer is quoted in the book, The Complete Singer-Songwriter by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, a study that also include entries by Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, James Taylor, and Paul Simon.

2005: Two Brayer collaborations with Alison Krauss reappear on the Sony Records 4CD retrospective Box Set, Bluegrass: 80 Years of American Music: Can’t You Hear Me Callin’

2005 also marked the appearance of another tribute oriented release, this of an 8CD set collection of Brayer’s archival recordings of the last days of the Inland Empire’s most regionally known and nationally respected poet, Dick Barnes.

2007:  Alan Jackson records Brayer’s, Good Imitation of the Blues, on the CD, Like Red on a Rose (Arista).  This project reached #1 status on the Country Music charts, as well as #4 on the pop charts in October of that year.

Like Red On A Rose Cov

Also in 2007, in the grandest form of cultural exchange, Brayer appeared playing pedal steel and turkish saz with dark pop scream metal legends Atreyu on their CD, Lead Sails, Paper Anchor (Hollywood Records). This groundbreaking project produced by John Feldmann (Hllary Duff, The Used) reached #14 on the Billboard Charts.

Lead Sails CD cov

Also in 2007, the Brayer penned, So Long, So Wrong, appears as the favorite song of two star crossed lovers divided by time travel in a Sci-Fi fantasy artfully embedded in the story line of Aury Wallington’s novel, Saving Charlie. The book was the inspiration for the T.V. series, Heroes (NBC).

Also in 2007 rock-lord Robert Plant covered the Brayer/Krauss/Union Station adaptation of The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn on CMT’s Crossroads television show, recorded on Oct. 18, 2007 in Lesbon, Tennessee.