Greg Brown's mother played electric guitar, his grandfather played banjo, and his father was a Holy Roller preacher in the Hacklebarney section of Iowa, where the Gospel and music are a way of life. Brown's first professional singing job came at age 18 in New York City, running hootenannies (folksinger get-togethers) at the legendary Gerdes Folk City. After a year, Brown moved west to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where he was a ghostwriter for Buck Ram, founder of the Platters. Tired of the fast-paced life, Brown traveled with a band for a few years, and even quit playing for a while before he moved back to Iowa and began writing songs and playing in mid-western clubs and coffeehouses.
Brown's songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Shawn Colvin, and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Greg Brown, accomplished songwriter, co-founder of the influential indie roots label Red House and former musical director for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio program, is a prolific songwriter…and it’s a good thing. As the result of a fateful lighting strike on the studio where he was working, Brown lost the recordings that were to comprise his next album. For most artists, losing that much material would have been a creatively scarring and demoralizing experience. For Greg, it was just an excuse to turn inward once again, and write more songs. Of the songs that came to comprise his 24th album,Freak Flag, the title track is all that remains of that ill-fated lost original album. Greg wrote ten new songs, moving on to record them at Memphis, Tennessee’s legendary Ardent Studios. This time there were no storms, but creative lightning did strike again, resulting in what many have called Greg’s best album.