Rachel Brown

(the 3rd of 4 pieces I wrote for the 3rd Annual Blue Sky Festival for possible press — they’re appearing today at 4pm)

Rachel & The Beatnik Playboys

Retro honky-tonkers Rachel & The Beatnik Playboys will be the local headliner at the 3rd Annual Blue Sky Folk Festival May 4, 2013 in Kirtland, Ohio.

Listening to Rachel’s home page song snippets takes me back to Patsy Cline on early 1960’s country radio and 1970’s bluesy Bonnie Raitt.

Rachel has a big voice. A pretty voice. Full. Rich. Powerful. Smooth. Strong. Sure. Versatile. Beautiful. And the woman can whisper or wail at will.

Toss in her excellent taste in backing musicians and great choice of story songs from the likes of Tom Waits, Dolly Parton, Chuck Berry and Randy Newman, and you’ve a varied merry musical evening.

Her solid old-school country fused with blues, rock, jazz, swing, funk, and soul makes for good listening and dancing. She also plays a mean piano along with a host of other instruments; and just like Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, she jumps genres at the drop of a cowboy hat.

Her home page says it best:

“Rachel & The Beatnik Playboys is a band comprised of four professional musicians with long histories in playing roots/americana, blues, country, rock, jazz and swing. In any given performance, one might hear Junior Wells or Kitty Wells, George Jones, or the Rolling Stones. The Beatnik Playboys feel that their audiences, like themselves, can love a lot of different musical styles.” (

The band consists of Rachel Brown on piano, Bill Watson bass, Roy King percussion, and Dave Huddleston guitar

Rachel has been singing, writing songs, and playing multiple instruments for over 25 years, opening for such greats as Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Scaggs, and The Judds.

She also performs in Hillbilly Idol, and previously played with The Damn, New Frontier, Blue Moon Express, Sidewinder, Buckshot, and Kalico, and lives a second life as a Cleveland west side middle-school music teacher with a masters degree in classical piano with choral emphases.

Bassist Bill Watson also performs with The Numbers Band, Hillbilly Idol, Alex Bevan, and Clearfork as well as having played with The Damn Band, Reckless Abandon, Mimi Hart & The Bopkats, Deadly Ernest & The Honky Tonk Heroes, Gopher Broke Swing Band, Smackinrrouge, and Better ‘n Bacon Band.

Drummer Roy King has played with Mose Allison, Bucky Pizzerelli, Eddie Bo, Johnny Gimble, and Jay McShann, along with such local greats Alex Bevan, the Gopher Broke Swing Band, Mike Petrone, and Joe Hunter. He also teaches percussion at Woodsys Music in Kent and Medina, and leads his own jazz trio.

Guitarist Dave Huddleston is a vocalist, guitarist, and bassist whose influences include Bach, Artie Shaw, Elvis, the Temptations, the Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, 1960s TV themes, Gaetano Veloso, Chaka Khan, U2, the Bee Gees, the Isley Brothers, Frankie Valli, Ennio Morricone, Buck Owens.

Their album “Just Look My Way” was released in February. They are scheduled to play from 4-5pm at Blue Sky.

You can friend them on Facebook:

hear them on Reverbnation:

or watch them on YouTube:
“Love Me Like a Man” – (Bonnie Raitt)
“You Don’t Know Me” — (Eddy Arnold)
“Grand Tour” – (George Jones)
“I Just Wanna Dance With You” – (John Prine)

The 3rd Annual Blue Sky Folk Festival Saturday, May 4, 2013 is a day-long folk music jam with workshops, great food, and an inside main stage. New this year: more tents for jammers and a dance floor near the main stage. More details at Bring your blankets & lawn chairs. There is a playground and storytelling for the kids. Bring your instrument to jam and get a $5 discount. Come enjoy local artists playing original music.

On the grounds of the East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, 10848 Chillicothe Rd / SR 306, 1/4 mile south of SR 6 in Kirtland, Ohio. Tickets $10 at the door, $8 seniors 65+, kids are free! 11:00am until 7:00pm. Service dogs only at the festival, please.

— Steven B. Smith, 4.5.2013 for Blue Sky Folk Festival

Rachel Brown

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