HANFORD – “We’ve got 35 minutes to put on the best show we’ve ever done,” local musician JJ Brown said.
Brown, a Hanford-based country artist, begins the most important tour of his career to this point with a show at Hop Forged Brewing Company on Friday night.
Subsequently, Brown and his band will perform in Los Osos Saturday before leaving on a jet plane for Nashville, where they’ll perform a record label showcase at Alan Jackson’s Good Time Bar. That show is part of the grand prize of winning the KJUG County Talent Showdown in September.
“Sure, you’re always going to have someone yelling ‘Freebird,’ but I think people respond to good music,” Brown said.
Bringing good, original music to Nashville’s Broadway scene is exactly what Brown intends to do. The musician will perform at the Good Time Bar next week not only in front of record label executives, but also die-hard country fans in town for the County Music Awards, many of whom will be seeing — and hearing Brown for the first time.
He admits it’s something of a gamble, but rather than try to win the crowd over with covers of classic songs by other artists, he’ll be performing his own material for the vast majority of the set.
“I want to really showcase my writing and performing skills. I’ve never had an opportunity where record labels are coming out to see me, so I didn’t want to drown those out with covers,” he said.
In addition to having faith in his own material, Brown has a couple of aces up his sleeve in the form of a song-length medley of some of his favorite country songs he’ll perform as well as a crew of Hanford locals and family members from the south and mid-west that will be in the crowd lending their vocal support.
The timing of the trip — the week of Veterans Day — is appropriate as Brown served in the Navy for five years, including time overseas while on board the USS Enterprise and the USS Nimitz attached to VFA-14 at Naval Air Station Lemoore.
Brown will also attend the Country Music Awards next week, though that aspect of the trip is far from his mind as he prepares and rehearses for his showcase, he said.
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“If I can put on a good show on the 12th and walk away knowing I did my best and gave the best of myself, from there I’m mentally free to go celebrate,” he said.
To kick off the trip, Brown will perform at Hop Forged Brewing Company located at 106 W. 7th St., in downtown Hanford Friday night.
The show will also mark the official naming of one of the brewery’s four core brews — a designation only held by one other beer on tap.
Hop Forged’s hazelnut brown was dubbed the “Downtown JJ Brown” for a single night over the summer in honor of the musician during a performances at the pub. Brown said that at a subsequent beer-naming party hosted by Hop Forged, the name stuck and, as of Friday, will become the official name of the brew.
“It feels kind of odd, but it’s super cool,” Brown said. “It’s quickly become my favorite beer.”
The night will begin at 7 p.m. with a performance by local musician Timothy Mattos followed by a performance by On a Saturday, a band made up of Kings River Middle School students.
“These kids are terrific,” Brown said. “They opened up for us last time we played Hop Forged and they were just awesome. They blew me away so we asked them back.”
The Josh Day Band will perform as well and Brown’s performance at the end of the night will feature many guest musicians.
The show is free and open to all ages.