Traveling troubadour, deejay and writer, Chad Brown, is visiting Philly this week, revisiting his Lonesome Cowboy days (see our connecting post here). I recently got the chance to ask him a few questions about his home away from home and how he got to be so dern innerestin’.
Are you from Philly?/What brought you here?
Ostensibly. I’m of Oregonian stock but went to Drexel University in the early 1990’s and am a big fan of its co-op program. After being raised as a bit of a nomad I find that, more and more, I feel a strong, motherly pull to Philadelphia. I’m proud to say I’m from here and you do meet a lot of Philadelphia lawyers out in the wild west!
You’re awfully tall, how tall are you?
Six foot five inches plus the addition of any heeled footwear. I seem to still be reaching skyward as I gauge the vertical limits of Los Angeles, my current ranch.
I heard you were a rower–how did you get involved in that and did you get to row at Drexel?
My brother Douglas is two years older than I am and bushwacked the Drexel experience. Noticing his attraction to the river, I followed suit in a show of athletic solidarity. We both were part of the varsity eight that took a Dad Vail bronze in 1996. After that, brother and I moved over to the Undine Barge Club and the world of sculling. That move took us across the ocean to Europe and some fine times that resulted in my current “snorkeller’s” build. I miss the river and the camaraderie of the blade.
How did you get your start deejaying and what made you start the Small Town Talk collective?
I started deejaying around town and on 91.7 WKDU in mid 1990’s. I’m notching off 10 years as The Lonesome Cowboy this year and remember the night I was given the name by four highwaymen that flew out of the sky and demanded I start playing country records with soul. It was fun to go from the KDU studio right onto the river in the early mornings with the sound of a pedal still in my head mixing with the splash of the Schuylkill. After moving out to Los Angeles and the west in 2001, I deejayed around the City of Angels and remotely maintained a radio program in Marfa, Texas and. I met some like-minders named Jed and Zach and we started the Small Town Talk collective last year as a mind melding exercise using vinyl as the glue.
Tell us a little bit about your newer ventures, ie–writing, modeling, acting, musical performing.
Los Angeles is a Whitman’s Sampler of opportunity, so a guy can find himself in several modes of expression. I’ve done a few national commercials and editorial campaigns on the glamour side of the lens and also have picked up pen to paper, resulting in my current obsession that has taken me to the far off country of Malaysia on a wild ride motion picture project. We’re using independent methods so it’s a high risk high return affair but, as in everything, persistence and positivity make ideas realities. To cool the jets and energize the frets, I’ve helmed the country outfit CB Brand on its winding voyage around the Golden State for the past five years and will most likely be playing these songs in the salt and pepper years. The most profound thing I’ve gained answering this question is that all the endeavors I’m involved with, that keep me busier than an Amish hammer, have music as their foundation.
Why did you leave Philly for LA and do you miss it here?
A few factors were at play before the westward expansion. As Bill Macy said, “When a young man moves, alone, across the country in quick succession there’s usually a woman involved.” There’s some personal truth in that statement as well as the fact that I wanted to get down to business in my family’s natural home, the West coast. I took a truck, loaded it up with records and some clothes, took the Mother Road (66) where I could and let the history of those that preceded me lay waste to any incident of turning heel. When the road ended I was at the Pacific Ocean. Still there, I’ve used Los Angeles as a base camp to travel, with my wife and fellow rambler Annie, to the tropics quite a bit and often back to Philadelphia and the Eastern set. It’s a lot easier to be bi-coastal than bi-polar.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re in Philly?
See the streets where memory roams. Enjoy a beer with an old friend. Take a bike and ride from Fishtown to the Italian Market in the time it takes to get 5/10 of a mile on the Hollywood Freeway.
What’s your favorite food to eat in Philly?
I’m prone to beeline to the Sansom Street Oyster House for a stack on ice. After splitting a dozen or more with some chums, it’s onward into the night. The quality of mollusk is part and parcel above the West Coast.
You have to sell Philly to a potential convert. What do you say?
A river runs through it. So anchor down and take some shore leave.
Sounds good to us! Catch up with Chad while he’s in town and keep your eyes open for him””he’s hard to miss!