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One Step Forward…
In 1969, Toni Brown was introduced to the Grateful Dead, her first live concert experience. It was like coming home, and she took every opportunity to enjoy the music, becoming part of the subsequent Deadhead sub-culture that evolved around it.
By 1980, destiny kicked in and Toni became owner, publisher and editor of Relix magazine, an eclectic music and lifestyle publication focused on the Deadhead Community and “intelligent music alternatives.” She spent the ensuing twenty-plus years seeking out and recognizing new talent amongst a multitude of emerging rock bands.
With strong roots in improvisational, exploratory music a la the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, etc., Toni recognized a new music emerging in the mid-‘80s, and she enthusiastically encouraged it. The “Jamband” scene was born. Phish, Blues Traveler, moe., Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews, Spin Doctors, String Cheese Incident, ekoostik hookah,Leftover Salmon and dozens of other succesful artists, got their first media attention through Toni’s efforts. When the legendary Wetlands Preserve came into existence, it was Toni who urged owner Larry Bloch to include live music in his concept for the environmentally-based club that went on to give many artists a New York platform in which to perform.
Having been immersed in music for so many years, it was inevitable that Brown would find her way to the live performance arena. Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter, gave Toni a guitar he’d gotten from Jerry Garcia, and told her to learn how to play it. Hunter encouraged her to put music to a collection of roughly hewn songs she’d written over the years. Toni followed her muse. She began by performing with a number of well-known musical friends (New Riders of the Purple Sage, Merl Saunders, Zen Tricksters, Tom Constanten, David Nelson Band, Hot Tuna, Vince Welnick, Vassar Clements, JGB and many others).
In 1995, Toni recorded her first CD, produced by Hot Tuna’s Michael Falzarano, with the backing assistance of the David Nelson Band and Jorma Kaukonen. When she toured in suppport of that first release, Blue Morning, she found herself surrounded by a strong ensemble of players. Garcia died that same year, and performing helped fill the gap left by that loss.
The Toni Brown Band went on to record a second release, Dare To Dream. This time, Brown enlisted good friend Vassar Clements on fiddle and Flying Burrito Brother John Beland to co-produce the project and add his musicianship to her band’s already incendiary mix.
The Toni Brown Band toured the festival circuit for a decade while Toni continued to run Relix. Being on the road, she had the opportunity to meet scores of musicians she had supported through the pages of the magazine, and many long-time readers turned out to see her perform. This public forum further helped to define her musical direction.
Toni sold the magazine in 2000, but it didn’t take long for her to realize that she still held a respectable place in the music scene. Shuttling back and forth between Orlando, Florida and New Hope, Pennsylvania, Brown tapped into the best musical choices from both areas. She fell into the Orlando jamband scene and became an active participant, being named one of "Orlando's Coolest People" in 2005 by Connections magazine. Toni played Orlando's Hard Rock Live over a dozen times, and has performed at many of Florida's premier clubs and festivals.
Brown continues to develop a following, weaving lyrical tapestries and musical landscapes with the same sincerity that she instilled into her 20 years as the chronicler of the Deadhead and jamband scenes.
Having recorded her last project, Rabbit Hole Soul, in Orlando, Toni found a distinct appreciation of her songwriting abilities with the title song. Tying Alice In Wonderland references to her happiness at finding life beyond publishing, life is exactly what Toni is celebrating. Handling publicity for a number of artists and events, writing songs for a new release, lecturing on the music industry, working with a diverse roster of talented musicians in her extensive travels and maintaining a jam-packed performance schedule, Brown continues to be a significant part of the thriving scene she helped create.
In April 2009, Toni completed RELIX, The Book: The Grateful Dead Experience, a collection of the first 30 years of Relix magazine, a timeline of the Dead and Deadheads. This magnificent full color book will be released in October, 2009. She will be touring with in support of the book and a new CD with Ed Munson .
Standing along the railroad tracks, Ed spent much of his time playing guitar over the rhythm of the trains that passed by his house in Frankfort, Kentucky. His determination as an acoustic guitarist kept the magic evolving in his head over years of musical innevitablity. His first public appearances were alongside Toni, and the pair made beautiful music together. They're now inseperable, playing regularly and recording. Ed's musical muse extends to writing, and he has penned many of wonderful tunes that will be featured on the new CD.
Ed also provided the exquisite
layout & design for RELIX: The Book.
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