Bluesy wailer Brenda Patterson originally hailed from Arkansas and became a mainstay of the 1970's Memphis music scene... She recorded with several bands, including the rock group Redbone and the country/boogie band led by Coon Elder, and continued to perform regionally after her recording career ended. Here's a quick look at her work...




Discography - Albums

Brenda Patterson "Keep On Keepin' On" (Epic, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Cohn)

This album doesn't really have much of a "country" feel, but merits mention here because of Patterson's later work with the Coon Elder Band (below). In case you were wondering, this record doesn't sound much like that one -- Patterson seems to have been aiming for the same audience as Janis Joplin and/or Tracy Nelson, and drew heavily on her self-described "Holy Roller" white gospel roots. She's backed by the thumpy West Coast hard-rock/psychedelic boogie band, Redbone, playing in vaguely the same SF style as Joplin's old band, Big Brother & The Holding Company. To be honest, I found this disc a bit torturous, particularly her vocals, although the band does get in some funky riffs. Not my cup of tea, though.


Brenda Patterson "Brenda Patterson" (Playboy, 1973)
(Produced by Jim Dickinson & Brenda Patterson)

A rock-roots crossover set, with soul-tinged vocals and a bunch of hard-rocking cover tunes. Ry Cooder, Chris Ethridge and Rusty Young represent the more country side of the studio crew, though this is more of a "rock" record, it certainly deserves mention here.


Brenda Patterson "Like Good Wine" (Discreet Record, 1974) (LP)


Brenda Patterson & The Coon Elder Band "...Featuring Brenda Patterson" (Mercury, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Ed Norman)

Bandleader Coon Elder was a regionally popular figure in from Memphis, mixing swampy white soul with country twang and chunkier Southern rock... This was his only album, and was also a showcase for singer Brenda Patterson, who had previously recorded three albums as a solo artist -- her throaty, bluesy style draws this album into Tracy Nelson/Maria Muldaur territory, while Elder's roadhouse rock'n'soul has a slight Delbert McClinton-esque feel to it, a Southern bar-band, but with some Muscle Shoals soul coming out in the horn section... I suspects that working with an old-time mainstream Nashville producer like Jim Ed Norman is partly what gives this album its mellow feel, though there are still some gritty lyrics and a distinctly rootsy undercurrent. For country fans, highlights include "Send Him Home To Mama," the bluesy "Grinnin' My Blues Away," and their version of "I Ain't A Cowboy (I Just Found The Hat),"one of the great satires of the '70s urban cowboy scene. An eclectic album, and a nice picture of the shifting boundaries where longhair country met Southern rock. Although Elder never made another album, he kept playing locally around Memphis, sadly dying in a 2011 traffic accident.




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