Saanich’s Jesse Thomas Brown has matured a little since his days as a Friday night piano man at the 17 Mile Pub, but he’s still a rock and roller.
It’s just that there’s something about music’s 1960s Brill Building scene, ballads and all, that have caught the interest of Brown and his deep, crooning voice.
Brown recently completed his fourth album, We Were Only Kids, and is holding his first concert in three years at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s David Foster Foundation Theatre on April 13.
The Brill Building songwriting scene was an incubator for award-winning artists who wrote hits as often for other musicians as they did for themselves, such as Neil Diamond, Carole King and Connie Francis.
“The reason I connect with it is because it was so well honed and exciting, I think rock and roll translates to every era,” Brown said. “It’s the kind of music that shuts out everything else in the world and puts your own reality into perspective.”
It hasn’t slowed the piano songwriter who was once known in Victoria circles as “Jerry Lee” for his wild flair (and hair) that mimicked Jerry Lee Lewis’ brash style, including standing over the keyboards. But he has definitely taken on the style.
As a songwriter, his shift towards the Brill Building songwriting teams of the 1960s is reflected in We Were Only Kids. “That’s where my heart is right now,” Brown said. “That music is nostalgic for me, for whatever reason the first 10 years of rock and roll are really exciting me.”
The 37-year-old has been up and down in the local scene and has lived in Saanich since he arrived here as a young adult “army brat” with his parents 16 years ago. He lives in Broadmead, where he records at home.
“I still play gigs around town but they’re mostly private,” Brown says. “And I’ll still be playing covers, with about seven or eight songs from the new album.”
Covers from his April 13 setlist include Chuck Berry, The Righteous Brothers, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, Gary U.S. Bonds, The Crystals and Elvis Presley.
It’s not lost on him that the music he plays is from an older generation, but he also believes the younger generations (born since the 1970s) can relate to it.
“As far as the music itself goes I don’t know if younger generation can connect with it, but a there’s a topical element to a lot of my songs, political slant, social criticism,” Brown said.
Local drummer Lucas Johnson plays on We Were Only Kids, which was mixed and mastered by Myke Hall.
Brown’s music is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
The April 13 show starts at 7:30 p.m. at the David Foster Foundation Theatre, Oak Bay Beach Hotel, 1775 Beach Dr. Tickets are $20 ahead or at the door, with open seating. Underground parking is free with the ticket.
Visit jessethomasbrown.com for more information.