Southern rock band
Jule Brown is the "nom de rock" of Mark Holland, who, with Marvin Levi and Anthony Lener, formed the band by that same name. On their Myspace page, they say their music is influenced by "Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Dylan, Woodgy Guthrie, Neil Young, Howlin' Wolf, Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Hank Williams, The Who, Sister Soul, Pink Floyd, Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, and Buddy Holly," among many others.
Holland was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. His first public performances came at age ten, when he sang backing vocals and played drums for a local gospel group, the Singing Disciples, in the small North Carolina town of Monroe. Through high school and college, he played with a variety of local bands, including Elephant Sun, Dionysus in Doubt, and Soul Box. Holland studied political science and history in college, and was an army infantry officer in the early 1990s. In the mid-1990s he and his twin brother, Michael, formed a roots-rock band called Jennyanykind. That band played what Steve Klinge, writing in Harp, described as "low-key, rough-and-tumble country-blues swagger." That band's best known record was Revelator (1996) on the Elektra label.
Holland, who took the pseudonym Jule Brown, also released two records under that name while he was playing for Jennyanykind. The Magic of Jule Brown (1995) was a solo album which featured Holland playing, singing, and producing; it featured Holland's interpretations of old-school country songs. Occurrence at Jule Brown Bridge, released in 1997, was electric folk and country rock.
Holland continued to play as a solo artist, calling himself Jule Brown, but eventually added two other musicians to the band: Marvin Levi on drums and Anthony Lener on bass. Holland sang, played guitar and harmonica, and provided some percussion. In a review on Indie-Music.com his musical style was described as "‘in-the-rack’ harmonica virtuosity [with] a driving claw hammer guitar style based on Delta blues master Charley Patton."
In 2001 the band recorded an album called The Towns, the Clowns, and the Sound of Jule Brown, but could not find any label willing to release it. According to Indie-Music.com, Holland had decided, "Well, those are the breaks! At least I've got Jennyanykind to fall back on!" Shortly after that, however, Jennyanykind broke up, which was a difficult time for Holland, "especially splitting with your brother who also happens to be your twin! But we're mates now that we're not playing together." Many of the tracks from The Towns, the Clowns, and the Sound of Jule Brown appeared on Jennyanykind's last album, Peas and Collards, which was released in November of 2003.
In 2006 the lost songs from The Towns, the Clowns, and the Sound of Jule Brown were released, along with five new songs, on the album Smoke and Mirrors. These ten original songs, and one cover of roots music, all featured introspective lyrics. Klinge commented that Holland's voice was just right for the songs on the album, which "reflect the past but never mimic it." One song on the album, "Can't Get It Right," won second place in the Billboard World Song Contest in 2005. The band toured in support of the album in the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007. The band began finding favor with a wider audience in 2007; they had more gigs, larger audiences, and began opening for larger acts, such as Robert Randolph and the Family Band at a show in Durham, North Carolina.
Soldier in the 9th was released in 2007. On this album, the band added keyboards to their sound, also widening their appeal. According to the Enabler Records Web site, Soldier in the 9th takes the band's sound "to a deeper level that conjures up images of reggae greats," as well as 1960s acts like Procul Harum and Bob Dylan, and has continued the band's "wry commentary of life in America."
Smoke and Mirrors, Enabler, 2006.
Soldier in the 9th, Enabler, 2007.
For the Record …
Members include: Mark Holland , vocals, guitar, harmonica, keys, percussion; Anthony Lener , bass; Marvin Levi , drums.
Formed in 2000; released Smoke and Mirrors, 2006; released Soldier in the 9th, 2007.
Awards: Second place, Billboard World Song Contest, 2005.
Addresses: Record company—Enabler Records, 300 Elizabeth St., New York, NY 10012.
"Biography," Indie-Music.com,http://www.indie-music.com/bands/bands/1541/ (February 17, 2008).
Enabler Records Web site, http://www.enablerrecords.com/ (February 17, 2008).
"Jule Brown: Smoke and Mirrors," Harp,http://www.harpmagazine.com/reviews/cd_reviews/detail.cfm?article_id=4986 (February 17, 2008).
Jule Brown's Myspace Page, http://www.myspace.com/julebrown (February 17, 2008).
Land Shark Promotions Web site, http://www.landsharkpromotions.com/jule-brown.html (February 17, 2008).
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