Maxine Brown

The pioneering Country Music star with "The Browns" – Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie

Chet Atkins – The Country Gentleman, and Your Five Star Dessert Recipes

Announcement: Maxine Brown is a 2012 Ella Dickey Literacy Award Honoree, for her book Looking Back to See. She plans on traveling to Missouri in April, with her daughter Alicia, to receive her award in person. Also, Looking Back to See is now available as a beautiful and highly professional iPad book, available through Apple’s iBooks app. Just search “Maxine Brown.”


Chet Atkins – The Country Gentleman
by Maxine Brown

It’s hard for me to write about someone I’ve admired and respected as much as I do Chet Atkins. Since he was a part of “the best years of my life’, I wanted to write a few words about the man who changed the lives of The Browns forever.

Chet was always there for me. He showed interest in all three of my children and even though he was not Catholic, he always said he wanted to be their “God Father”. He was always ready to lend a shoulder during the painful years of my divorce. Many times he and his wife Leona, would have the three of us out to their home in Bellmead for a home cooked meal. It didn’t matter if we were in town for a recording session, or the Grand Ole Opry, he always took us to dinner. Our favorite hangout was Irelands. He booked all the musicians for our sessions and they all knew that when the Browns were recording, they would eat well. Chet would order Steak and Biscuits by the sack fulls from Irelands. If we ran out, he would order more to be delivered.

Steve Sholes, who was in charge of the New York RCA Victor division hired Chet as his assistant producer in 1956, to produce country music records in Nashville. At that time they were recorded at the Methodist Radio, Television and Film commission building on McGavock Street. It was only a two track studio. Eventually, Chet convinced Sholes and RCA that they needed a studio built specifically for the purpose of recording. The new studio was the first on what is now known as Music Row. It was completed in 1958. So many record labels and artist were using this new studio, they couldn’t accommodate everyone so they built a newer and bigger studio next door. This was known as Studio A, and the first studio became known as Studio B.

During our reign with RCA, The Browns recorded 264 songs in both studio A and Studio B under the direction of Chet Atkins. “The Three Bells”, “Scarlet Ribbons” and “The Old Lamplighter” were all million selling records and all were recorded in studio B. Chet has always said that “The Three Bells” was the biggest record he ever produced in studio B. This was released on July 3rd, 1959 and to this day it is still selling and paying a lot of my bills.

Chet Atkins made stars out of a lot of un-knowns. He produced so many number one hits and never given the credit he deserved. We would often ask if RCA had given him a raise, his answer was “No, they give you titles instead of money”. When Sholes died in 1968, Chet was made vice president of the Nashville office. He did a radio interview with DJ, Eddie Stubbs of WSM, whereas, Eddie asked “which artist do you enjoy recording the most”, his answer was “Jim Reeves and The Browns”. Jim Reeves with his smooth velvet voice, and The Browns because of their tempered harmony which was not a true blend and it mystified him, it could not be matched with other instruments and the way Bonnie and I would bend our notes constituted the Brown sound, he often said. It was never intentional, only natural, and never duplicated.

As Rock and Roll began to get more popular and with country music sales declining, Chet started eliminating the fiddles and steel guitars as a means of making country records appeal more to the pop fans. This became known as The Nashville Sound.

Chet wanted to be known as “Mister Guitar”. His genres were classical, country, folk and jazz. Jazz had always been a strong love of his and often in his career he was criticized by his “pure county” musicians for his Jazz influences. When RCA refused to let him expand and record a Jazz LP, he left and signed a contract with Columbia Records. He produced his first LP for Columbia in 1983.

The Browns have a total of 69 awards and achievements but none of these would have been possible without the guidance and A&R of the genius, Chet Atkins. Chet left us with this legacy: “YEARS FROM NOW AFTER I’M GONE, SOMEONE WILL LISTEN TO WHAT I’VE DONE AND KNOW I WAS HERE. THEY MAY NOT KNOW OR CARE WHO I WAS BUT THEY WILL HEAR MY GUITARS SPEAKING FOR ME”.

No one could ever say it better, whether it was The Country Gentleman, or Mister Guitar. He was the best guitar picker the world has ever known or will know. The world lost a friend on June 30th, 2001, at the age of 77. I am thankful to have known Chet Atkins, the man!!

Maxine Brown
(Feel free to circulate and republish this article about Chet, with a link to my website included: http://www.themaxinebrown.com)


Enjoy an online video of a recent tribute to the great Chet Atkins. Click Here.


Your Five Star Dessert Recipes, from Mama Brown’s Cookbook

BANANA CAKE/with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 Cups Ripe Banana’s, mashed
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
3 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoons Salt
3/4 Cup softened Butter
2 1/4 Cups Sugar
3 Large Eggs
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan. In a small bowl, mix mashed bananas with the lemon juice, set aside. In a medium size bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt, set aside. In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in the flour alternately with buttermilk. Stir in the banana mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting. Or, you may place in the freezer for 45 minutes prior to frosting, this will make the cake very moist.


CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

1/2 Cup butter, softened
1 8 oz. package Cream Cheese, softened
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

Cream butter and cheese until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all combined, then beat on high speed until frosting is smooth. Spread on cooled cake. Sprinkle chopped walnuts or pecans over top of frosting, if desired. (This is one of the best cakes I have ever tasted. It is a must for all family get togethers).


POUND CAKE (Mama Brown’s own creation)

1 Lb. Butter (or Margarine) softened
3 Cups Sugar, granulated
3/4 Cups Sweet Milk
6 Eggs
4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1 Tablespoon Orange Extract
2 Tablespoons Cream De-Cocoa

Cream butter and sugar together. Add flavorings, then eggs. Mix well. Sift flour 3 times, alternate with milk, add to mixture. Bake one hour and forty minutes in a greased and floured Loaf Pan, or use an extra large ring mold. Note: You may or may not use Cream De-Cocoa, but it will help keep the cake moist. This is a very large cake and keeps well, should there be any left over to keep!! (your oven temperature varies, but I bake this at about 350 degrees).


HAWAIIAN CREAM CAKE

1 Stick Butter, or Margarine, softened
1/2 Cup Shortening
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
2 Cups all-purpose Flour
5 Eggs, separated
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 Small container Coconut or about one cup
1 Cup Chopped Pecans

Cream Butter, shortening and sugar together. Add 5 egg yokes. Beat well. Add flour and soda, alternating with buttermilk. Stir in vanilla coconut and nuts. Fold in the 5 well beaten egg white whites. Bake in 3 layers for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Ice with CREAM CHEESE FROSTING.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
Mix one, 8 oz. package Cream Cheese with one stick softened butter, one box powdered sugar and one teaspoon vanilla. Spread between layers and on top of cake. Top with chopped Pecans.


BLUEBERRY (De-light-full) Cake

1 Box White Cake Mix
Cook according to box directions. Cool completely. Split into 4 layers. (It is always easier to split layers if you will place in freezer for a few minutes)

1 Can Blueberry Pie Filling
1 8 oz. package Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 Cup granulated Sugar
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Large container Cool Whip
Cream together granulated sugar and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and cool whip, mix until smooth and creamy. Spread over layers. Then top with some of the Pie Filling. Repeat with all 4 layers. On top layer, build up edges with cream cheese mixture, then add remaining filling in center. Note: Any kind of Pie Filling is good, such as Cherry, Peach, Fruit, Apple. I like to use PLUM Pie filling if I can find it, and call this cake PLUM DE-LIGHT-FULL.

PEA PICKING CAKE

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
4 Eggs, beaten
3/4 Cup Oil
1/2 Cup Water
1 Large Can Mandarin Orange Slices, drained
1 Small package Instant Lemon Pudding Mix
1 Large Can Crushed Pineapple, drained
1 Large Cool Whip

Mix cake mix, eggs, oil, water and orange slices together. Bake in two cake pans which have been lightly greased and dusted with flour. Cool. Mix drained Pineapple with Pudding Mix then add Cool Whip. Stir, don’t beat. Put between layers, sides and on top. Keep in refrigerator.


A pleasure being with you today. If you’re new to this newsletter, and my website, be sure to enjoy The Browns Music at my Online Store. Please forward this newsletter to friends.

Maxine



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Comments

3 Responses to “Chet Atkins – The Country Gentleman, and Your Five Star Dessert Recipes”
  1. Randy Francis says:

    Maxine,

    I just read your article in tribute to Chet Atkins and what an enjoyable read…as are all your writings! I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not know about Chet Atkins and have a sense of his greatness and importance! I began picking up a little guitar at about age 11 and one of the first masterworks I tried to duplicate was Chet’s recording of “Country Gentleman”. Even as a kid I was aware that he was closely associated with my heros Jim Reeves and the Browns and others. I recall watching a great TV tribute to Chet that appeared on TNN a few years ago called “Chet Atkins–A Life in Music”. In it he relates his experiences with a lot of people and the first two he mentioned were The Browns and Jim Reeves! Later another special appeared in which he performed a medley in tribute to a short list of his favorites among the many artists he was producer and A&R man to. The second and third songs in the medley were “The Three Bells” and “Welcome to My World”! He told Ralph Emery that the biggest selling and most important single he every produced was “The Three Bells”! Having already known all of this it was great that your article gave us–admirers of yours and his–a window into your personal relationship with him as a friend! We now have a better understanding of the human being behind the genius and I don’t think there is a person alive today who is more qualified to speak to the kind of man he was than you, Maxine! I give your latest article TWO THUMBS UP! I enjoyed it very much!!

    Your friend,

    Randy Francis

  2. Randy Francis says:

    To my friend Maxine;

    I enjoyed very much reading your personal tribute to the great Chet Atkins! He was “Mr. Guitar” and father of the Nashville Sound and his life’s work is preserved for generations still unborn to admire! I have admired him for my entire life…can’t remember a time in my earliest childhood memories when I wasn’t well aware of him, his genius and tremendous importance to Country and popular music! I can remember as a boy of 11 and having just learned some guitar. I remember trying (in vain) to duplicate his masterwork recording “Country Gentleman”! He has been among my musical heroes to this day…that is a list that would put The Browns on top and would include Jim Reeves , Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton and many others! Over the years I learned that most of my favorites had close ties to one another and that is, to me, so cool! I’m glad that you wrote this tribute and gave us a window into Chet Atkins the human being…since his professional brilliance is well documented and common knowledge! He was closely associated with many, many greats in the business, but it is obvious that he personally loved and admired The Browns a great deal…so I can’t think of a professional associate and friend who would be more qualified and appropriate to speak of his greatness as a friend than you, Maxine! I am personally grateful of the fact that Chet Atkins intervened and prevented a premature retirement for the Browns because I can’t imagine a world without your full body of work to enjoy !

    I give your latest writing in tribute to Mr. Atkins TWO THUMBS UP!!! Enjoyed it very, very much!

    Randy Francis

  3. Brian Lane says:

    Well written.. Great recipe’s..

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