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People of NKY: From Rock ‘n Roller to roofer, David Rhodes Brown at 70 brings back Warsaw Falcons

By Ginger Dawson
NKyTribune reporter

Katie bar the door!  David Rhodes Brown is about to turn 70 years old.

Now, while this may not sound like such an amazing thing to some of you (too close to that number yourself?), in the world of Rock and Roll, this is an event to witness.

On March 7th, at the resurrected home of the Wiedemann Brewing Company at 4811 Vine St. in St. Bernard, the resurrected Warsaw Falcons are going to tear the roof off of the place.

The Warsaw Falcons 2020: John Schmidt, David Rhodes Brown and Doug Waggoner  (Photo by Lisa Duesing)

David’s homeboy band, the Warsaw Falcons, sprung on to the Cincinnati scene in 1982 and ruled the roost in clubs on both sides of the river back then.  With their blend of Rock and Roll, Rockabilly and root country twang, they were old school hot and way ahead of their time.

David was all-in, ambitious and wanted to move up the music ladder. After being at the top of the heap in Cincinnati, the next logical step was Nashville. He had the looks, the charisma and presence (he’s 6 foot five and one half) and the chops to do it.

So, in 1990, he migrated south to conquer Music City.

The Warsaw Falcons had settled into a trio with John Schmidt and Doug Waggoner by 1985, and unlike David, they couldn’t just pick up and move to Nashville. So he did the next best thing — he hi-jacked Lonnie Mack’s rhythm section. Lonnie Mack (July 18, 1941- Apr. 21, 2016) was a tristate guitar hero with a long-standing, solid national reputation. Born in Indiana, he had originated a blistering blues guitar style accompanied by searing blue-eyed soul vocals. This connection in Nashville couldn’t hurt.

After about five years in Nashville, the trip ended with a call to family duty. He was needed at home. His sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (which had been in remission for five years) and really needed help, not just for herself, but also to help take care of their mother. After visiting her weekly for a year, his sister lost her battle with cancer and David moved back home. His mother needed him.

The Warsaw Falcons in the 1980’s. John Schmidt, Doug Waggoner and David Rhodes Brown. (Photo provided)

And, amazingly, at that point, he had decided that rock and roll was a young man’s game. He was 45, then. It is hard to fathom what fueled this thought. Every stage of life has its trials and its own lessons to teach, it seems.

Back in Cincinnati, and deciding he should stop this Rock and Roll business, people would have none of it. Club and bar owners, friends and other musicians wouldn’t let him quit, and opportunity just kept knocking.

To paraphrase an old Rock and Roll chestnut: “Fifty thousand David Rhodes Brown fans can’t be wrong!”

David was into music early. His family gave him an early influence and he started out singing in sock hop bands in his mid-teens. During a stint in the Navy, he taught himself to play guitar and song-writing followed closely.

Over the years, he has written hundreds of songs and played even more gigs.  He continued to evolve and innovate into different genres of music and performance.

Soul Pocket, a dance band featuring girl singers and Big Bill Pickle and the Legendary Jerkin’ Gherkins (love that name), a swing/rockabilly band are a couple of these projects. And, of course, the Warsaw Falcons book-end this legacy.

In fact, by David’s account, the Warsaw Falcons had to take a 28-year hiatus in order for their drummer, Doug Waggoner, to settle down.

David Rhodes Brown and Bobbi Layne Kayser with Diamond Boy and Annabelle. Another Rabbit Hash mayoral candidate here? (Photo provided)

Alongside his current place as frontman for the Falcons, he also gigs with 500 Miles to Memphis, a Punk Rock Americana band and the Tammy WhyNots, an old school three-chord country band. This man is constantly playing and there is no way that this is a complete account of all of his work.

Now, I suppose you’re wondering what makes David Rhodes Brown a topic for People of NKY.

Rabbit Hash. That self-proclaimed center of the universe and the spiritual heart and soul of Northern Kentucky lured him there through love. He met Bobbi Layne Kayser in 2002, introduced by a mutual friend. Bobbi had recently bought five acres right outside of Rabbit Hash. They have been there together since around 2004. 

Rabbit Hash is an extremely unique, tiny little place right smack on the Ohio River in Boone County. Its center is its general store, which through the love and dedication of its residents was brought back to life after a devastating fire. Many of you may remember this.

Sometimes I think there is an intelligence in the ether of some places that casts a spell and purposely draws its people to it. Like many of the denizens of Rabbit Hash, David Rhodes Brown had been marked. Rabbit Hash worked its magic through Bobbi. These two are like peas and carrots. Rabbit Hash got its man. And, even better, David got his girl.

One particular honor that David and Bobbi experienced together was being the campaign managers, and ultimately advisory committee, to the popularly elected Lucy Lou, canine mayor of Rabbit Hash. This was in 2008.

David Rhodes Brown (Photo by Lisa Duesing)

David has, for so many years, been so completely identified by his music career, that it may surprise some to know that he runs a very successful business. Rabbit Hash Roofing LLC, which he runs from a rustic old barn (no running water or heat) within slipping distance of the Ohio River bank has been successful since 2002.

David is the salesman for his crack crew of roofers, an extended family of hard-working immigrants from El Salvador. 
By standing behind his word and through his expertise at handling jobs and delivering the goods, he built a strong reputation for his crew. His reputation was, and still is, so good that he was able to keep the business going through the 2008 recession. Many contractors went under during that time. Some of the biggest home builders in the Tristate area tipped business his direction so that they could keep one of their best, most dependable roofing contractors in business. 

With all of his music projects and roofing business it takes a lot of energy to keep the David Rhodes Brown show on the road.

The fledgling Rock Star (Photo provided)

Awhile back, in April 2018, he was in a single-car accident. He rolled his SUV and it was not good. Six broken ribs and a clavicle shattered into three pieces knocked the stuffing out of him. His high level of energy took on the job of helping him heal, but it borrowed from everything else he needed it for.

This went on long enough. He was tired of being tired, so recently, here on the eve of his 70th birthday, David made a decision to clean up his act.

He quit drinking and smoking. After a good recent medical checkup, his doctor stated he would probably make it to 100.

I don’t know about all of you, but I think we all had better start thinking about what kind of a world we are going to be leaving to David Rhodes Brown!

Make sure you get to the Wiedemann Brewing Company, 4811 Vine St. in St. Bernard on March 7th to celebrate the beginning of David’s next 30 years!

David Rhodes Brown in Rabbit Hash. Would you buy a roof from this man? (Photo provided)

Or, would you buy a roof from THIS man. (Photo provided)

Ginger Dawson writes about people — the neighbors you need to know and people you need to meet and understand. If you have ideas for subjects please share them with Ginger at ginger@fuse.net.

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One Comment

  1. Steve Ryan says:

    The Cosmic Slob, Gold Circle sign maestro, rules! Love ya, David, Steve and Terri!
    Send regards to A Nonny Mouse!

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