How does one describe a life changing experience? I never understood why I was in this town of Fort Bragg, California. I just came here on a whim. Then suddenly, on October 27, 2001, everything became clear in an instant. I came here to meet him and become a songwriter. My newest, closest friend stepped out of his body that day. It seems he felt little pain, he just...had to go. Gene Brown's physical heart may have given out that day but his real heart beats on in the music. Gene Brown and I had a strange connection. We met over the cook's line at the Mac Callum House where he was sous chef and I was a bartender. He saw one of my shows and knew he wanted to play music with me. He told me he was a songwriter, that he had a 'suitcase' full of music. One day in December of 2000, I invited him to my home to see if we could get something going. I approached it in my usual way. I had a gig coming up the next month, so I invited him to participate. After an exchange of formalities Gene settled down, cross legged on the floor...he seemed terrified, he was shaking. I played one of my original tunes for him. He showed an appreciation. I offered my excuses then asked him to play something. He said he didn't have anything, not even a cover tune. He said, 'I just play,' and asked me to play another so he could play along - I asked, 'Where's your suitcase?' He said, 'What suitcase?' I reminded him of the suitcase full of music he had mentioned. He said he didn't recall saying that. Well, most of our conversations over the next year went something like that. Funny thing was, we didn't communicate with common words. We were communicating on a much higher level and began to understand each other very well. I basically dogged Gene to play something for me that day, anything. He said, 'Well, I have this,' and began to play a beautiful picking style with a simple sweet chord progression, he sang along quietly while his hands trembled. There were no lyrics just a melodic 'do-do-do' that culminated with the words, 'Guess I was wrong again.' It was stunning...he sort of trailed off at the end and said, 'Well, that's all I have for now.' It wasn't finished. I asked him to play it again as I turned on my tape recorder. After that Gene placed his acoustic Fender, Josie, back in her case and went home. I listened to that tape again and again over the next few hours and jotted down some lyrics, which I thought would complement the music. I thought it was utter crap and way too simple, but I resolved to share it with him the next day. I asked him to play and I sang the song for him. When it was over there was a moment of silence, then Gene said, 'How, did you know how I felt?' That was the beginning of the magic. We would finish each other's songs and soon would be writing on our own. We patted each other on the back after we exchanged apologies for our presentations. I would always share my part with Gene and say, 'Maybe we should rewrite this later.' He would always say, 'No, the way it comes out the first time is usually the best.' I've held to that philosophy. Oh, by the way, I found out later that the 'suit case' did exist. He never let me hear any of it...we would only move forward. As soon as our first song was born I was hungry for material. I thought we could rewrite some of those old songs, but Gene wouldn't hear of it. We began to meet one night a week and share our new material. We rehearsed very little by my standards. Gene and I flew by the seats of our pants. We always thought we would get around to more rehearsal time but we were working at our day jobs and constantly coming up with new material. In eight months we wrote 35 songs. Some of those never made it to performance. One week we finished 7 of those in anticipation of our first live radio interview with Airika on KZYX & Z's 'NITELITE' out of Philo, California. It seems as though Gene and I never had a chance to get to know one another and yet we knew everything that mattered. I trusted him with my soul. We were very clear about our music. Gene never shared anything with the public that wasn't ready. I saw Gene change over the year that I knew him. Gene was amazing. I admired his quiet nature so much. I longed to be able to think before I speak! Gene had this way of quietly observing. He would always leave a space in a conversation just big enough to make you feel like you had to fill it. Gene was...dramatic pause - Before every gig Gene would suddenly gasp and I would say 'What?' thinking we had left the gig bag at home or something was wrong and he would reply, 'I just remembered, I don't want to do this!' I don't know how he did it but he managed to surprise me every single time. Uncanny - I would always laugh and reply, 'You know you love this,' and he did. He would light up when he sang and played. He gained more confidence every day... But he remained his own biggest critic. Gene was a true gift in my life. Together we became...songwriters. How does one describe a life changing experience? Buy the CD and you will know. ~Julie Engfer Gene Brown was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1959. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and Virginia. Gene started playing guitar when he was about 3 years old. It is told that he sat down and pulled the huge guitar up across his tiny lap. He sang an entire song while strumming the instrument with complete confidence even though he didn't know how to play it. He never stopped strumming. When Gene was about 7 years old he made his first record. It had several songs on it including two that he wrote himself. He was a natural. As a young adult Gene played in the Bay Area with his sister and many different friends. One of the longest running incarnations was 'The Calling' in late 1984-1986 in which he and other band members wrote the musical riffs for his sister's lyrics. They played all original rock music. He later played with 'Flying Color.' Gene moved to the Mendocino coast in the late 80's with his wife to raise their family. He worked very hard holding down several jobs as a chef to make ends meet. Even when he was tired he played guitar every chance he had. Gene started getting into acoustic and folk music and began to discover roots in himself that he didn't know existed. On May 18th 2001, Gene started a calendar count down on the 'specials' board at work to let his fellow workers know that he had only 556 days until he became a rock star. If he forgot to change the number one of the staff would do it for him. Gene was not only a self taught musician of guitar, bass and piano but was an amazing artist as well. Gene often would make a verbal list of the most important things in his life...'my daughters and my music.' Julie Engfer was born in Upland, California. When she was eleven years old her family moved to Alaska where she spent her formative years. Julie has had a passion for music her entire life. She got her first real gig in her late teens singing in a small café in Brazil, where she was a foreign exchange student. When Julie was 21 she bought her first guitar and taught herself how to play. Within a few months she auditioned for 'The Palace Theatre and Saloon,' a musical theater company in Fairbanks, Alaska. For ten years she honed her skills as a theatrical singer and actress at 'The Palace' and 'The Malemute Saloon.' During that time Julie worked with the show's composer/pianist, and began performing as a cabaret singer. In her late twenties she started singing with an acoustic rock band called 'Yukon Ryder' and expanded her experience as a singer and percussionist. Gaining more ability as a guitar player, she put together her own acoustic duo with a friend, called 'Two Reds are Better Than One.' Julie then moved on to a traveling show for the Holland America Cruise Lines. Julie moved back to California in 1999 where she began to do a solo acoustic act at local coffeehouses. She had been performing cover tunes and a few of her own songs but need more confidence as a songwriter. Gene Brown was an amazing guitar player, and Julie convinced him to perform at some of her gigs. It was a magical experience, and they instantly began to write songs together as the acoustic duo, 'Engfer Brown.'