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Ronnie Baker Brooks
Blues Royalty: The Next Generation
By Karen Brault
Guitarist and singer/songwriter Ronnie Baker Brooks is the son of legendary bluesman Lonnie Brooks, and is living proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. After establishing his reputation as a bluesman in Louisiana in the ‘50s, his father Lonnie embraced the sounds of rock ’n’ roll and can rightly be considered one of the first blues-rockers; Ronnie was absorbing this new hybrid literally from the cradle, and joined his dad’s touring and recording bands while still in his teens. Ronnie has gone on to establish himself as one of the most exciting and forward-thinking bluesmen of the current generation, pleasing purists with his blues roots while bringing in younger listeners with his blistering guitar work and dynamic stage presence. He has four self-produced CDs on his own label, Watchdog Records.
In 2008, Ronnie Baker Brooks enjoyed an incredible year. Last summer he was featured on three releases that all hit the Blues Top 10 on the Billboard and RMR charts. They are: Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater’s West Side Strut on Alligator Records; Command Performance by The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue on Delta Groove Records; and Elvin Bishop’s Grammy-nominated Delta Groove CD, The Blues Rolls On.
CBG correspondent Karen Brault had a brief chat with Ronnie before his
Thanksgiving weekend show
(November 29th) at Buddy Guy’s Legend’s club in Chicago.
(To see a review of that show, click
(To see a review of that show, click here.)
Karen Brault for CBG: Ronnie, how are you? It’s nice to have you back.
Ronnie: Well, I’m glad to be back home, first of all. I’ve been out (on the road) and haven’t played Chicago in a long time. I want to say probably in August, so it’s great to come back home. We’ve been to the East Coast, to the West Coast, down to Mexico, Canada…so, glad to be home, especially during the holidays…getting out, spending time with your family.
CBG: And how is your family?
Ronnie: Dad is doing good…doing great. Wayne is in Nashville now recording songs for his new CD and my dad’s suppose to come down tonight. Everybody’s doing good.
CBG: Do you plan to do any projects with your dad?
Ronnie: (laughing) That’s the million dollar question! I’ve been wanting to. We have a ton of songs we wrote together, but dad is at his own pace now, taking his time, doing what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. I just told him today: ‘Whenever you’re ready, I’m here!’
CBG: What material will you be playing tonight in your show?
Ronnie: Songs from my latest solo CD The Torch. Then I got a CD I did in collaboration with Tommy Castro, Deanna Bogart and Magic Dick from the J. Geils band.
CBG: Would that CD be Command Performance?
Ronnie: Yeah, Command Performance by the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue. We’ll be doing some tracks from that, and just doing what I normally do. Most of my stuff is original.
CBG: I understand you have a show with the Legendary R&B Revue on March 28 in Schaumburg?
Ronnie: Yeah, yeah…I’m coming back in March for the Revue. All of us are getting together for the show. Played here once with the Revue at Fitzgerald’s and this time we’re going to do the gig out there in Schaumburg.
CBG: Any plans to play the Chicago Blues Fest again?
Ronnie: I haven’t heard anything. I played it this year (2008) with Eddy Clearwater. I produced Eddy’s latest CD and they allowed us to bring all the people on the CD on stage for the Blues Fest. Great time; one of the highlights of the year!
CBG: Unfortunately, I’ve heard they’re cutting back on the Blues Fest in 2009.
Ronnie: Yeah, that’s a shame.
CBG: I was surprised about that because I thought the Chicago Blues Fest generated a lot of money for the city.
Ronnie: Yeah, you would think, but I don’t know what’s going on. I let the politicians handle that! (laughing) I just hope they don’t get rid of it completely. That’s what I’m afraid of. I remember that happened before and they brought it back.
CBG: Any final thoughts before you go onstage?
Ronnie: If you like what I’m doing and you’re interested just go to: www.RonnieBakerBrooks.com . I’ve got merchandise you guys can pick up, information and all that stuff. Just keep the Blues alive in Chicago!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the interview with Ronnie Baker Brooks, in which CBG's Linda Cain caught up with him for his Valentine's Day show.