Lonnie Brooks
@ The Cabooze, December 27, 1996


Lonnie Brooks
The Cabooze, 12/27/96
Photo © Tom Asp 1996
All Rights Reserved.
In the early 50's Lonnie Brooks played with the King of Zydeco Cifton Chenier. He had several regional hits in Texas under the name of Guitar Junior. When he moved to Chicago in 1958 Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson was already there, and having two "Guitar Juniors" playing in the same town at the same time created some confusion for the fans. So Lonnie just changed his name...no problem...even though he had some well-known recordings under his other name. That's the kind of guy Lonnie is...easy going, friendly, confident and one fine musician. Alligator's Living Chicago Blues series (Vol. 2) in 1978 helped to reacquaint audiences with his playing. Since then he has had a string of Alligator releases that have brought him world wide acclaim.

He opened for Koko Taylor recently at the Cabooze and his set lit a fire under the sold out crowd. Lonnie's band opened the night featuring son's Ronnie Baker Brooks and Wayne Baker Brooks alternating on lead guitar. Local musician Dave "Biscuit" Miller was on bass (see Twin Cities Blues News interview in the December 1996 issue), Pat Doody on drums and long time band member Tom Giblin was on keyboards. They are one good blues band. Both Ronnie and Wayne Brooks are superb guitar players and are carrying on the fine tradition of their father.

After a few rousing songs Lonnie strolled on stage, taking Wayne's place on guitar. He was dressed mostly in black with a cowboy hat and a colorful shirt. His wide guitar strap featured large white music notes and his face was just beaming -- he said "anytime I wake up I call it morning." This was 9:45 at night! You could tell he was in a good mood and ready for a fun time!

Lonnie played many of the songs from his new, and excellent I might add, 1996 Alligator album Roadhouse Rules. The song Hoodoo She Do featured son Ronnie's writing skills and some scorching guitar. I didn't realize until after the show that Ronnie was playing with a broken wrist. Based on his fine guitar playing I would never have known he was wearing a cast. I Need A Friend, another cut off the new CD, was written for Johnny Winter. Lonnie said "he never came back to get it so I recorded it." This song along with Backbone Man and Before You Go are his favorites from the new release. Before You Go is a great change of pace rhythm and blues song that is also my favorite from the CD.

One great highlight of the show was Lonnie's extended "walk-about" the audience. It finally took him to the center bar section where he walked inside with the bar tenders and played his guitar behind his head to the screaming delight of the audience. The audience was packed shoulder to shoulder so it took him some time to find his way back to the stage.

At one point in the show with Lonnie in a playful mood he said "how many of you guys want a wife for tonight? Hold on I'll help you get one". He then had some fun with the song Wife for Tonight. At another point, as he picked up a bottle of water, he continued playing his guitar with just his left hand and unscrewed and drank from the bottled water with his right hand...now how did he do that?

Lonnie says that there are three things he prides himself in and consistently works at improving on -- playing well, singing well and writing well. He knows that if he takes care of these areas his career will take care of itself. I might add that his shows are another important part of his success -- they are high-energy fun!
Keep The Blues Alive!

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at: mnblues@aol.com

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Copyright © 1997 by Ray M. Stiles
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