Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ronnie Baker Brooks Announces Appearances To Support First New Album In Ten Years


Produced By Steve Jordan, Featuring Lonnie Brooks, “Big Head” Todd Mohr, Bobby “Blue” 
Bland, Steve Cropper, Angie Stone, Eddie Willis, Al Kapone, Felix Cavaliere, Lee Roy Parnell
Out On Provogue / Mascot Label Group January 20, 2017

Chicago, IL --- Ronnie Baker Brooks has announced planned initial appearances for 2017.  Following the Legendary R&B Cruise – At Sea in late-January, he will begin the run at SPACE in Evanston, IL on February 3.  Additional shows are confirmed in St. Paul, Des Moines, Milwaukee and Dubuque (detail below).  Today, the second instant gratification track has been provided to purchasers in front of the January 20th release.  

Brooks, 49, was born in Chicago, and started playing guitar around age six. At 19, he joined his father, Lonnie Brooks who by then had influenced some of the most well-known bluesman of our history: Jimmy Reed, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Winter, and Junior Wells. For 12 years, the two would tour together, putting Ronnie out front with Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Koko Taylor. 

Times Have Changed, Brooks’ first album in ten years, carries with it the weight of grown perspective and time spent perfecting old material. Brooks worked it with Steve Jordan, whose work runs from Keith Richards to Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and Eric Clapton. With that comes a lesson in rhythm and blues history. Brooks refers to the director as “a walking encyclopedia of music detail and equipment”, a professor through which Brooks could take that next developmental step. “Once we got the ball rolling, my confidence went higher and higher”, he says. “I’m a better musician for this experience.”

The experience Brooks is talking about is that which came together over the course of a few weeks at Royal Studios in Memphis, the home of Al Green, Syl Johnson and Bobby “Blue” Bland. Jordan and Brooks brought in a mint press of Memphis music royalty: Stax Records staple Steve Cropper (Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave), Archie Turner (Al Green, Syl Johnson, O.V. Wright), jazz saxophonist Lannie McMillan, and R&B icon Angie Stone. For several tracks, Brooks also enlisted brothers Teenie (guitar), Charles (organ) and Leroy Hodges (bass) of the legendary Hi Rhythm Section, which served as the house band for hit soul albums by artists like Al Green and Ann Peebles. “We used the same mics that Al Green used on his record”, says Brooks. “Matter of fact, we were using much of the same band! It kind of took that vibe.” The first track recorded was a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly hit Give Me Your Love. The second, Twine Time, the instrumental jam from Alvin Cash. 

Several tracks on Times Have Changed were recorded at the legendary Blackbird Studio in Nashville. “It had great hospitality, a great vibe, great tone, great equipment,” Brooks said. “And of course I got to get closer to some of the musicians who live there, Felix Cavaliere, Steve Cropper - they all live there, and it just created a great atmosphere. One of the key things for me was that we got Todd Mohr there, and he was willing to play rhythm guitar along with Lee Roy Parnell, so we got a nice little chemistry going with the three guitar parts together.”

‘Times’ also comes laden with original hits. Five of the eleven tracks were penned by Brooks. Raised on others’ music, he’s always considered the songwriting process to be as sacred. “It’s like having a baby”, he says. “You see it come to life. Once you play it live, it grows even more. That was the most fun part of it, for me: the creative side. Coming up with a song people can relate to, and you relate to, it just snowballs. It’s almost like therapy for me. Like the song Times Have Changed: I wrote that song years ago. I sent Steve my songs and he picked that one. It’s kind of timeless. Every day something’s changing. Now, when I play it live, you can see the effect of it. Initially, it was just an idea: just a riff. Now, this song has influence on people. We were just in Europe this year, after the bombing in Brussels. And we’re playing Brussels. I played that song; people were in tears. It helped them heal.”

The complete track listing features: “Show Me” (feat. Steve Cropper), “Doing Too Much” (feat. “Big Head” Todd Mohr, “Twine Time” (feat. Lonnie Brooks), “Times Have Changed” (feat. Al Kapone), “Long Story Short,” “Give Me Your Love (Love Song) (feat. Angie Stone), “Give The Baby Anything The Baby Wants” (feat. “Big Head” Todd Mohr & Eddie Willis), “Old Love” (feat. Bobby “Blue” Bland), “Come On Up” (feat. Felix Cavaliere & Lee Roy Parnell), “Wham Bam Thank You Sam,” “When I Was We.”

Brooks will stage the following appearances.  Additonal dates will be announced as they are confirmed:
1/21                                                                             Legenday R&B Cruise – At Sea
2.03     Evanston, IL                                                   SPACE
2/10     St. Paul, MN                                                   MN Music Cafe
2/11     Des Moines, IA                                               Blues Fest
2/24     Milwaukee, WI                                               Shank Hall

2/25     Dubuque, IA                                                   Mystique Casino

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