Sept. 25, 1999
Lonnie Brooks blued up.
Story and Photo by Phil BonyataLonnie Brooks coming to a small hotel in rural northern Illinois to put on a blues fest is a surprise in it's self. The fact that he culled a few hundred people from the tiny surrounding communities is even more surprising. Louisiana bred, best known as a Chicago blues man, Brooks has come a long way from his early days of playing so hard his fingers would blister with Clifton Chenier and his band. Brooks decided he had enough so he hoped in a car with his buddy Sam Cooke and headed to Chicago and it's vibrant blues scene. His records were generally met with indifference, but his live performances were greeted with great enthusiasm.The southern boy infused his blues with an edgy rock undertone that crowed his neck above the local blues scene and demanded to be noticed.
Opening with "Born With the Blues," Lonnie kicked open his greeting card for the beer guzzling, but friendly crowd here tonight. Playing with his son, Ronnie Baker, which has been his right hand man for over a decade now, father and son exchanged burning fret workings that only blood or damn good friends would ever have the special connection to achieve. Sporting his trademark cowboy hat and flannel shirt, Brooks languidly lurched into the street version of "Two Headed Man," his guitar and mouth crying each note as if blessed or cursed with a mechanical identical twin.
Bass beats pounding, Lonnie and Ronnie stepped off the stage and into the lawn in front of the most animate members of the audience and proved that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree as Ronnie actually showed up his dad. Lonnie gladly understanding the passing of the torch as a natural progression, slowly smiled and reclined into the shadows as the future lit up the night sky.
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