Meet the Band: Alan Brooks (vocals, guitar)
A Native Son: Born in Cleveland, Brooks started writing songs when he was still in high school and cut his musical teeth at open mic nights hosted by local folkie Charlie Mosbrook. Then, when he was in college in Chicago, he started playing at local coffeehouses and wine bars. "Chicago is cool," he says. "I love Chicago because it's like a bigger version of Cleveland, though it might have more small listening rooms for people who play solo."
All That Jazz: Though he's a singer-songwriter, Brooks takes his inspiration from jazz. "I love jazz," he says. "I grew up on Motown and the Temptations and all that. I love the way jazz gives you the room to improvise." He cites pianist Thelonious Monk as one of his favorites. "I like him because he has a distinctive style and would play things that were choppy. That's why I like him because he was so unique. For me, that set me down the path of not wanting to imitate other people's styles and find my unique voice."
Why You Should Hear Him: Engineered by Jake Fader (Mifune, Kokolo), his new album Alibi features low-key songs that show off his soulful voice and nimble-fingered guitar work. Songs such as "Silver Lining" and "Taxi Cab" were recorded in one take and have a real immediacy to them as a result. "Compared to the last thing I did which was with a full band, this was much different," he says of Alibi. "Having my voice up front gave me a good opportunity to be vulnerable. I love the idea that it was just one take and whatever will be will be. Whatever comes out in your voice or playing is what comes out. The record is just that; it's a record of a moment in time."
Where You Can Hear Him: alanbrooksmusic.com
Where You Can See Him: Alan Brooks performs with Dave Hammer and Morgan Mecaskey at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 19 at Uncorked in Akron. — Jeff Niesel