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Lonnie Brooks

Saturday, June 21, at Wilbert's.

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Lonnie Brooks
  • Lonnie Brooks
Like most self-respecting Chicago blues artists, guitarist-vocalist Lonnie Brooks has a solid Southern connection. His lineup may be typical blues-band: guitars, keys, and rhythm, but mixed throughout Brooks's sound is a distinctively back-home R&B flavor. Alongside customary blues influences -- including B.B. King -- the Louisiana-born Brooks's brawny, raucous vocals bear strong resemblance to old-school R&B bad boys, such as Clarence Carter and Rufus Thomas. It's a posturing that extends to the sly lyrics of many of Brooks's cleverly crafted originals.

Brooks was mixing styles early on, as a member of accordionist Clifton Chenier's Red Hot Louisiana Band during the '50s. Chenier's popular formula combined R&B with traditional zydeco fare. Hitting Chicago in 1960, Brooks made a steady living while developing his blues vocabulary by performing covers of hits of the day. The experience no doubt sharpened his sense of what grabs his audience's collective ear. Recorded by several Chicago labels over the years, Brooks's blend of blues, R&B, and bayou rock blossomed on his well-received work for Alligator during the '90s.

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