Brooks family brings blues Christmas to Rockford

Brooks family brings blues Christmas to Rockford

By Lisa Palmeno

By Lisa Palmeno

Staff Writer

Lonnie Brooks and Ronnie Baker Brooks will celebrate a blues Christmas in Rockford at the 68th Birthday Bash for Lonnie and his son Ronnie’s CD Preview Party for Take Me Witcha, Friday at 8 p.m. at the Times Theater, 316 W. Jefferson St.

The “Star of Stars” showcase will feature Wayne Brooks (also Lonnie’s son), Nellie, “Tiger” Travis and gospel singer Jackie Graham (Lonnie’s daughter).

Lonnie and Ronnie are internationally-known blues recording artists and award winners, with Wayne now making his mark on the industry. Lonnie, a living blues legend, is the recipient of the Recording Academy Governor’s Chicago Music Legacy Award and an inductee to the Port Arthur, Tex. and Baton Rouge, La. Music Hall of Fame. Ronnie won “Best of the Best” in Chicago.

Famous for a unique blend of Louisiana/Chicago blues, Lonnie has more than a dozen albums to his credit, including Sweet Home Chicago, Turn on the Night, and Like Father, Like Son, which features Ronnie playing rhythm guitar.

Ronnie played his first live gig with his dad at the age of nine at Pepper’s Hideout in Chicago. Golddigger (Watchdog Label), his first solo effort released in 1999, features 12 originals. Take Me Witcha offers 15 original tracks, with three impressive rhythm sections: former New Power Generation’s Michael Bland, Sonny Thompson, and Chance Howard (currently with Morris Day & The Time); Ernest Williamson, Dave Smith, and Steve Potts (from Golddigger); and Ronnie’s current touring band: Vic Jackson, Daryl Coutts, and Jerry Porter (Buddy Guy), Lenny Kravitz’s Stephanie Bolton provides background vocals. Father and son teamed up again on “I Laugh To Keep From Crying.”

When asked about the style of blues he plays compared to Lonnie, Ronnie says, “I don’t like to put labels on it. I just play what I feel, but if you had to characterize it, it’s just a higher-energy blues, not the sad, cry in your-drink type blues. We like to have fun and make the people have fun.”

In addition to his musical father, Ronnie cites the following as influences: Albert Collins, B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Hendrix.

He adds, “I listen to everyone who picks up a guitar, really. I keep my ears open. I have a lot of favorites.”

Following in the family tradition, Wayne Brooks is in the studio working on his first solo release, due out in 2002, Chicago’s South Side native sings and plays lead guitar, combining Memphis blues and Texas rock.

Ronnie says he is really looking forward to the Rockford show. “It’s wonderful,” he says. “It’s a great feeling to be playing with my family. I’m looking forward to playing the show because it’s my Dad’s birthday and the release of my new CD, Take Me Witcha. My whole family is looking forward to it. It’s a special night, and we’re celebrating it in Rockford.”

Times Theater party attendees can expect a lot of fun and some special surprises, says Ronnie. They put the Christmas show together as an appreciation to Rockford because the people here “have shown a love of love” and “have been supporting the Brooks family for years. The blues festival here used to be named after my Dad, and then it just grew into what it is now.”

Another first for the Brooks family, Ronnie and his sister, Jackie Graham, who has recorded on some gospel CDs for her church, will appear together on stage.Ronnie says he’s excited about having his sister there and that they always talked about performing together. Now they’re actually doing it.

The Brooks family in full force to entertain, blues fans won’t want to miss this one. Advanced tickets are on sale for $16 at all Metro Centre Outlets (815) 968-5222 and at the Times Theater (815) 964-7702. Tickets are $18 at the door, For a limited time only, tickets can be purchased through Lonnie, Ronnie & Wayne’s websites:;; and

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