RONNIE BAKER BROOKS LIGHTS THE TORCH on AUGUST 22, 2006
Records is proud to announce the release of RONNIE BAKER BROOKS' THE
TORCH on AUGUST 22, 2006.
The album was
co-produced by Brooks and Minneapolis producer JELLYBEAN JOHNSON (a
veteran collaborator of Prince and Janet Jackson) and recorded at
Winterland Studios, Minneapolis, MN and Cotton Row Studio Memphis, TN.
THE TORCH includes 17 original tunes penned by Brooks and features
RONNIE BAKER BROOKS (guitars/vocals), DARYL COUTTS (Keyboards), MAURICE
'MOE' TAYLOR (drums) and CARLTON ARMSTRONG (bass). Special guests on THE
TORCH include Brooks' father, Chicago blues great LONNIE BROOKS, EDDY
'THE CHIEF' CLEARWATER, JIMMY JOHNSON and WILLIE KENT (vocals on "THE
TORCH OF THE BLUES") and AL KAPONE (rap on "If It Don't Make Dollars,
Then It Don't Make Sense").
As the son of blues legend Lonnie Brooks, RBB grew up steeped in
American music tradition. He came of age watching the fieriest guitar
players and most soulful singers of a previous era express their deepest
feelings through their music. He knows the transcendent release at the
heart of soul, blues and rock. As in the Olympic tradition, when the
torch gets passed on, the idea is to keep it burning, while at the same
time move it forward. It's a fitting image for Brooks. Not only does he
sing with soulful fire and play with a white-hot intensity; he's also
carrying the torch from the previous generation of soul and blues greats
and moving the music into the future. "I grew up among the best of the
best," Brooks says. "Every time I play, I feel like I've got to do it
with the authenticity and passion that I saw in guys like Buddy Guy,
Muddy Waters, B.B. King and my father. But I also have to put my twist
on it. None of those guys repeated what came before them."
Brooks' twist involves enlivening blues-rock with deep soul and modern
hip-hop vocals and funk rhythms. Working with Minneapolis producer
Jellybean Johnson, Brooks takes roots sounds and transforms them into
something that spans the ages. He draws on the choppy, hip-shaking
rhythms of funk, the emotional truth of soul and the forcefulness of
rock to bring a distinctive dimension to his groundbreaking sound. "I
wanted to do something that would bring young people to the blues, and
then give them the real hardcore thing at the same time," Brooks says.
"When I grew up, all my friends listened to rap and funk, and I listened
to the blues. So I heard their music and they heard mine. I think we
both saw some connection between them. I like that line in the movie
"Hustle & Flow" when they say this new rap song ain't nothing but
'Backdoor Man' written for modern streets. It's a hip-hop world right
now, but I want to bring a little blues to the party."
Indeed, Brooks' collaboration with Kapone on "If It Don't Make Dollars,
Then It Don't Make Sense" shows a streetwise philosophy that could've
fit in next to the Three Six Mafia on the "Hustle & Flow" soundtrack. On
the other hand, Brooks sings like a Memphis soul king on the
open-hearted "Be a Good Man" a pledge that he'll always try to live
honorably and treat his woman with respect.
Elsewhere, Brooks shows off his funk chops on "It's On" suggesting he's
learned a thing or two hanging out with the Prince crew in Minneapolis,
while "You Wrong For That Now" features the kind of all-out guitar
workout that draws on Texas toasters like Freddy King, Johnny Winter and
Stevie Ray Vaughan.
But for all of the varied influences on THE TORCH, the song Brooks is
most proud of is "The Torch of the Blues", the tune that gave the album
its title. The song features Brooks with his father and heroes Eddy
Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson and the late Willie Kent, who worked on the
session shortly before his death in March 2006. "Being there with my
dad, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson and Willie Kent, all of whom I
admire so much, that was a dream come true. We all played our butts off
that day and had a blast."
Brooks has earned his spot on the front lines. He spent a dozen years
backing his father, watching how the master entertainer drew
enthusiastic responses night after night. For years, the younger Brooks
put his lessons on stage every night, opening his father's show to great
response. With his father's blessing, he left the band to strike out on
his own shortly after releasing his own debut album, Golddigger in 1998.
Like his father before him, Brooks became a Chicago blues mainstay,
playing regularly in Chicago area clubs. After the release of his second
album, 2001's Take Me Witcha, he hit the road for what turned out to be
a seemingly non-stop three-year tour, picking up devoted new fans all
along the way. And while he hadn't planned to take five years between
recordings, he did want to do it right. He made up for lost time by
packing as many tunes as possible on THE TORCH.
Indeed, the album celebrates all that Ronnie Baker Brooks is -- a man
with both a history and a vision, a man uniquely suited to carry THE
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