Sixty sec­onds with...

A minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great gui­tarist tick. Be­fore he jumped into his limo for the air­port we grabbed a quick chat with Chicago blues­man ex­traor­di­naire, Ron­nie Baker Brooks.

Guitar Techniques - - INTRO -

GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live with­out?

RBB: I use a cus­tom heavy shell cel­lu­loid pick. I like heavy picks be­cause I play hard some­times and I like the feel of the re­sis­tance.

GT: You have to give up all your ped­als but three. Which ones stay?

RBB: My pro­ducer Steve Jor­dan wouldn’t al­low me to use any ped­als on my new record! But for my live shows I would keep my Full­tone Deja Vibe, my Vox wah and my Full­tone Fat Boost.

GT: Do you play an­other in­stru­ment well enough to be in a band?

RBB: I’ve done shows on bass when I was in my Dad’s (Lon­nie Brooks) band. I’ve even jammed with Ste­vie Ray Vaughan on bass gui­tar at a club called The Grand Em­po­rium in Kansas City, back in 1988!

GT: Do gui­tar ca­bles re­ally make a dif­fer­ence? What make are yours?

RBB: My friend Eric John­son said they do! I use Mogami ca­bles.

GT: Your stu­dio is burn­ing down: which gui­tar do you sal­vage?

RBB: My ’67 Gib­son SG. It’s my first gui­tar that my Dad bought me. We used it on many record­ings. I got that gui­tar when I was 7 years old!

GT: Who was your first in­flu­ence to play the gui­tar?

RBB: My fa­ther, Lon­nie Brooks. I saw my Dad per­form at the Chicago Fest in front of thou­sands. I be­came in­tim­i­dated and thought I could never play like that, but my Dad would al­ways say, “You can do it and do it bet­ter”! Then I met Al­bert Collins! Al­bert saw me play­ing with my fa­ther, then pulled me to the side to say, “You will never be your Dad or me, but take what you can from who­ever you like and make it you.” That boosted my con­fi­dence be­cause it came from some­one else I’ve ad­mired other than my Dad Al­bert Collins the ‘Mas­ter Of The Tele­caster! My Dad started the fire and Al­bert Collins poured gas on it! I’ve looked up to my Dad and Al­bert like some peo­ple look up Elvis or the Bea­tles. Lon­nie Brooks is my best friend, men­tor, in­spi­ra­tion, and a tal­ented, won­der­ful fa­ther!

GT: What was the first gui­tar you re­ally lusted af­ter?

LBB: My 1988 Strat Plus. When I be­came my Dad’s rhythm gui­tarist I was able to buy that gui­tar my­self. I walked into Gui­tar Cen­ter in Chicago, and that gui­tar started talk­ing to me. I then picked it up and fell in love. I bought it off the wall with no set-ups or ad­just­ments.

GT: Sin­gle best gig you ever did…

RBB: I al­ways give it all I got at ev­ery gig, but I had a gig ear­lier this year at the Ba­nana Peel in Bel­gium, six days af­ter the bomb­ing in Brus­sels. I never felt that ap­pre­ci­ated by an au­di­ence be­fore. The crowd was very glad we didn’t can­cel the show! It was very emo­tional and heal­ing for all of us!

GT: …and worst play­ing night­mare?

RBB: While play­ing with my Dad, we got booed off the stage open­ing for Ge­orge Thoro­good!

GT: What’s the most im­por­tant mu­si­cal les­son you ever learnt?

RBB: First, mu­sic is very pow­er­ful. Sec­ond, stay re­spect­ful and hum­ble to it. Third, parts are parts when play­ing in a band, so know your role within it. I learned that the hard way from play­ing with my Dad, KoKo Tay­lor and Jr. Wells!

GT: If you could put to­gether a fan­tasy band with you in it, who would the other play­ers be?

RBB: On my new record, Times Have Changed. I’ve got to play with Steve Jor­dan on drums, Wil­lie Weeks and Leroy Hodges on bass, Charles Hodges and Jonathan Rich­mond on keys, Tee­nie Hodges and Michael Toles on rhythm gui­tar, Ed­die Wil­lis of the Mo­town Funk Brothers, Steve Crop­per, ‘Big Head’ Todd Mohr, Lee Roy Par­nell and my Dad Lon­nie Brooks on lead gui­tars, Bobby Blue Bland, Angie Stone and Felix Cava­liere on vo­cals with the Mem­phis horns, a back­ground vo­cal group and String sec­tion! That’s a fan­tasy come true!

GT: Is there a solo by some­one else that you re­ally wish you had played?

RBB: Al­bert Collins’ Lis­ten Here, Live In Ja­pan, BB King’s Sweet Six­teen live in Africa, Hubert Sum­lin’s on Louise with Howlin’ Wolf, Lon­nie Brooks’ Cold Lonely Nights on Bayou Light­ing Strikes live in Chicago, Al­bert King’s on Blues Power live, Fred­die King on The Stum­ble, Buddy Guy’s on Yon­der’s Wall live at An­tone’s, Car­los San­tana’s on The Healer with John Lee Hooker, Ernie Is­ley’s on The Is­ley Brothers’ Voy­age To At­lantis, and Jimi Hen­drix on The Band Of Gyp­sies’ Ma­chine Gun to name a few! LOL.

GT: What’s the solo/song of your own of which you’re most proud?

RBB: I’m proud of the songs and so­los on Times Have Changed and Old Love from my new CD. She’s A Gold­dig­ger from my first solo CD Gold­dig­ger is one I like also. My big brother and the pro­ducer of that CD, Jelly­bean John­son, gave it to Prince; I’m told he said, “Hey Bean, your boy is bad”!

GT: What are cur­rently you up to?

RBB: I just fin­ished the three­month Big Head Blues Club tour with Big Head Todd & The Mon­sters, Mud Mor­gan­field (Muddy Wa­ters’ son), Billy Branch and Erica Brown in sup­port of the Wil­lie Dixon Trib­ute record, Way Down In­side - all Wil­lie’s songs. I’m home for the hol­i­days then get ready to sup­port my new record, Times Have Changed, next year!

al­bert collins said, “you’ll never be your dad or me, but take what you can and make it you”

Ron­nie Baker Brooks: starstud­ded ca­reer

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