Guitarist Lonnie Brooks’s Louisiana roots are usually more hinted at than proclaimed these days–a droning harmony, deceptively propulsive slow shuffle, or a long shimmering phrase reminiscent of Guitar Slim. Mostly, he’s a hard-driving contemporary bluesman, with a distinctive, high-pitched voice and a penchant for meticulous arrangements and well-crafted lyrics. Brooks used to play country music, and an element of country’s romantic longing remains in his style: even when he’s rocking the house down there’s a starkness to his sound, and on slower numbers his voice can modulate from loving to desolate. A lot of us wish he’d curb his slick perfectionism and leave more space for the emotion that churns beneath the surface; nonetheless, he’s one of the relatively few blues artists who can be depended on to put forth all he’s got in live performance, and I’ve never come away from one of his shows disappointed. Tonight and Saturday, B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera, 1124 W. Belmont; 525-8989.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Fraher.