Chicago bluesman Ronnie Baker Brooks, 49, likes to treat every album he makes as a platform for growth, like his blues career, which has been on an unstoppable upward trajectory. He started playing guitar at the age of six. At 19, he joined his father, Texas and Chicago blues legend Lonnie “Guitar Jr. Brooks” who by then had influenced some of the genre’s best-known artists in history: Jimmy Reed, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Winter and Junior Wells. For 12 years the two toured together, placing Ronnie alongside such greats as Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor. In 1998, when he was 32, his father encouraged him to go solo.
By then, Baker already had a band, with which he had been touring since 1992, and a few years later he set up his own record label. In 1998 he recorded his first album, “Golddigger”, 16 songs that were released in two weeks. “My dad always said to keep writing even if you don’t think the song sounds good or you can’t finish it,” , Baker says. “Just write. Keep writing. The more and more you write, the better you get.” “Take Me Witcha” came three years later; her second album on Watchdog Records. Brooks broke out as a big star on 2006’s “The Torch”. The Boston Herald called it “fierce and relentless… the best blues album of the year”.
In the ten years since “The Torch”, Brooks has raised a family, toured North America and Europe and played on other bluesmen’s albums.
On the first day of recording his latest release, “Times Have Changed”, a powerful eleven-track album, Brooks was told by industry respected album producer and drummer Steve Jordan to put his pedalboard back in the van. For the first time in his professional life, Brooks plugged a Gibson into the TKTK amp and cranked it straight from there. “Back to basics. Pedals get in the way of your tone, your natural tone. All the distortion I had was coming straight out of the amp,” Brooks recalls. “It was almost like going to college, or graduate school. It was definitely an education”.