4 out of 5 stars
By the time Wayne Baker Brooks released his debut album, he had played the blues in Lonnie Brooks' band for almost 15 years, served as a roadie for two years before that, and led his own band for seven years (in addition to still playing with his dad). Clearly, he did not rush into a recording career. Instead, he paid his dues and took the time to find his own voice: a course a less savvy bluesman might not have made, especially considering Brooks' family legacy. It was a wise decision, because Mystery is not just a strong debut, it's a fully formed new vision that updates the sound of the blues without falling into the same tired blues-rock clichÃ©s. Instead, Brooks adds some soul, funk, and even a little hip-hop to his solid blues foundation and comes up with a great set of all-original tunes.
Right from the opening title cut, you know this isn't your standard blues album. It opens with a tremoloed Fender Rhodes vamp with an acoustic rhythm guitar doing one thing in one ear and an electric doing something else in the other. And, are those turntables in the mix?! Yep, but it's a subtle touch like so many others throughout the album (and they're judiciously used on just two cuts). Brooks is a strong, soulful singer; he's got a big, meaty Gibson tone; and his solos often don't go where you're expecting them to. The production is crisp without being slick, and it's got a nice open mix. Brooks knew what he wanted from the tunes, and his arrangements are impressive. Hammond here, Clavinet there, horns on a couple tracks, some tasty slide, and well-done backing vocals all add variety, but Brooks' singing and guitar playing are always the focus. He's equally at home on uptempo numbers ("Sooner or Later," "It Don't Work Like That") as he is on the slower numbers like the soulful "Exiled." He brings a bit of the funk to "Baby Stop," and "Nu Kinda Blues" is just what it says with its pumping bass, scratching, and killer harmonica playing over a ZZ Top-style groove. But despite these additional influences, Brooks is a bluesman to the core, albeit a very modern one, and that becomes clear every time he starts playing his guitar (and check out the exchanges with Lonnie on "It Don't Work Like That"). Mystery is not just a great album; it marks Wayne Baker Brooks as someone to keep an eye on as the blues enter the 21st century. As Wayne himself said, "Blues purists might not get my music but blues has to breathe fresh air sometimes." Amen to that.
BLUES REVUE - Review "Mystery
"Wayne Baker Brooks and his brother, Ronnie, picked up the family trade playing alongside their father, Lonnie Brooks. Wayne has earned stripes both in his father's band and on his own, and his debut album has been a long time coming, but it's well worth the wait: The guitarist and singer arrives a fully developed talent and a maverick whose distinct brand of blues incorporates elements of rock, R&B, funk, and even a trace of hip-hop.
Mystery delivers mainstream appeal without betraying the family legacy. The midtempo title track establishes Brooks as someone not content to repeat the same old thing, and though purists might mistake the slick prodcution as an attempt at being radio-friendly, what they'd be missing is a song with a memorable hook and a great, drama-building midsection. Brooks proves nearly as good a singer as he is a guitar player, full of grit and soul.
It's hard to imagine rock fans not appreciating the ballad 'Exciled' or the techno-boogie of 'Nu Kinda Blues'. The latter track, fueled by guest harmonica player Ben Ruth, features a guitar riff that recalls ZZ Top's MTV years. ('Do the Muddy Waters and dance! Brooks commands.) In case anyone doubts Brooks' commitment to his roots, he follows with the more traditional 'It Don't Work Like That', a tongue-in-cheek song about the school of hard knocks that features old-school solos from his father, Ronnie, who contributes rhythm guitar through most of the disc, joins the vocal chorus.
The elder Brooks seems to have taught his sons not just how to play, sing and lead bands, but how to blaze their own trails. Listen to this Mystery unfold and reveal its secrets."
"He's got the talent, the energy and everything else to make it click"
--Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor
"The future of blues is good hands & i'll tell you why with 3 words,
Wayne Baker Brooks"
--Tom Marker WXRT
"it is heart warming to see Wayne perform knowing the blues tradition is in good hands with the next generation"
--Barry Dolins, Director, Chicago Blues Fest for 21 years
"his show was well done and full of excellent music and guitar from a man who learned his craft well"
-- Dave Piltz
"Wayne has developed an impressive guitar style that incorporates the best of traditional and modern day Chicago blues"
"Don't be surprised if Wayne gains greater exposure for the blues and gathers a better marketplace for it"
--Tim Holek, Blues Critic
Wayne Baker Brooks set at The Pocono Blues Festival was electrifying....His set jumpstarted the 1st day of this 3 day National Blues Festival and set the tone for the weekend....Wayne is a must for all venues large & small and for any talent buyer that takes their music seriously.
--Michael Cloeren, Founder & Producer Pocono Blues
"Wayne Baker Brooks takes what Chris Thomas King and Chuck D. started to a higher ground"
--Tim Holek, Blues Critic
"Down and Dirty, from the-gut-blues" --Chicago Tribune
"A Must See" --Chicago Suntimes
It is indeed a Mystery when that rare artist appears who magically takes a classic genre, like the blues, and presents it in a dazzling new light. Singer, guitarist, songwriter Wayne Baker Brooks is such an artist - as revealed on this incredible debut CD release.
Mystery clearly illustrates Brooks uncanny grasp of what is essential in not only blues, but great music overall. This project offers 13 untouchable songs such as Root of my soul, Mystery, Baby, Stop, and Exiled - each performed with a truth that can only be expressed through deep talent.
Naturally, it doesn't hurt that musical genius is part of Wayne Baker Brooks lineage, as his father, Lonnie Brooks, is a blues hero of world-wide acclaim or that Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Luther Allison and B.B. King, to name but a few, are considered friends whom Wayne would tour and regularly jam with.
But what is most important is that Wayne Baker Brooks has taken this incredible heritage to heart, made it his own and, with the help of an elite group of musicians, poured it into an astounding debut CD - Mystery.
Wayne Baker Brooks (Brooks Clan): lead/rhytym guitar, lead vocals
Ronnie Baker Brooks: (Brooks Clan) rhythm guitar
Schuyler Deale: (Michael Bolton, Billy Joel, Foreigner) bass
Jeff Jacobs: (Foreigner, Billy Joel) keyboards
Matt Walker: (Smashing Pumpkins, Filter) drums
Featuring: Lonnie Brooks Courtesy of Alligator Records
Ronnie Baker Brooks appears courtesy of Watchdog
Produced by Jeff Jacobs/Big Dog Bites
Executive Producer - Devon Devick
Wayne Baker Brooks - BIO
With his debut release Mystery, Wayne Baker Brooks serves notice of a new, powerful force at play in the music world. Combining outstanding song craft, passionate vocals and a liquid fire guitar style, this talented artist manages to honor his rich blues heritage while effortlessly expanding the boundaries of the genre. Mystery is an intense sonic mixture comprised of a wide range of elements including the blasting heat of Texas, the joyous abandon of Chicago's wild Southside and the inspired devotion of Led Zeppelin at their blues-worshiping best. Mystery also features Wayne's father Blues Master Lonnie Brooks Courtesy of Alligator Records.
This should come as no surprise. Wayne Baker Brooks is known for bringing the house down. Whether performing with his own WBB Band or hosting white-knuckle jams with blues legends like Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, John Mayall, and Otis Rush, or famous rockers like Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, George Thorogood and Slash of Guns N Roses, to name but a few, top critics of all media agree Brooks is an exciting artist not to be missed.
"He's got the talent, the energy and everything else to make it click, declares the Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor, I'll bet my money that he'll succeed and that's something I don't do is gamble.
As the son of blues superstar, Lonnie Brooks, Wayne was raised in an extraordinarily gifted and hard working household. He began his career polishing musical skills during the course of a staggering 150+ performances, year in and year out, with his father's band. It was a schooling like no other and Wayne's dazzling talent and stage presence quickly placed him dead center in the spotlight.
This charismatic musician has been featured on nationwide television news programs, such as CNN Showbiz, as well as radio programs reaching approximately 15 million listeners in one days work, including The Mancow's Morning Madhouse Show, The Jonathan Brandmeier Show and House of Blues Radio Hour.
In addition, his reputation has even reached the White House. On October 27th, 1999, the Wayne Baker Brooks Band performed for the First Lady of the United States, Hilary Rodham Clinton at Chess Records in Chicago. As the conclusion of the band's explosive set, Hilary pronounced, "My husband is going to be so jealous he missed this!"
Apart from playing and recording, Mr. Brooks enjoyed a cameo appearance in the Blues Brothers 2000, Barbershop I & Barbershop II movies and co-authored the book "Blues For Dummies" for the famous educational series. To date, this edition has been translated into 8 other languages, with 30 more to go altogether.
More recent stuff:
2005 - Induction into The History Makers: Music Maker Success
2005 - Poconos Blues Festival Lifetime Achievement Award presented to "The Brooks Family"
2004 - Headlined The 2004 Chicago Blues Festival - Brooks Family
2004 - National Release of debut album "Mystery"
2004 - Appeared in Barbershop2
2004 - Featured twice on the House Of Blues Radio Hour w/ Elwood Blues
2004 - Real Blues Magazine Award - "Carry The Torch Award"
2004 - Real Blues Magazine Award - "Top Blues Stars of the Future"
2004 - Real Blues Magazine Award - "Best Chicago Blues Guitar CD/Modern - Mystery"
2004 - Real Blues Magazine Award - "Best New Chicago Blues Talent/Male"
2004 - Real Blues Magazine Award - "Best Chicago Blues Tune/Modern - Nu Kinda Blues"
2004 - Headlined The Chicago Blues Festival
2004 - Featured On the House Of Blues Radio Hour w/ Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) 180 markets
2003 - Performed at The 2003 Major League Baseball All Star Game
Check out the artist's website:
2. Baby stop
4. Ain't That Lovin' You
5. She's Dangerous
6. Nu Kinda Blues
7. It Don't work Like That
8. Your Turn (To Talk To The Blues)
9. Sooner Or Later
10. Tell Me
11. You Make It Easy, Baby
12. Just Lika Butterfly
13. Root Of My Soul