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Transcript: Chat with guitarist Lonnie Brooks

December 21, 2000
2 p.m. EST

CNN-Host: Welcome to CNNdotCom chat, Lonnie Brooks. We are pleased to have you with us today.

Lonnie_Brooks: Hello to Everybody!

CNN-Host: Have you found useful Blues and R&B information and sites on the 'Net, and have you used the Web to promote your own music?

Lonnie_Brooks: Yes. I do. I have a Web site. And I have pictures, records, and a lot of information on it. One day, you should take a look at it.

CNN-Host: From: [JuniorD] [JuniorD] I'd like to ask Lonnie who he listened to in his early days and who he listens to now.

Lonnie_Brooks: Well, back in the beginning, I listened to my grandfather who played banjo. Even before I could talk, my Mom would visit my grandfather, and my Mom said a lot of times I would cry, and my grandfather would play the banjo, and I would stop crying and listen to him.

CNN-Host: From: [Rory-CNN] [Rory-CNN] How long did it take you to find your style?

Lonnie_Brooks: I guess I didn't even figure--I couldn't play like anybody else. It was just me when I first started. I was really angry with myself since I couldn't play like anyone else. I used to go out with my grandfather at 8 years old. He would play these house parties. We were living on a farm in Louisiana. He had a horse, sled, and a big rocking chair on it. He would go to these parties in the wintertime when there was nothing else to do. People would play games and dance. He used to have another guy that would play with him, and his name was Blind Lodges--never knew his "right" name. He played a bottleneck slide guitar. My grandfather--you know--no money involved. They had homemade wine and stuff. They would pass the bottle and drink wine, and play for the people and dance. At the end of the time at 1:00, I was drivin back home. Most of the time I would be with him since I liked music so much. I would always see to him getting home. After that, I grew up trying to play the banjo. I didn't feel it. I had an uncle, came by with a guitar. I liked the sound, and I didn't want to let my grandfather know I liked the guitar more than I liked the banjo. And I say about 2 to 3 years later, around 10 or 11 years old, a guy would come by with an ice cream truck in the summer. He had a loudspeaker on the truck and would play Lightning Hopkins music. I used to hear that. I wanted to play like that, but could not let my grandfather know. I say I left home (Louisiana) at 17 from Texas and got a job in the oil refinery, saved money, and bought myself a guitar.

CNN-Host: Is the Internet helping older Blues artists get rediscovered?

Lonnie_Brooks: It helps a lot. Because this is one way--if you get your own Web site, people can see who you are. I think it's one of the greatest things for musicians--if you are not being helped recorded, especially. If you are not in blues magazines, too. If you get your own Web site, you can put your own music into it, and tell the world about yourself. A musician through the Internet can get known real quick this way now, and cut out the middleman. And you can let people know where you are playing. If you are playing in New York, people can pull up the Web site, and find out where I am playing, who I've got in the band, how many records I've got out, etc.

CNN-Host: From: [JuniorD] [JuniorD] Where was your home in Louisiana?

Lonnie_Brooks: Yes, I was born on a farm in LA. DUBUISSON was its name. And I think when I was a small kid, about a year old, we moved to GARLAND, and I lived there until I was about 17.

CNN-Host: From: [StNick-CNN] [StNick-CNN] Lonnie, how does the Internet help educate people about the blues? Which sites do you recommend?

Lonnie_Brooks: Well, I would say there's a delta site I looked at a couple of weeks ago, not sure of the name. It shows you where you can go, to juke joints and places like that, and tells stories about yourself, and friends. It educates you about the blues. .

CNN-Host: Why do you think jazz has been so popular around the world?

Lonnie_Brooks: Well, I think jazz is a kind of a takeoff from the blues. And it's more... I would say most of the jazz players are guys that could read music and went in another direction. When I came along in the ' '50s, I first started listening to jazz. It's the blues, more progressive. It's musicians that learned to read music and took it 10 steps forward from straight blues. You had to have an education and read music to play it. You feel it. The blues now, you don't know how to have to read it-- you feel it. It started with guys that went to school for music. Blues can play with one change or three changes. Jazz you can put as many changes as you want. You can take it where you want to go with it. And others that know how to read the music can understand it.

CNN-Host: From: [political_analysis] [political_analysis] Are blues actually from the South??

Lonnie_Brooks: As far as I know. It spread all over. I started in the South, and I'm living in Chicago now. You take it with you.

CNN-Host: From: [gruff-CNN] [gruff-CNN] If you're a "true" blues singer has your life pain inspired your music? Can somebody who hasn't suffered sing the blues?

Lonnie_Brooks: Everybody got the blues. The rich man can have it. You don't have to necessarily be blue It's what you feel and what you like. Most blues players are people who don't have anything. But the blues comes from your heart and soul. You can have 10 million dollars, and something happens to you, you got the blues. A baby with a rash on his butt, starts crying, man, he got the blues.

CNN-Host: Lonnie Brooks joins us via telephone from Chicago. CNN is providing a typist for him.

Lonnie_Brooks: I'm trying to explain this the best I can!

CNN-Host: Can you tell us about some of your current projects? Are you touring or working on any recordings?

Lonnie_Brooks: This is what I do in winter. You don't get as much work in the wintertime. So you stay home when you get snowed in and write songs, and try to have something to do, and record a record in the spring. I keep saying records, it's CDs now. I got two of my boys that play music now, Ronnie & Wayne. Ronnie just cut a record and I helped him do a couple of tunes.

CNN-Host: From: [lbfan] [lbfan] Lonnie- I saw you at the wcsx blues festival in Detroit about 8 years ago and have to say it was an outstanding performance. I think your son was playing with you then. Is he still performing with you?

Lonnie_Brooks: I got one of my sons, my baby boy, Ronnie, got his own band and own record. Even has his own recording company, he cuts for himself now. Wayne does stuff--he goes out and does stuff on his own. He's opening up with Buddy Guy on the 6th at Buddy's Legend.

CNN-Host: Do you have any final thoughts you might like to share with us today?

Lonnie_Brooks: Keep watching the Internet, and you will find out what you want to know about music. and you can find out anything you want to know about the blues.

CNN-Host: Thank you for joining us today, Lonnie Brooks!

Lonnie_Brooks: Goodbye, everybody!

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