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Lonnie Brooks: “You’re Usin’ Me”

Lonnie Brooks’ history is full of fun names and references. He was born, for instance, in the town of Dubuisson, Louisiana and played with the great zydeco performer Clifton Chenier. Brooks twice had the great nickname “Guitar Junior” and played on Jimmy Reed’s version of the classic Big Boss Man (I’m not certain this is the version with Brooks.)Here is the beginning of the AllMusic bio:

Having forged a unique Louisiana/Chicago blues synthesis unlike anyone else’s on the competitive Windy City scene, charismatic guitarist Lonnie Brooks has long reigned as one of the town’s top bluesmen. A masterful showman, the good-natured Brooks puts on a show equal to his recordings (and that’s saying a lot, considering there are four decades of wax to choose from).

Alligator Records, with whom Brooks has a long association, also has an affectionate bio. The sense in both is that Brooks is a very likable guy. The clip above is from the Woodlands Blues Festival in Houston in 1993. Two Headed Man and Sweet Home Chicago are from blues cruises in 2008 and 2011, respectivelyHis son, Ronnie, is in all three clips. Here is the elder Brooks’ site.

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Reading Music

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Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.