Dan Aykroyd: Chicago's Lonnie Brooks 'a Beloved Figure in American Blues'

By DNAinfo Staff on December 20, 2013 9:50am | Updated on December 21, 2013 3:41pm

 Entertainer Dan Aykroyd, right, is hosting a celebration for Chicago bluesman Lonnie Brooks' 80th birthday Saturday.
Entertainer Dan Aykroyd, right, is hosting a celebration for Chicago bluesman Lonnie Brooks' 80th birthday Saturday.
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Scott Olson, Maree Williams/Getty Images

DOWNTOWN — From Dan Aykroyd to Big Head Todd, a host of celebrities, musicians and blues greats will help celebrate legendary guitarist Lonnie Brooks' 80th birthday Saturday. 

Actor, comedian and musician Aykroyd, one of the founders of the House of Blues, will be master of ceremonies for the party and concert at the club by Marina Towers.

"He is extremely worthy of a tribute like this and everybody is coming out because they love him," Aykroyd said Saturday in an interview with DNAinfo Chicago. "He is a beloved figure in American blues."

Aykroyd remembers seeing Brooks play way back when he was filming "The Blues Brothers" in Chicago in the late 1970s and afterwards whenever he was back in the city.

"I used to see him on BLUES on Halsted, Kingston Mines,'' he said. "He’s consistently a great entertainer, full of everything you want in a great blues show. Great technical ability, and charisma and just all of that. He’s got it all."

Jimmy Vivino, the leader of Conan O'Brien's band, will play at Saturday night's tribute as well as Big Head Todd, Sugar Blue, Otis Clay, Billy Branch, Lil Ed and Eddy Clearwater.

Lonnie Brooks' sons, Wayne and Ronnie Baker Brooks — will also perform,  showing off the skills they learned while touring with their father.

"It's going to be a great night of music," Aykroyd said. "I don't thnk you are going to see something like this in Chicago in a long time."

The plan is to have the artists cover some of Lonnie Brooks' best-known songs, organizers said.

"This will be the party of the year ... and deservedly so!" said Michelle Boone, Commissioner of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, in a statement on the event's Facebook page.

But there will be a somber note during the concert, as Aykroyd also said they will likely honor Eric "Guitar" Davis, the son of Bobby "Top Hat" Davis, a drummer who played with Muddy Waters. Eric Davis was killed Thursday in a shooting in South Shore.

 Lonnie Brooks' 80th birthday bash is Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 at the House of Blues. His sons, Ronnie (l.) and Wayne Baker Brooks (r.), will perform at the concert, along with master of ceremonies Dan Aykroyd and other blues greats.
Lonnie Brooks' 80th birthday bash is Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 at the House of Blues. His sons, Ronnie (l.) and Wayne Baker Brooks (r.), will perform at the concert, along with master of ceremonies Dan Aykroyd and other blues greats.
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Brooks family

"It's just terrible," Aykroyd said. " ... We'll be sure to remember him tonight, call out his name."

 

Brooks, who grew up in Louisiana as Lee Baker, is well-known for a "voodoo blues" style and first performed as Guitar Junior. He recorded such songs as "Family Rules" and "The Crawl."

He moved to Chicago more than a half-century ago and later recorded the grammy-nominated "Bayou Lightning Strikes: Live from Chicago." He's toured the world and played at the biggest music fests. In 2011, after again headlining Blues Fest, he was given a proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel declaring June 12  "Lonnie Brooks Day."

He's lived all over the city, including Bronzeville, Englewood and Morgan Park, where he lived with his family for more than 25 years. He recently moved to south suburban Dolton.

Aykroyd has been one of blues music's biggest promoters.

"The Blues Brothers" brought the spotlight back on the genre in 1980 and highlighted some of the greatest blues musicians at the time, like John Lee Hooker. Brooks appeared in "Blues Brothers 2000" with Aykroyd and a host of other blues musicians.

"He was great," Aykroyd said.

In addition to the 13-venue House of Blues, which he is now a consultant for after Live Nation bought it in 2006, Aykroyd hosts "The Blues Mobile with Elwood Blues," a weekly syndicated radio show.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show at House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn Saturday. Tickets are $27.50 in advance and $30 at the door.

 

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