Blues Guitar Great, Ray Brooks, Continues his legendary dynasty in music in Monthly Residency at Seven Grand Club in Vibrant Downtown Los Angeles Entertainment District.
Blues guitar great and former Grammy nominee Ray Brooks, along with his band Ray Brooks & The Bluzmasters, continue their monthly residency in Downtown L.A. at the Seven Grand Club, show times are 10:00 pm to 1:00am with No cover.
The Seven Grand Club is located at 515 W. 7th St., Los Angeles. Info: (213) 614-0736 or http://sevengrandbars.com/seven-grand-downtown-la a scheduled performance is planned for Wednesday, March 23 of 2016.
Brooks – recently interviewed by venerable Living Blues magazine for their article on “Legendary Bluesman of Los Angeles” – first began playing professionally back in 1958, at the Cloud 9 Club in Corpus Christi, Texas. He worked throughout South Texas, backing artists as Floyd Dixon and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. In 1961 Brooks moved to Dallas, Texas, where he worked with Freddie King and the great Buster Smith. Brooks arrived in Los Angeles, California in June of 1963, and started to appear in all of the popular L.A. clubs of the time. In 1968, he co-wrote “Burbank Brown”, a song that was featured in the hit movie, “Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice”. Ray was nominated for a Blues Grammy in 1979 for his recording of “Walk Out Like A Lady”, taken from his album, “Let’s Try Love”.
Ray subsequently toured with the Job Corp. around the country, and shortly thereafter played a lengthy residency at Harrah’s Club Lake Tahoe. In 1980 Ray toured South Africa three months with Cashears as the opening act for Tina Turner, and after that, with late keyboard great, Billy Preston. In 2007, Brooks performed the music in a commercial for French sunglasses company, Optic 2000. Most recently, Ray relocated to the Southern California High Desert city of Victorville. He was a headline performer at the 2014 High Desert Music Festival, and continues to perform throughout Southern California.
In addition to playing and recording, Brooks currently teaches music at the Excelsior Charter School system in Victorville. In his busy schedule we were able to get a short but informative interview with this musical master on his life in music, his opinions on music today, and what lay ahead.
IPM: When did you start playing and who were your inspirations?
Ray: I started working the summer of 1958. Bowleg Sam, Gatemouth Brown, and BB King were my main influences when I started out.
IPM: What was your first performance?
Ray: My first performance was at the Savoy Club on the Westside of Corpus Christi, Texas. We were called the Savoy Playboys. The drummer – I don’t remember his real name, because everybody had nicknames, we called him Hatti. The bass and guitar player was Predo Hinahosa, who we called Sonny. I played guitar and bass, and sang all of the vocals.
IPM: What was your drive, when you began, what was the music scene like?
Ray: It was excitement, and freedom from the hard work I had been doing for very little pay. I wanted a better life than I had up to that point. To see people dance and have a good time during that time was a thrill.
IPM: You have a rich history in music, some great accomplishments. What stands out as your greatest moment?
Ray: Some of my greatest moments were traveling around the country at that young age and learning more about life, and having the pleasure to work behind some of the stars of the day. The biggest highlight was being the opening act for the Tina Turner tour of South Africa in 1980.
IPM: I see you have worked with some of the greatest names in music; may we ask who was the one that you feel was the best?
Ray: I think all of the artists I had the pleasure to be around, were all great in their own right. One highlight I will mention is when I saw Curley Mays at the Empire Room in Dallas, Texas around 1961, play “The Things I Used To Do”, on guitar, with his toes. Curley played for (the late) Etta James.
IPM: You have traveled the world and entertained millions with your music, what performance do you look back on with pride?
Ray: I think the South African tour was the highlight, because that was the first time I was playing in front of a crowd that size. I am very proud of that tour, to this day.
IPM: I understand you teach music, how do your students look at your craft? And with today’s technology, do you feel that it takes away from the music’s natural emotion?
Ray: My students ask a lot of questions about the music business, and I try to give them what they call “the real”, about the ups and down of the business. The new technology has its place, and I also think it takes away from the natural feel we had back in the day.
IPM: As we leave Black History Month, and I hope that it is ok to ask this, as a man of color, do you feel that people may not have given you the respect you were due in the past, and do you find people more accepting now to the musician of color?
Ray: In my opinion, I agree with Morgan Freeman, Black History (Month) should be every month of the year. I have never had a major recording deal, it’s not because I haven’t tried. Yes, some of it has been for the lack of respect, not willing to give me a fair deal. I can say things are better now, than when I started, and I will also say, I don’t think things are where they should be in 2016. Yes, people are very nice to me from all walks of life.
IPM: You were a Grammy-Nominated artist, which is a great honor. What do you feel today’s artists should do as far as gaining respect and recognition?
Ray: I think the artists of today, when it comes to blues music, should study the masters of this music, and don’t try to change it into something else. Play it with all your heart and soul.
IPM: In closing, what would you like to share with our readers, anything really, but what message would you give the youth of today from a great musician’s point of view?
Ray: Study music history, let’s try to tell the truth, and let the music keep us together, because it brought us together, and if we do that, I think we will have a better world.
Other Recent Articles and News on Ray Brooks
Coming Up Magazine – “King of the High Desert Blues”
Music News Nashville – “Elder Statesman of the Blues Still Going Strong”
Victorville Daily Press – “Making The Blues Red Hot”
Ray Brooks on Facebook facebook.com/raybrooksblues