His web site reads, “Melding the traditions of vintage R&B and blues with the aesthetics of classic singers and songwriters, Baltimore’s Brooks Long brings the old school into the 21st century in a style all his own.”
Indeed he does. As a soloist or backed by his band, Mad Dog No Good, Brooks brings a wonderful passion, energy and humor to today’s music scene.
Brooks was born and raised in troubled West Baltimore, where his parents encouraged him toward creative outlets.
“I got a guitar when I was 13 because I heard it was the easiest instrument to write songs on, and that may or may not be true,” said Long. “I always had an interest in playing one, but I really started getting fascinated with just how songs were made and created.”
Attracted to a wide range of music from an early age and spending much of his youth in various gospel choirs, including one that found him on stage backing Shania Twain, he grew to meld his singing talent with guitar and songwriting.
“Songs. I just ate, slept and breathed songs,” he said. “Everything from Michael and Prince to The Beatles and Dylan, Motown to Chess and a thousand others. I just had to know how these songs got so damn good. And I still don’t know, but I’m having a blast trying to figure it out.”
Long has played with acts as Rebirth Brass Band, Ben Lee, Elizabeth and The Catapult, two-time Grammy Nominee Karter Jaymes and Femi the Dri Fish. In Fall 2011, he released the personal, largely acoustic “The Songster.” In 2012, Brooks was named one of DC/Baltimore’s “Best Emerging Artists” by The Deli Magazine, and released the Mad Dog No Good EP, “Let’s Make Out To Otis Redding.” The trio’s two other members are bassist Ian “Spaceman” Trusheim (who is originally from Newark, Del.) and drummer Dan “Tiger Blood” Samuels (who was born in Trenton, N.J., and grew up in Newtown, Pa., before relocating to Baltimore).
After graduating from Washington College on the Maryland Eastern Shore, Long, 28, continued his music quest.
“When I started digging deeper into the 1970s, then the 1960s, then it got back to the 1950s, now I am sort of getting back into the 1940s,” said Long. “There is a specialness that I would like to hear more in today’s music that was going on in the stuff from back then. I think that a lot of the music I like most is, in one way or another, folk music. Pop music is sort of folk music, but folk music to me is the kind of music people make when they get off work. It’s working-class music, and in the 1930s and 1940s, that was the blues for Black people. When the 1950s and 1960s rolled around, it got to be R&B and soul, and that kind of captivated the whole country and became Rock & Roll for some folks. I guess it is all about the roots of the music and what the music is needed for.”
Long’s passion, energy and humor (often a rare commodity in today's music scene), is evident in the band’s name. “'Mad Dog No Good' is the name of this one character Gary Coleman played on a couple of episodes of Martin,’” explained Long. “When I was a kid, I would watch that episode and there was something about that name that I could not stop laughing. I just thought it was one of those names that’s got that feel to it, and also it is sort of a ridiculous name. I remembered it a little bit later, and said, ‘You know what, that’s the name of the band.’”
“He loves playing his music,” said Jon Pinder, a longtime Baltimore music specialist. “Brooks Long as an artist, represents a new and fresh approach to song writing and performing. His songs are relatively simple, but there is so much meaning in each and every song. His delivery to performing the songs, is again fresh and unassuming. Brooks doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel, he just allows his music to soothe the savage beast in all of us in a more primitive manner. The Brother can sing; he can play the guitar and he enjoys doing both. He writes about everyday things that we all go through — he just has figured out how to make the listener feel his songs as he sings and plays them.”
On Saturday, May 3, at 11 p.m., Brooks Long & The Mad Dog No Good bring to their live show The Legendary Dobbs, 304 South St. For more information, call (215) 501-7288 or visit www.BrooksLong.com.