Texanadians Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi (formerly of Toronto Canada) met Tom Easley of AVA Entertainment in 2019 and discussed making a record, making a real recording, blending old school with new tricks and now have a recording that some listeners are calling “new vintage”. 

Recorded in Raymond Mississippi (a suburb of Jackson), Tom assembled some stellar musicians such as Chalmers Davis and Sam Brady, who he had worked with at Malaco Records (as an engineer). Rhythm section is brothers Micah and Joel May from Jackson Mississippi.  James Lawlis, horn guru form Toronto Canada, Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters adds his guitar style along with John Fannin (formerly with Rusty Weir/Jerry Jeff Walker). Rounding things out is Geri O’Neil adding some bass and background vocals , along with Lil Miss Debi and Danny Brooks. Special thanks to Professor Andrew Lewis, who added piano/B3 on “We Do Whatever It Takes”, and who helped enormously on bed-tracks. Says Tom Easley“this is a recording for these times, and people need to hear these songs and what they are saying!”

The recording hearkens to a time when artists lived what they sang about, and wrote from the depths of those life experiences seared into their souls. You cannot scrub the Mississippi grit that clings to each of these tracks on “Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions!” Perhaps Greg Martin said it best years ago, and a little prophetic,”Listening to Danny Brooks is like driving out of Memphis Tennessee on a Sunday morning into the Mississippi Delta, listening to WDIA. It’s one of those things where time stands still. A dash of Eddie Hinton (Jerry Wexler referred to Eddie as the white Otis), Solomon Burke, Reverend James Cleaveland, and Howlin’ Wolf are all ingredients in Danny’s soulful, musical stew!”

"This terrific, musically multi-layered new album might be the best thing Danny Brooks & Lil Miss Debi have done to date." Brant Zwicker ATC Radio

REVIEWS

 

Written by: Mark Smitty (January 2021)

The husband and wife duo, Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi, are joined on this 20 track set by a host of musicians who add heaping doses of guitars, keys, horns and background vocals. The resulting set covers a broad swath of blues, roots and Americana. Unlike many straight blues discs, the duo do not focus their attention on bad luck, bad relationships or bad habits. Instead, much of the material here extols the virtues of love as the antidote to bad choices, "Broken", the need to grab tightly onto love lest it disappear from your grasp, "Hold On To Love", the fact that life doesn’t have a lot of meaning without love, "Without Love", and the necessity of being honest about the true nature of a relationship, "Let Me Know". Elsewhere, they focus on the need to always do the right thing, "No Easy Way Out", the need to take stock of how your debits and credits add up in life, "Where Will You Stand", and the need to look outside yourself once in a while for answers, "Climb That Mountain". They also ruminate on the distance between always being just short of where you need to be, "One More Mile", and finally finding the way to the comfort of home and the relationships that are important, "Coming Home". Not everything here is so philosophical. The title track is an energetic rocker that sets the stage for a weekend party quoting Free’s "All Right Now" while "Me and Brownie McGhee" is Brook’s autobiographical tale of the night he joined Brownie McGhee on stage and proved his mettle as a bluesman. "Rock N Roll Was the Baby" repeats the old cliché that the daddy of rock and roll was the blues. In addition to taking on a wide variety of topics, the band also spreads its sonic wings to include folk, "Angel from Montgomery", Reggae, "Jamaica Sun" and Cajun, "Put a little Rock N’ Roll In Your Soul". Lyrically and sonically diverse, there is much to like about this disc.

 

Written by:  Steve Jones (December 2020)

Texas transplants Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi met Tom Easley from AVA in 2019 and the two former Canadians and Easley set in motion the plan to record a throwback album in the small suburb of Jackson Mississippi of Raymond. Tom assembled a team of musicians to make this recording a reality. Brooks wrote all but one track, the John Prine song “Angel From Montgomery.” Danny handles the lead vocals, guitar, slide, harp and stompboard while Debi helps on vocals and cajon and adds her “The Deb Bone Suitcase Snare.” The back line of Joel May (drums) and Micah May or Geri O’Neil (bass) are solid throughout. Greg Martin adds guitar and slide as does John Fannin. The keys are handled well by Chalmers Davis and Sam Brady; Davis adds accordion while Brady does the piano work. James Lawlis does the baritone and tenor saxes, clarinet and flute and on “The Battle” the tuba is done by Peter Hysen and the trumpet by Paul Mitchell.

The title track starts things off. It’s a southern rocker with really nice horns and guitar work. A short tenor sax and guitar solo are also featured. “Jesus Had The Blues” follows, a slow and gritty tune about yearning for his love, and he says, “love is a hurting thing, that’s why Jesus had the blues.” A nice guitar solo is offered here and the organ support helps the musical flow. Things switch to a funky Caribbean style with “Jamaica Sun.” Here we get a good harp solo and the harmonica helps take this home, too. “We Do Whatever It Takes” is a somber, bluesy ballad with the organ and backing vocals giving us a churchy feel. Next we get a little rockabilly feeling with “Let Me Know,” a driving and high energy tune. We get a pretty guitar solo to savor, too. Up next is “No Easy Way Out,” a slower tune with slide, organ and horns making things interesting. We finally get to hear Lil Miss Debi leading the vocals for part of the tune and she does a fine job. The slide guitar is haunting and cool. “Angel From Montgomery” follows, with a sultry and easy going country feel to it. Debi returns and sings kind of angelically, as the title certainly implies. The harp and flow is a slow country ballad and it’s well done.

“Coming Home” is a bouncy tune and picks the pace up a bit and we get some testifying about returning home. The vocal work here is by far the best effort since the start. That is followed by “One More Mile (To Mississippi);” it’s got sort of a hill country vibe to it and the harp work is well done. The vocals again are better and the Debi’s back up is sweet. “Rock and Roll Was The Baby” hearkens to the roots of rock in the blues. It’s a down home cut that pays homage to the blues giving birth to the blues. More interesting harp here and some good call and response. “Where Will You Stand” is a Gospel blues that asks where will you stand on the day of judgement? It’s a cool cut with powerful lyrics and feel and we all go to church musically. The organ sets the tone and a little harp helps, too. “Hold On To Love” has that down home sound that guitar, organ and piano give us in this sad but slick downtempo number. The guitar solo is probably the best one of the album and really helps express the feeling of the cut. “Broken” rocks out and changes things up from the last track. It’s a bouncy, driven little cut that talks about how people and hearts can be broken but love repairs us and gets us back together. The slide guitar here is also nicely done. “Climb That Mountain” slows the pace back down with another blues ballad. The lyrics are powerful and tell a great story about growing and learning to become a better man. The harp returns to help out nicely again.

“Put A Little Rock and Roll In Your Soul” is a bouncy and jumping country piece from the hills with a call and response theme going. It’s fun and the harp gives it more of that do si do, get up and do an old time country dance feel. “Without Love” is a soulful song that talks about losing love and a broken heart. “Without love you can’t get very far,” is the choral theme; more harp work abounds. “Me And Brownie McGhee” is a bio song that tells the story of meeting Brownie and getting to play with him on stage. Harp soloing pays homage to McGhee here. “Tell Me About It” is an upbeat cut that explains life ain’t fair but together he and you can get through it if you do what the title says. “When I’m Holding You” returns to the ballad theme and the lilting electric guitar makes this slow southern rocker have feeling. The final track is “The Battle” and opens with some tuba which continues to carry the piece as the vocals grind out and the horns support the piece. The devil is telling us we’re in a battle for your soul in this dark conclusion to the album. Harp and guitar add their stuff in solos and throughout, but it’s big horn groove that also helps drive this along.

The original songs feature great lyrics and the performances are all solid musically. The one downside for me is Danny’s vocals; they are rough and gruff and his voice cracks a lot. I suspect that is part of his charm but it was a little off putting to me as he strains and tries to deliver real emotion. The emotion is there, however, and Brooks does get his feelings across. Debi’s voice is silky smooth and she backs Brooks with great harmonies; when she does get the opportunity to front the band, she does so superbly.

There is a lot of music here, 20 songs in all, 19 originals and one cool cover. Brooks delivers some really good tunes and if you can get by or like the vocals then things are good. A lot of good work went into the plethora of songs here. The instrumental work is great and the harmonies are excellent. Southern rock, roots music and a smattering of other styles get blended up well and offer up a nice variety here, with something for all musical tastes while blues rock solidly centers the effort.

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

 

 

BLUES AGAIN

Written By:  Mark Mercier (December 2020)

Thirty years on the road already for Danny Brooks, the lifelong writer who is releasing his eleventh album today. The man is generous: 20 tracks, all composed for the occasion, 80 minutes of travel in the depths of America electrified at heart, a sort of synthetic trip between the southern Appalachians and the Saint-Louis River Delta. Originally from Canada, living in Austin in the United States, he claims to be the creator of the Texassippi style and promotes it with a form of therapeutic relentlessness that is a pleasure to hear. This neologism fits right in with Daniel's project, an artist of sharing and raw sensations, without pomp or fuss, who here offers us the full range of North American music: there is blues, rock'n'roll, a reggae return on the luminous 'Jamaica Sun', bursts of zydeco with 'Put A Little Rock' n 'Roll In Your Soul', a Cajun plot in the athletic 'Broken', and soul music introspections hover everywhere and the gospel atmosphere specific to those who have faith. This is the essence of the genre we call Americana. The voice of Brooks, mature, abrasive and nuanced, feverish his texts strong in themes, the fight against the old demons, the cracks of the beings, the Grim Reaper who prowls, the inevitable saving Love.  His wife Lil Miss Debi takes care of the backing vocals and sometimes the vocals, also swinging pretty rhythms on a rudimentary snare. We navigate pure emotionality over beautiful melodies, but we must not seek in this opus the audacity of the guitar hero: the solos, sober and surgical, are given sparingly. The arrangements are rich, the sound recording and mixing, provided by producer Tom Easley, are excellent. Danny surrounded himself with a squad of talented musicians, Joel May on drums, Micah May and Geri O'Neil on bass, Greg Martin on six strings, Chalmers Davis and Sam Brady on keyboards, James Lawlis, Paul Mitchell and Peter Hysen holding the brass. He also invited Professor Lewis who sprinkles the ballad 'We Do Whatever It Takes' with his delicate piano flakes, as well as the illustrious John Fannin joining his guitar to that of the conductor on five songs. When the cake stops spinning, the obvious is obvious: it is a dense and meaningful work. Are you ready? asks the maestro. Without hesitation, we stay in the pickup and set off for twenty laps of the Deep South with him!

 

 

Published by: Rambles (November 2020)

The back cover of the next album offers this warning: "The artist/record label is not responsible for any traffic violation incurred while listening to Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions and driving. Listen to at your own risk." My response was the equivalent of "uh huh," and I went on with whatever I was doing when the CD arrived. A couple of weeks later, in the course of an evening spent catching up on review discs that had accumulated in the interim, I put Are You Ready? on the player with minimal expectation. If I'd heard of Danny Brooks & Lil Miss Debi (his wife Debi Brooks), I'd forgotten. I presumed they were just another un-thrilling white blues act.

Within about three minutes, I felt so disoriented that I thought maybe it was fortunate I hadn't been at the wheel. It's rare that one encounters such instantly appealing, startlingly hard-hitting music, a fusion of various familiar genres rendered with imagination and assurance. Incredibly, though there are no fewer than 20 cuts (filling up 80 minutes, the maximum a CD can hold), there is not a single throwaway. Recordings like this don't come around often.

Born in 1951, Danny Brooks grew up in Canada, where he began playing in a range of bands -- rock, gospel, blues, country -- while struggling with personal demons, some of which landed him in prison for a short stretch in 1972. Brooks claims he learned to write songs behind bars, which if true suggests he put his time to remarkably good use. After that Brooks, who later moved to Memphis (he now lives in Texas), cut a number of albums. From the evidence of the latest, I infer they are pretty decent, but I can't imagine any could be an improvement on this one. Brooks himself says he departed from his comfort zone this time. The record never sounds uncomfortable, though.

It's easier to enjoy Ready than to review it. Let me put it this way: Though not the work of a native Southerner, it starts with a hard-core r&b template and from it builds a structure far more interesting and sturdy than, at least in my hearing, the so-called Southern rock that may have been an original inspiration. Brooks' approach is deeper, clearly the product of a more profound connection with grassroots musical traditions and in searing life experience. Also, Brooks knows how to write a good song, one that grabs you and sticks in your head long after it's gone.

He also knows how -- and is more than able -- to sing the stuffing out of this stuff, as a soul vocalist when appropriate, a bluesman at other times, a country-folk-rockabilly singer elsewhere, even reggae (on the killer "Jamaica Sun"), yet all the while claiming the songs and genres as his own. His vocals are astounding. He also has the benefit of a brilliant and sympathetic producer, the veteran Texas-based Tom Easley, and a small but exquisite band.

Finally, he has had the genius and the grace to write a song, and a true story yet, titled "Me & Brownie McGhee." Thank you, sir.

Written by:  Philip Verhaege (November 2020)

Based in Llano, Texas, Danny 'Texassippi Soul Man' Brooks has the musicality that spans both the Texas blues sound and many Mississippi tunes. Danny involves all this and calls it ingenious 'Texassippi'. He grew up with a lot of country, blues and soul music and was privileged to one day open for Brownie McGhee. Danny was introduced by Mitch Lopate to Johnny Sandlin, the legendary producer of Capricorn Records. That brought him to Decatur Alabama to record the album 'No Easy Way Out' with many Muscle Shoals musicians such as David Hood, Spooner Oldham, Bonnie Bramlett, Frazer Mohawk and bassist Tim Drummond. As Texassippi Soul Man Danny Brooks, he has toured extensively with Lil 'Miss Debi in recent years, and together the duo recorded the albums' Texassippi Soul Man '(2012),' This World Is Not Your Friend 'in 2015 and' Get Your Joy. On '. Now there is the long-awaited "Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions ". Danny Books and wife Miss Debi entered the studio with a whole host of guest artists. That resulted in twenty songs that depict the trials of life, love and the hard lessons of life. Rock songs like "Are You Ready" are colored with those supreme vocals, heavy guitar riffs and a Memphis soul horn section. And that horn section will also enthuse the soul ballads "Jesus Had The Blues" and "Coming Home". The track "Jamaica Sun" has that typical reggae tune, and that diverges with the gospel songs "We Do Whatever It Takes" and "Let Me Know". Lil 'Miss Debi takes the vocal honors in the mid-tempo blues track "No Easy Way Out", just like in the goosebumps caput "Angel From Montgomery", original by John Mayer. With "One More Mile" (To Mississippi) and "Rock N Roll Was The Baby" we go to the Deep South. The radio-friendly 'Where Will You Stand', the country inspired 'Hold On To Love', the heavy blues rocker 'Broken', the folky 'Climb That Mountain' and the Cajun inspired 'Put A Little Rock n Roll In Your Soul' in pleasant contrast to the Chicago gospel blues inspired 'Without Love' and the autobiographical 'Me and Brownie McGhee'. From the nice foot-stomping "Tell Ma About It" it swiftly goes to the Southern rock ballad "When I'm Holding You" and the playful closing song "The Battle". Danny Brooks voice timbre with that low, raw, almost growling voice is here with a big nod to Tom Waits.

 

Written by:  Adriae Webb (November 2020)

Danny Brooks & Lil Miss Debi “Are You Ready” His House Records Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters describes Danny Brooks as “Driving out of Memphis on a sunny Saturday morning into the Mississippi Delta”, and Kyle Lehning: Producer/ Randy Travis says “Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi’s is as authentic as it gets. Real music that speaks soul to soul!” As I listen to his album “Are You Ready” for the third time and enjoying every bit of it, I describe the overall sound as organic. You can feel the truth in his music. No pitch correction or studio manipulation here. Instead you get the feel of a live Blues performance. Brooks is known as a blues and gospel blues artist. His music reflects influences drawn from bluegrass, country and R&B. He has released nine albums in his more than 40 years as a performer. Brooks and his band have performed at blues festivals across North America, including at the televised Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Beaches International Jazz Festival in Toronto. October 2012 saw the release of “Texassippi Soul Man”, Brooks first effort since moving south to Llano, Texas His Awards Include: Blues Hall of Fame 2009 Blues Ambassador to Ontario, Canada. CGMA Covenant Awards 2006 nominee, Best Jazz/ Blues Album of the Year: Soulsville: Rock This House. Independent Music Awards 2008 nominee, Favourite Blues Artist/Group or Duo of the Year Shai Awards 2007 Best Jazz/Blues Album Of The Year: Soulsville: Rock This House. Let’s dive into the album musicians which include Brothers Joel & Micah May - Drums & Bass, Chalmers Davis - B3/Wurlitzer, Sam Brady – B3/Piano/ Rhodes, Professor Andrew Lewis – B3/ Piano Greg Martin – Guitar/Slide, John Fannin – Guitar/Slide, Vocals – Debi Brooks, Rusty Weir & Jerry Jeff Walker. Geri O'Neil – Bass/Vocals. Horns - James Lawlis, Horns/Clarinet/Flute, Paul Mitchel, Trumpet & Peter Hysen, Tuba. As for the cd “Are You Ready”, Brooks offers his listeners a very generous TWENTY track compilation of several genre inspired music that he is known for such as the many different styles of Blues, a little Gospel, and even a Jamaican reggae inspired song. There is something for everyone in this album and it’s all good. On the title track 1 “Are You Ready” Brooks comes out swinging with an upbeat blues rendition with a great driving beat, great guitar leads and a light sprinkling from the horn section. Track 3 “Jamaican Sun” is a fun reggae inspired song that is best played while on the beach with a cold one in your hand. On this track Brooks distinct raspy voice and backup vocals along with the blues harp and horns take center stage. A fun song that will put anyone in the groove. On track 5 “Let Me Know” is a certified stand up and testify Gospel song that will get everyone on their feet. Danny, if you are reading this, adding a church choir as back up singers would be a real show stopper. On track 7 “Angels From Montgomery” Brooks gives the lead vocals to his wife Lil Miss Debi (Brooks) and Danny does backup vocals. The excellent harp playing adds a cowboy on the prairie feel. Track 11 “Where Will You Stand” is a soulful rendition with a strong Bruce Springsteen feel to it. I can easily see Springsteen doing this song. As a matter of fact Brooks even sounds like Springsteen on this song. Talk about different? Track 15 is titled “Put A Little Rock & Roll In Your Soul” but if you listen it’s more like what would be played at a country ho-down. Ever been to a country ho-down?? Me either, but this is the knee slapping, hay in the barn kinda music I would imagine played there. Track 19 “When I’m Holding You” is an easy going love ballad where Brooks sings his sentiment for his wife Lil Miss Debi. I think it’s safe to say that anyone who learns and sings this song to their significant other would earn countless brownie points… Lastly we have track 20 “The Battle”, one of my favorites. Every time it reminds me of the Blues Brothers movie at the end where the band is playing “Minnie The Moocher” with Cab Calloway. All aspects of Brooks great band is highlighted here. From the 1920’s style horn arrangement underscored by a tuba no less to great harmonica and guitar leads throughout. What does this mean? An instant smile as your head starts bobbing to the beat. Love it. One final note that needs mentioning in creating a successful 20 track album is not only the music itself but where each song is positioned to maintain listener interest and Brooks did a great job. As I said in my intro, the cd has a little something for everyone and its all good!! The cd “Are You Ready” can be found at DannyBrooksMusic.com and as you probably guessed by now – I highly recommend it. Until Next Time - Adrian Webb

 

Written by: Chris Spector (November 2020)

DANNY BROOKS & LIL MISS DEBI/Are You Ready?: Certainly you remember the good times that went with music that came out of that vortex of Memphis, Macon and Muscle Shoals. This record came from that time and place, with several of the cats from that time and place lending hands. Recording in suburban Jackson, there's a soupcon of Malaco in the mix as well. Tasty, real music set that vet rockers will love kicking it out to. Solid stuff. 
(His House 7) 

Written by: Bman - Bman's Blues Report (January 2021)

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Are You Ready? - The Mississippi Sessions from Danny Brooks & LIl Miss Debi.  Opening with straight up rocker and title track, Are You Ready? Danny Brooks leads the way on vocal and guitar with Debi on vocal, Chalmers Davis on B3, Joel May on drums, Micah May on bass, Geri O'Neil on bass.  Jesus Had the Blues has a cool strut with soulful lead guitar and vocal by Brooks, and with James Lawlis on sax, Paul Mitchell on trumpet, and Peter Hysen on tuba.  Very nice.  With revival gospel styling, Let Me Know is full of energy with Danny and Debi trading vocal and vibrant drum work by May.  Debi gets her lead vocal showcase on John Prine's Angel From Montgomery.  A cool duet with Brooks on vocal, guitar and harmonica, this is the choice radio track for the release.  My favorite track on the release is One More Mile (To Mississippi), a stripped down hill country style collar with cajon and harmonica under lead vocal.  Very nice.  With a full load of sou, When I'm Holding You is another particular track with a strong melody, warm keys and guitar and Brook's best vocal on the release.  Wrapping the release is cool track, The Battle with gritty vocals by Brooks and great tuba work by Peter Hysen and strong trumpet work by Mitchell.  This a dynamite closing for a solid release.

 

Written By: La Hora Del Blues (January 2021)

Danny Brooks & Lil Miss Debi "Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions".  His House/Michelle Castiglia 2020.  Danny Brooks is well known among fans as an excellent Texan singer and guitarist.  For her part, Lil Miss Debi is a Canadian singer based in Texas.  Both musicians had long wanted to record an album together.  To do this, they contacted Tom Easley from AVA Entertainment and they proposed to him to carry out a job in which old school songs were combined with more contemporary ones in a style that has been described as 'new vintage'.  The album was recorded in Raymond, Mississippi, a town close to Jackson, bringing together a more that remarkable staff of instrumentalists, which has resulted in a bold, successful, and daring work not without a great musical and instrumental quality.  The album mixes blues, American music with roots, soul, gospel and some rock, in addition to varied influences, among which those of artists such as Eddie Hinton, Solomon Burke, Reverend James Cleaveland or Howlin 'Wolf stand out.  Both Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi give themselves with extreme passion and all their soul to interpret the music that comes from the bottom of their hearts and that will surely impact your hearts fully when you listen to this magnificent work.  VERY GOOD.  Danny Brooks is well known among fans as an excellent Texas singer and guitar player.  On the other hand Lil Miss Debi is a Canadian singer now based in Texas.  For quite a long time both musicians were thinking to record an album together.  To do so they got in touch with Tom Easley of AVA Entertainment and proposed him to do a recording where old school songs were combined with some contemporary ones, making a personal style that has been described as a 'new vintage'.  The album was recorded in Raymond, Mississippi, a town near Jackson, bringing up a more than remarkable set of instrumentalists, which gave as a result a clever, audacious, successful and daring job with an undeniable musical and instrumental quality.  The album combines blues and American roots music spiced with soul, gospel and some rock, where you will also find other influences, like those of artists like Eddie Hinton, Solomon Burke, Reverend James Cleaveland or Howlin 'Wolf.  Both Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi give the most passionate soulful performing that comes from their hearts that surely will also impact in your hearts when you listen to this magnificent recording. GREAT.

  

Written by: Norman Darwen (December 2020)

DANNY BROOKS & LIL MISS DEBI
ARE YOU READY? THE MISSISSIPPI SESSIONS
His House Records


Now don’t get me wrong but listening to these twenty trackers is a bit like taking a breathless whistle-stop tour of the south, centered on Mississippi and music from south of the Mason - Dixon line. Conversely though, the opener (which is also the title track) is inspired by vocalist Paul Rodgers, with a solidly grooving southern rock approach and even a slight nod to Free’s All Right Now. It makes for a memorable start, but the quality of the set never lets up, from the excellent moody modern blues of Jesus Had The Blues and the swampy No Easy Way Out to the relaxed, reggae-tinged gospel- blues of Jamaica Sun, Lil Miss Debi’s showcase version of John Prine’s folky Americana classic Angel From Montgomery and the raw Hill Country sound of One More Mile (To Mississippi). It is not surprising then to learn that this Texanadian (as they put it) husband and wife duo recorded this set in Raymond, Mississippi, a suburb of Jackson, and it was produced by former Malaco Records engineer Tom Easley. Danny sings most of the leads, and plays guitar, harp and stomp board whilst Miss Debi takes
the occasional lead, adds heavenly harmonies and thumps the cajon. They are aided and abetted by the likes of gospel-steeped rhythm section Joel and Micah May out of Jackson (drums and bass respectively), vastly experienced keyboards player Chalmers Davis, guitarist Greg Martin of The Kentucky Headhunters and many others. If you are looking for an individual and vastly entertaining set of blues, soul, R’n’B, gospel, southern rock, Americana and folk, guaranteed to put a smile on your face, you won’t go wrong with this.

 

Written by: Bob Silvestri (December 2020)

The new album from Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi titled Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions is an authentic slice of real life experiences played out in song. Recorded just outside of Jackson, Mississippi the Toronto natives and current residents of Texas tap into the gritty feel of the mighty river and southern soul and blues. Helping on the album are a crack team of session aces Chalmers Davis, Sam Brady, Micah and Joel May, James Lawlis, John Fannain, Geri O'Neil and special guests Professor Andrew Lewis and Greg Martin from the Kentucky Headhunters. Brooks and Miss Debi offer up a host of outstanding tracks among the twenty tracks here including the title cut and opening track "Are You Ready?" a get in the mood for a good time romp, the instant blues classic "Jesus Had The Blues", the positive vibes of "Jamaica Sun", "No Easy Way Out" a greasy in the pocket jam, the sweet sounds of "Coming Home", "Rock N Roll Was The Baby", the roots anthem "Where Will You Stand", and the ballad about that someone special "Hold On To Love". Further treats include a cover of the John Prine classic "Angel From Montgomery" a showcase track from Miss Debi, the autobiographical upbeat rocker "Broken", the Cajun flavored and sage advice tune "Put A Little Rock N Roll In Your Soul", the soulful "Without Love", the acoustic boogie "Me and Brownie McGhee" a true tale about meeting the blues legend and "When I'm Holding You" about your true love and soul mate. Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi and their album Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions is an ambitious effort and a throwback to the time was the blues was born. Check out www.dannybrookstexassippisoulman.com or www.facebook.com/TexassippiSoulManDannyBrooks for more information about Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi and their album Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions.

Written by: John Taylor (December 2020) 

Part memoir, part altar call, Danny Brooks and Lil’ Miss Debi’s “Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions” is a masterful work that’s timely, yet timeless. Like a favorite Bible verse, it’s one you’ll want to turn to more than once — it’s salve for the soul in an anxious age. 

Joined by an impressive collection of backing musicians, the 69-year-old “Texassippi Soul Man” has produced a 20-song album that revisits familiar sounds and places with the wisdom of a man who’s traveled far, learned much and now sees things from a hard-won perspective. 

Summoning revival-style gospel, harmonica-rich Mississippi country blues, a little downtown Memphis style and some smooth slide guitar work, Brooks offers encouragement to the sinner, comfort to the weary and warnings to those who would take love for granted. 

As the note introducing the title song puts it: “Life can be brutal at times and beautiful at other times. It’s what we make it, in spite of being dealt a bad hand. Life comes at everybody like a freight train, it does not pick favorites. There is no easy way out, but there is peace for those that seek it.” 

The playlist further underscores the point. 

“I know I’m not a righteous man,” he sings on “Climb That Mountain,” “but sinners need help, too.” 

Other songs – “We Do Whatever It Takes,” “No Easy Way Out,” “Where Will You Stand?” and “The Battle” come to mind – also speak to truths Brooks has learned the hard way. 

The Canada native has tight-roped between sin and salvation from his childhood days of reciting Scripture on street corners at his father’s bidding to a short-term prison stay in the 1970s. But these days, living in Llano, Texas, he’s made peace with his mistakes — and he’s made his decisions. 

“You learn how to win when you know what it’s like to fall,” he adds on “Climb That Mountain.” 

One of the more poignant moments on the album comes on “Angel From Montgomery.” It’s perhaps the most heartfelt and genuine rendition of John Prine’s classic since he released it back in 1971. 

Recorded in Raymond, Mississippi – just outside Jackson – the band includes guitarists Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters and John Fannin, who formerly worked with Rusty Weir and Jerry Jeff Walker. Micah and Joel May comprise the rhythm section, James Lawlis plays horns and Geri O’Neil provides bass and background vocals. Chalmers Davis and Sam Brady round out the group, along with Professor Andrew Lewis, who mixes in keyboards on “We Do Whatever It Takes.” 

Like Brooks and Lil’ Miss Debi, the versatile group can tighten up or ease off at will, but they remain consistent and true throughout the album. 

And consistent and true might be the best two words to describe their overall effort here. 

  

 

Written by: Michael Seget (November 2020) 

Texassippi Soul Man Danny Brooks and his wife Lil Miss Debi have put the output of their Mississippi sessions on a full CD. With the twenty songs they undertake a foray through blues, Americana and rock. “Are You Ready?” Appears undisguised and handmade and delivers high quality titles in all styles. Danny Brooks explains that the blues is the father of rock ‘n roll (" Rock N Roll Was The Baby ") and that Jesus already owned the blues (" Jesus Had The Blues "). It is therefore advisable to look at the blues titles at the beginning of the review. Brooks locates the concrete roots of his music in the Mississippi Delta. His smoky, scratchy voice also goes perfectly with this one. Brooks sounds almost like Tom Waits on “The Battle”. The title receives additional drive from the winds, who also enhance several other pieces. The majority of his blues-infiltrated songs shifts into a brisk gear (“Me And Brownie McGhee”) and occasionally he lets it rattle properly with resonator guitar and harmonica (“One More Mile (To Mississippi)”). In the duet with Lil Miss Debi "No Easy Way Out" Brooks slows down the tempo a bit, but the song remains powerful. The strong "We Do Whatever It Takes" moves between blues and Americana. With “Where Will you Stand” Brooks adds another great track in this direction. When Brooks turns to Americana, his songs are partly reminiscent of John Hiatt ("When I'm Holding You"). Lil Miss Debi contributes a soulful version of John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery" to the work. With the exception of this classic, all songs are from Brooks. On "Climb That Mountain" he shows that he can sing atmospheric ballads himself. Does “Are You Ready?” Offer some delicacies in the blues and Americana, the rock songs are the highlight of the menu. In the style of early Southside Johnny, Brooks serves his rock with a good helping of soul. James Lawlis shines on the saxophone on the title track and on “Coming Home”. Harmonica and organs in connection with a strong background choir bring the good old days back to life with “Without Love”. Somewhat out of line are “Jamaica Sun”, which has a slight hint of reggae, and the Schunkel number “Put A Little Rock N‘ Roll In Your Soul ”, which creates dancehall flair in a combination of Cajun and country. Nevertheless, the tracks integrate into the overall work without a break. Its musical range is expanded with “Let Me Know”, which is influenced by gospel. Other musicians would have made two, perhaps more conceptually oriented, releases out of the extensive material. But who wants to complain about a rich offer when the display is so tempting? The booklet designed by Lil Miss Debi deserves a special mention. In addition to the texts and short comments on the songs, photos with information on the musicians involved are also printed on 24 pages. Danny Brooks is now slowly approaching seventy and, together with Lil Miss Debi, presents a fresh, almost 80-minute-long album on which he shows that he knows his way around blues, Americana and rock. Despite the different stylistic influences, “Are You Ready?” Remains an authentic-looking work that skilfully combines the various musical styles, which are indeed related to each other.

 

Written by: Fred Delforge (November 2020)

This album by the Texans from Toronto, Ontario, was born from the meeting of Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi and Tom Easley of AVA Entertainment, and a common desire to record something new, but in an up-to-date configuration. old, what some scholars sometimes call new vintage… So it's in the company of Greg Martin and John Fannin on guitars, Micah May and Gery O'Neil on bass, Chalmers Davis and Sam Brady on keyboards, James Lawlis on saxophones and Joel May on drums that Danny Brooks on vocals and guitars but also on harmonica and Lil Miss Debi on vocals and percussion went to the studio in Raymond, in the suburb of Jackson, Mississippi, to put in box twenty titles in which we notice very beautiful pieces of blues but also some treasures of rock or America, styles that the two singers really master at the fingertips. A few guests like Professor Lewis on Hammond organ and piano, Paul Mitchell on trumpet and Peter Hysen on trombone and here we are in good company to explore beautiful things like "Jesus Had The Blues", "Jamaica Sun" , "Angel From Montgomery", "Where Will You Stand", "Without Love", "Me And Brownie McGhee" or "When I'm Holding You", original titles that each stand out in their own way on the large palette color of black and white American music. Like a long road trip that would take us from Memphis to the depths of the Delta on Highway 61 and behind the wheel of a convertible racing car distilling local music, "Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions ”turns out to be a very beautiful testimony to what the region has the best in terms of influences and sounds, an album thought and recorded with the guts but also with the heart which offers us the best of what these Texanadians have it in them. A real musical melting pot in which it is good to get lost in order to better find your way around a slide, a long harmonica tirade or even a few summary percussions!

 

Written by: Freddy Celis (November 2020)

"Are You Ready" is a new album from Danny Brooks & Lil Miss Debi operating out of Texas. As Texassippi Soul Man Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi, they have toured North America extensively for the past 5 years. With the completion of two CDs, "Texassippi Soul Man" (2012) and "This World Is Not Your Friend" (2015) there is now their latest release, this "Are You Ready?". Now based in Llano Texas, Danny Brooks 'Texassippi Soul Man' has blended the best of both Texas and Mississippi and calls it 'Texassippi'. He grew up with Hank Williams, Solomon Burke, Taj Mahal, John Lee Hooker and the Allman Brothers and Blind Boys of Alabama. So much for some info about Danny Brooks, this one about Lil Miss Debi remains mysterious The album contains 20 songs of which there is just one single cover, namely John Prine's, ... right, "Angel From Montgomery". Danny Brooks opens with a song called Are You Ready. Just like the beautiful blues, the vocal qualities of Lil Miss Debi are not immediately high days. The album was recorded in Mississippi, outside of Jackson. Brooks and Lil Miss Debi identify as Texanadians. The 20 songs are a blend of blues, swampy Americana but also some catchy gospels. To increase the diversity even more with "Jamaica Sun" we even get a piece of reggae, one that goes in smoothly. Delicious soul blues then again with "We Do Whatever It Takes" after which we end up in sixth gear in gosland with "Let Me Know". It is the variety of songs that make up the album and that's how Lil Miss Debi comes into the spotlight with "Angel From Montgomery". Soul à volenté then with songs like "Coming Home" and the romantic ballad "Where Will You Stand". Unexpectedly, both show up with their child on "Rock 'n Roll Was The Baby". On songs like "Clim That Mountain" and "Put A Little Rock 'n Roll in Your Soul" they take us on a country tour in Texas, just for the ambiance. "Without Love" is a blues and gospel sensitive soul song that can be good, after which we move towards the cotton field with Brownie McGhee with "Me and Brownie McGhee". Danny Brooks & Lil Miss Debi were a blank slate for myself and yes from now on I also feel like a Texanadian and thus connected to their "Texassippi" ..... Sometimes, and certainly with the soulful ballads, they shine a light on the Holmes Brothers.

 

Written by: Eric Schuurmans (November 2020)

The Canadian R&B musician, singer-songwriter, author Danny Brooks is musically active from his current home base Llana in Texas. Brooks grew up with Hank Williams, Solomon Burke, Taj Mahal, John Lee Hooker, the Allman Brothers, Blind Boys of Alabama and Rev. Jumpin' Jim Jericho. Through his older brother he discovered the records of Joe Tex, Bobby Blue Bland and Sam Cooke.

With Brooks you immediately get two music styles in your house. The Blues come from the swampy Mississippi Delta and the warm Soul of Memphis, to which he owes the stage name "Texassippi Soul Man". Brooks performs with several complete bands like Danny Brooks & The Rockin' Revelators (with whom he recorded the Soulsville trilogy), Danny Brooks & The Austin Brotherhood and with Danny Brooks & The Memphis Brothers. He is also part of the Northern Blues Gospel Allstar choir. In between he's also involved with singer / percussionist and partner "Lil Miss" Debi (Middlebrook). Brooks and Lil Miss Debi identify themselves as Texanadians.

A few years ago, after the release of his seventh album, Mitch Lopate introduced him to Johnny Sandlin, the legendary producer of Capricorn Records, which brought him to Decatur in Alabama to record 'No Easy Way Out' (2007) with Sandlin with musicians from Muscle Shoals: David Hood, Spooner Oldham, Scott Boyer, Kelvin Holly, Bill Stewart, Bonnie Bramlett, Kevin McKendree, James Pennebaker, The Muscle Shoals Horns, Carla Russell & Tina Swindell. It became a highlight of his career and hard life, which was sometimes quite wrong because of alcohol and drugs.

Are You Reday? - The Mississippi Sessions' is the title of the new album/project that Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi recorded as the successor to 'Get Your Joy On' (2017) in Mississippi, outside Jackson. No less than 20 tracks -a blend of blues, swampy feeling Americana and some catchy gospels- fill the tracklist for 1h20 with 19 songs Brooks (of which he wrote one with Dean McTaggart), completed with the John Prine classic from 1971, "Angel from Montgomery", which puts Debi fully in the spotlight. The line-up (with Joel May, Micah May, Chalmers Davis, Sam Brady, Greg Martin, John Fannin, James Lawlis...) once again makes an impression.

The album opens rocking with the title track, a tasteful song on which drummer Joel May and his brother Micah can be heard on bass. Both were taken under the wings by their father Pastor May, who often had them perform in his church. Jesus also has the blues and Debi and Danny sing it out in "Jesus Had the Blues": "Love is a hurting thing, that's why Jesus had the blues...". On guitar you can hear Greg Martin here. With some reggae "Jamaica Sun" embraces the message of hope: "bad times don't last forever, soon the good times will roll...". Danny dedicates the soulblues ballad "We Do Whatever It Takes" to his spouse Debi. "Let me Know" is a gospel, singing about the openness in a relationship. Very bluesy sounds "No Easy Way Out" in which Danny talks about the beautiful and dark sides of life. "One More Mile (to Mississippi)" was first a shuffle but got an update and a lot of Hill Country feeling. Danny does the song together with Debi, who keeps the rhythm on cajun and deb-bone. Where else have we heard this: "Rock 'n Roll Was the Baby (and Daddy Was the Blues...")? With beautiful Memphis Soul you'll be immersed in "Where Will You Stand" and "Hold Onto Love" and then woken up with "Broken", the life story of Danny. What Cajun you get over you with "Put a Little Rock 'n Roll in Your Soul". Keyboard player is Chalmers Davis and bass player Geri O'Neil. With "Me and Brownie McGhee" we move into the cotton fields and "Tell Me About It" Danny wrote for daughter Caitlin. The ballad "When I'm Holding You" is followed by a declaration of love and the finale "The Battle" is based on prophecies that unfold before our eyes. Danny thought it was a "thoughtfully provocative" song, in which he focuses on the fight for a man's soul.

Danny Brooks & Lil Miss Debi were strangers until they introduced new musical beauties with their "Texassippi". Sometimes you have to dare to explore and, these "Texanadians" with their Memphis soul and Delta blues are definitely a discovery.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

QUOTES

One of the more poignant moments on the album comes on “Angel From Montgomery.” It’s perhaps the most heartfelt and genuine rendition of John Prine’s classic since he released it back in 1971.” - John Taylor

Cascade Blues Association