Rick Brooks is used to traveling with the music. His fingers travel up and down the fret board. He’s travelled throughout Alaska, the Lower 48 and the world to learn and play music, and on May 6 he’ll be traveling to Kenai to play at Veronica’s Cafe.
Brooks, of Anchorage, describes his personal style as “acoustic eclectic.”
“It’s an exploration. I’ll go from an Irish folk song to a jazz tune to one of my own instrumentals to a Brittany Spears tune,” Brooks said while strumming his guitar into the phone, showing his wide range. “You know, you just follow your muse at that point.”
“I’ll play some Brittany Spears, I play Katy Perry. The way I play most of those songs is you take on most of the parts,” Brooks said before breaking into “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry, taking on both guitar sections and singing the song’s infamous chorus.
Brooks started playing guitar long before Katy Perry had any songs to cover. He started taking lessons at 8 years old in Mississippi and continued to play as his family moved from place to place because of his father’s position in the military.
“When I was 10, we were at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and I found this amazing teacher … He set the groundwork,” Brooks said. “Then we moved up here and I backed off on playing a little bit … but I picked up an electric guitar and it was like ‘boom, I want to play this.’”
From Mississippi to France to Georgia to Alaska to Los Angeles and back to Alaska again, Brooks has picked up a lot of influences in each unique location he’s visited along the way.
“My roots, my preferences, are more folk-based but I play anything … I go for stuff that is a challenge on the instrument,” he said. “It comes to two things, is it a good song and is it going to be satisfying to play?”
Brooks has played all throughout Alaska, “from Nome to Homer,” and has toured throughout the country. In his early years as a musician, he spent time touring with bands.
“I played in bands up until about 1994 … which was more of a party than a career,” he said. “At some point, I had to get serious about whether I was going to be playing for the rest of my life and I didn’t want to stop playing guitar.”
So instead, Brooks decided to embark on a solo career in order to continue his passion and make a living while doing it.
“The solo thing happened and I got a lot more control of the music and being able to look ahead,” he said. “When I was in a band, I didn’t decide what I was going to be playing or what I was going to be doing in the next few weeks.”
In addition to covering songs, Brooks writes his own while still feeling the influences of the songs he plays.
“A lot of times, I’ll be noodling around with three or four songs that have a certain approach … and see if I can write something along those lines that don’t sound like those three or four songs,” he said. “I’m just noodling around with ideas and something pops out. Sometimes when I write, it’s because I want to develop a certain skill.”
Brooks’ CD, “The Mississippi John Hurt Songbook,” is out now and available at his website, akrick.com, or at his live performance on May 6.
“During college, I would spend time just fingerpicking John Hurt tunes at my aunt’s house with her next to me on a rocking chair,” Brooks said. “When she passed a few years ago, I made a demo of those tunes … which became the album.”
He spent time back in Mississippi during his college years, before spending time in Los Angeles and making his way back to Alaska, feeling a pang of culture shock each step of the way.
“When you’re a long haired hippie from Alaska, you really stand out in 1978 Mississippi … Then there is a huge culture shock again when you go from Mississippi State to Hollywood and are living about two blocks away from the boulevard,” Brooks said.
After spending time in Hollywood, Brooks made his way back to Alaska and at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 6 will be making his debut to Kenai for his show at Veronica’s Cafe at 604 Petersen Way.
For more information about Brooks, or to hear a selection of his songs, visit his website at www.akrick.com.
Reach Kat Sorensen at firstname.lastname@example.org