Q&A with veteran musician Bruce Brookshire (Doc Holliday) - returning to his Southern Rock and Blues roots

"Music can be such a driving force for good. Because it plays on a person's emotions, it can also make evil attractive. It's a decision we all make every day in so many little and big ways. Are we on the side of good for the world, or are we angry and on the side of destruction? Young people many times don't understand the power of the music they listen to."

Bruce Brookshire: Southern. Rock. Gospel.

Bruce Brookshire is well-known as songwriter/ singer/ guitarist for Doc Holliday for over 30 years and 13 albums is known to Southern Rock fans everywhere. His first Christian music release "The Damascus Road", in 2000, is a collection of acoustic, quiet music. Bruce's brand new album “southern.rock.gospel.” (2019) finds Bruce returning to his Southern Rock and Blues roots, in a fiery mix of electric and uptempo music, sure to please long-time and new fans alike. Bruce Brookshire and his brother Bob started a blues band called Roundhouse. A deal was then reached with A&M, who felt a new name was needed that matched the band’s hard-driving Southern sound.

Again, the group agreed completely and the name “Doc Holliday” was chosen overwhelmingly by the listeners of a special call-in radio show which had been organized in the band’s home town. Doc Holliday is from Georgia where Southern rock began with the legendary Allman Brothers Band. In the early days, the band played close to 200 shows a year with Black Sabbath, Molly Hatchet, Charlie Daniels, Outlaws, Gregg Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Blackfoot, April Wine, Pat Travers, Dixie Dregs, Johnny Van Zant, Point Blank and more. The band played shows with Blackfoot, U.F.O., Quiet Riot, Nazareth, Foghat, Dr. Hook, and others.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Southern Rock Blues music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Music has taken me all over the world! London, Paris, Helsinki, Frankfurt, New York, California...so many shows. People that know Blues understand what it does in your life. If you don't understand Blues, there is a BIG part of humanity that you know nothing about. Music connects people in ways that nothing else can.

How do you describe "Southern. Rock. Gospel" songbook and sound? Where does your creative drive come from?

I want to take traditional "church" type songs and bring them to a wider audience. You don't have to listen to church music all the time to follow Jesus. The drive is in song construction. I really enjoy taking an idea and making it into a song. It seems like the ones that connect with people the most are the ones that are the easiest to write. I'm just glad that anyone wants to hear the tracks I do after all this time!

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

On this album, the instrumental "Un Dios Amororso" came in a furious 4-hour inspiration. I heard it in my head and played it into the recorder. I think I finished it at 6:30 AM, so moments of inspiration, followed by hours of recording!

"That people would again appreciate the time it takes to learn to play an instrument and clap when a performance is over. No one claps anymore, they just don't care about musicians. They clap for raps. That is strange to me." (Photo: Bruce Brookshire on stage, 2019)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

When I hear a song, it doesn't have a date on it. Even if it's Roy Orbision or Everly Brothers, I hear it like it is being played and sung right at the time I hear it. One side of my brain knows it is an older track, but I get right inside the performance with the artist. If I hear Howlin' Wolf or older Peter Green, it sounds like they are playing right now.

I really dislike people talking over a beat and calling it a "song". For example, I don't think Black Eyes Peas have ever done a "song". It's just catch-phrases and junk. I'm sad that whole generations buy it and think it is "good" (whatever that is). I don't understand "rap" music or it's appeal. I don't want to.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

That people would again appreciate the time it takes to learn to play an instrument and clap when a performance is over. No one claps anymore, they just don't care about musicians. They clap for raps. That is strange to me.

Do you consider the Gospel a specific music genre and artistic movement or do you think it’s a state of mind?

Gospel music is music that talks about the presence of God and His Son Jesus-what they mean to the singer, and what they have done in a singer's life. There are other types of spiritual music from all of the world's religions, but Gospel is Christian. It is important to remember that it should not put another religion down or offend anyone. We don't have to tear down Muhammed to lift up Jesus. Gospel is a mixture of American black blues and church.

"Music has taken me all over the world! London, Paris, Helsinki, Frankfurt, New York, California...so many shows. People that know Blues understand what it does in your life. If you don't understand Blues, there is a BIG part of humanity that you know nothing about. Music connects people in ways that nothing else can." (Photo: Bruce Brookshire)

What is the impact of music to the socio-cultural implications? What touched (emotionally) you from the power of music?

Music can be such a driving force for good. Because it plays on a person's emotions, it can also make evil attractive. It's a decision we all make every day in so many little and big ways. Are we on the side of good for the world, or are we angry and on the side of destruction? Young people many times don't understand the power of the music they listen to. Hearing 80,000 people in a stadium shouting "I'm on a Highway To Hell" makes me wonder if they are really hearing what they are saying.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your paths in music circuits?

The band that decided my career path for me, always sang about love. "All You Need Is Love", "Give Peace A Chance" "Give Me Love". I miss the voice and the passion of John Lennon and George Harrison every day. Those were amazing men. I'm glad their songs are still being played, but not enough regular people care about anyone else these days. It's "my money" and "my party". They don't see the poverty and suffering right in front of them. Or they decide to ignore it. It's more important to have a flashy car than to feed someone who is homeless. The blues is "sharing music". People share their troubles, their needs, their sorrows, their happiness, their love. I like that in music.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

The obvious choice for me is to go back to AD 30 in Galilee and hear the Sermon on the Mount from Jesus. I would love to go to the Cavern Club in Liverpool in 1962, and to Chicago in the 60's to be in a club with Junior Wells playing harmonica and singing. Oh, and to the first sessions with Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood and John McVie and Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer in London. It would be a long day!

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