South Louisiana songwriter Jesse Brooks comes to Nick's

By STAFF REPORTS,

Hammond singer-songwriter Jesse Brooks will perform Friday at Nick's Ice House as he continues to establish a name in the region.

Brooks has recently started performing again after a five-year break and is back on the scene with a growing catalog. The band, which he calls The Living Past, is a collection of musicians mostly from Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana.

“I picked the name ‘The Living Past’ after William Faulkner’s famous quote in Requiem for a Nun,” Brooks said. “In telling a story, I’m interested in the concept of time and how the past never really does away.”

Prior to the hiatus, Brooks was most recently active in a rock band named Hazlehurst that regularly played in the New Orleans area. He stepped away from writing music to launch a career in local journalism.

This is his first time performing in Hattiesburg.

“There’s a little more stability in my schedules now and I am glad to get back to being at my most creative self,” Brooks said. “Going back on the circuit is all about shaking off the rust and trying to figure out where to go next.”

Brooks said that he does not have a new record he’s promoting at the moment but that he hopes to start work on one soon. As for the material, he has years worth of unrecorded songs that’s been sharing at recent live shows.”

“I’m more of a storyteller now,” Brooks said. “There may be pieces of me in the new stuff but the narratives are from characters I create or people from the past. Looking back is how I address issues of today.”

Brooks also said that he draws inspiration from stories about where he lives.

“I live in Tangipahoa Parish which is about right under an hour north of New Orleans. It’s a unique place in that area of the state gets overlooked. It’s not a part of Cajun country. It’s not North Louisiana. It’s sandwiched in between the Big Easy and the Mississippi Delta, but also with interstate access to the Gulf Coast. So all of that together makes the region its own thing,” Brooks said.

For Brooks, the goal is to make music as eclectic as the land it stands on. He said that he loves the State of Louisiana and grew up with the sounds of Dr. John around Mardi Gras as a child from an old vinyl record his parents played every year during carnival season. He also remembers hearing stories about Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil to play guitar from the old folks around the state line.

“There were some old blues guys in the area that would talk about that,” Brooks said. “My dad loved the story. He would always tell it to me while driving through Mississippi. It would fascinate and scare the hell out of me.”

He also grew up equally listing to Motown hits and Nirvana-like post-grunge bands on local radio.

Even though Brooks hasn’t released a solo record since his 2011 self-release, his music is found on Bandcamp, Soundcloud and on videos posted on all of the major forms of social media. 

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