Note: The below story was written by Cassandra Mullinix. You can check out all the great stuff she has going down on her Facebook page, or, if you’re so inclined, you could follow her on Twitter. For those who might want to check out Brooks Long And The Mad Dog No Good this weekend as they open for Lucero at Flying Dog, there’s still one day left to enter our giveaway!
“Ain’t Never Had A Good Time” is the title of Brooks Long and The Mad Dog No Good’s latest single and maybe you have never had a good time until you’ve had the chance to groove into the night with all the soul sparkle of Motown and Stax wrapped up in this Baltimore-born band. Named 2012’s D.C./Baltimore’s “Best Emerging Artist” by The Deli Magazine, receiving regular airplay on the iconic Towson University radio station WTMD, and being known as a contributing fixture in the Baltimore artist community, Brooks Long and The Mad Dog No Good are very serious about delivering a good time.
Brooks Long was more than happy to do a little meet and greet with us recently in preparation for the upcoming Flying Dog Summer Sessions concert series show Saturday with Lucero. Long is often coined as “vintage” – and he certainly takes a lot from his idols – but his approach is just as fresh as Justin Bieber cologne. His love affair with music began when he was a child. Growing up on the west side of Baltimore, he became an audiophile of past music icons to avoid negative distractions on the streets around him.
“I don’t want to be vintage for the sake of being vintage,” Long explained. “I hope that whatever we are doing holds up on its own with whatever is going on now. To be honest, I hope it’s better than whatever is going on now. And I hope it’s better than anything that’s ever come out. The goal is to learn from the past and embrace it. Not let it box you in, but let it free you up.”
That statement sounds a little gutsy for an emerging artist, but Long has surrounded himself with accomplished and mostly local artists in his genre to create a strong foundation for his claim.
“More recently, I’m in this apprenticeship program with the Maryland traditional arts council and The Holmes Brothers,” he said. “Wendell Holmes is my master and I’m his apprentice. He’s been really encouraging and really educational about where I’m trying to go because where I’m trying to go, he’s already been.”
Long also spoke frequently of the impact that Baltimore-based band Old Man Brown has had on him since his early solo days in 2010.
“Old Man Brown, another great local band,” he noted. “They don’t play as much as they used to, but they were very active and they were very influential in me getting the idea that I could do the style that I am doing now and that people would actually come check it out. I saw them in Fells Point  doing some great straight-up soul music and I was like ‘You can do that and people will stay?'”
Adam Scott-Wakefield, of Old Man Brown, was actually featured on the single “Ain’t Never Had A Good Time.” He was joined by Jasmine Pope of J Pope and Funk Friday, and Jenny Leigh, an aspiring Nashville artist with roots in Frederick. Another big supporter of Long when he returned to Baltimore after college to start his music career was James Carter, the drummer for the late Teddy Pendergrass, who eventually started his own solo project.
“Local musicians, there is a lot going on,” Long said. “The really cool thing is that for the most part, everybody knows each other in the Baltimore music scene. There’s a lot of different things going on, but we are all struggling in the same way.”
He described himself as “first and foremost a song-writing guy,” and said he began writing music when he was 13.
“I love and I’m most interested in song structure, melody and lyrics,” he explained. “That’s my meat and potatoes right there.”
It took a while – 2010 to be exact – for him to start showcasing his original material, though it didn’t take long for him to want to “start electrifying and adding some rhythmic jump to these acoustic songs” he had been working on. That’s when he reached out to bass player Ian Trusheim, a long time friend, bandmate, and college alumni, to form Brooks Long and The Mad Dog No Good in 2011.
“Ian, who has been my right hand man for forever, was on board, and then we linked up with Dan Samuels,” Long said. “Dan, we knew from the band J Pope and The Funk Friday. Since that, we’ve been focusing more and more on the Brooks Long and The Mad Dog No Good.”
Together, the band has released an EP, “Let’s Make Out To Otis Redding,” and three singles, including a Christmas single and “Ain’t Never Had A Good Time.” Releasing singles and EPs instead of full albums might give the impression that Brooks Long and The Mad Dog No Good can’t deliver, but that’s not the case – the band actually has some progressive thinking behind their approach.
“I think the whole industry is coming to this realization,” he said. “This is how it use to be back in the day. Back in the day, every couple of months, you put out a new single and after a while, you had enough good material that you put it all together with a couple of new things and it was an album.”
The goal for Brooks Long and the band is to “work song by song and make sure we’ve got this one song really good, then put that out, and then eventually put everything out on an album called ‘Greatest Hits,’” the band’s leader said before adding, “You’re taking key songs from different projects and putting them together, so it’s got a cool vibe, but a diverse sound.”
In the band, Long showcases his addictively un-cumbersome, often humorous songwriting and deep appreciation of iconic R&B and soul artists to make Brooks Long and The Mad Dog No Good something special among other new wave soul revivalists.
“I guess I’ve learned a lot about the similarities and differences between Motown and Stax, The Beatles and Rolling Stones, Prince and Michael Jackson, Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry,” Long recalled about how he developed his song writing style. “I like when people are funny or at least have a little bit of a sense of humor.”
The comical aspects in life’s idiosyncrasies are something that is prevalent in Long’s songwriting and lends well to the have-a-good-time feel of the band. Citing some of his favorite artists who use humor, Long said “Randy Newman used humor to deal with serious big question subjects, and Prince used his humor to talk about sexual things. Then [Amy Winehouse] used it to laugh at herself, and that’s something that I picked up on. Cody Chesnutt – he’s someone that I try to champion as much as possible, also.”
Brooks Long told us that he is a Flying Dog Raging Bitch brew and George Forman-steak-grilling kind of guy. We suggest both with your paring of live music this Saturday. As his band’s latest single, “Ain’t Never Had A Good Time,” says, “Come on out/We’re having a party!”