Mike Zito was born and raised in south St. Louis. By reputation, it is a tough place to grow up…a place where the blues aren’t just notes floating in the air or lyrics in a song. Mike chose to return to his roots for his latest recording, Blues for the Southside. Literally surrounded by family and friends from his high school years, Mike and his very talented band cranked out live versions of 14 of the songs from his 25 year career plus a new instrumental, the title cut, that is an instant classic.
Mike now lives in Texas. And during the first year of the pandemic, one of the joys I can recall was watching Mike playing live on Facebook from a small room (or perhaps the garage) of his home. His band was scrunched in with him and they are having a blast. Mike told stories, jokes, and casually played songs and requests from the internet audience. It was magical. That same spirit is captured on the new recording. And watching his entertaining banter and incredible musical talent makes it easy to understand why the recording label that he and Guy Hale own, Gulf Coast Records, has so quickly attracted a large group of very talented fellow artists since its inception in 2018.
The double album recording features Doug Byrkit (vocals/ bass), Matthew Johnson (vocals/drums), Lewis Stephens (piano/organ), with special guest appearances by Gulf Coast Record artists Tony Campanella (guitars), Dave Kalz (guitars as well as a friend from the old neighborhood) and an impromptu performance by guitar maestro Eric Gales. Eric literally showed up backstage, picked up a guitar, and then comes out and launches into an epic jam with the band of the Jimi Hendrix tune, Voodoo Chile.
On the album, Mike also does a fantastic cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Texas Flood. He and Dave Kalz share the blues magic on The Road Never Ends. The recording also includes live versions of some my favorite Zito tunes including First Class Life, Mississippi Nights, and Make Blues Not War. And as I stated earlier, the instrumental Blues for the Southside is absolutely beautiful. To top it all off, the album closes with a rousing version of a tune written by another guy from St. Louis you might know, Chuck Berry. Mike’s cover of Johnny B. Goode should bring a smile to your face.
If you need a musical “pick me up” on any given day from now to forever, purchase and download a copy of this memorable live recording. It will have you dancin’ around your chair and will remind you of just why you love the roadhouse blues…and Mike Zito!
Mike Zito – BLUES FOR THE SOUTHSIDE (Gulf Coast Records 2022) (Available February 18th)
#blues #roadhouse blues
Ben Vee started out spinning songs on terrestrial radio and at nightclubs back in the 1970’s in his home state of Louisiana. After a career in the construction business, he returned to DJing in 2011. He now hosts two shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and writes about the blues at http://www.benveeblues.com from his home in Connecticut. He also has a personal 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB