I first became aware of Mike Zito back in 2008 with the release of his “Today” album and my interest was cemented in 2009 with his performances on the stellar album “Pearl River“. Over the last dozen years, Mike has been a veritable titan of the contemporary blues as a singer, songwriter, guitar player, producer, and now a record label owner. The energy that drives his life translates well on his recordings and with the official release this week (July 16) of RESURRECTION, we get treated to an outpouring of all the music passion he has stored up during the pandemic.
The album begins with a delightful cover of the J.J. Cale tune, I’ll Make Love To You. that features some tasty slide guitar work. On the second cut, Don’t Bring Me Down, Mike encapsulates how many of us feel about a lot of the modern culture and media and it’s insidious attempts to stir controversy and control the debate. The guitar playing on the song is incredible and the lyrics “You’re lookin’ for a victim, someone you can hurt, I won’t take the bait, I got no time for those that hate” rings so true in an era when social media is overrun with people telling others how to live and what to think. “I just need MY space….I just wanna live MY life….Don’t bring me down”…I couldn’t have said it better.
On the fifth cut of the RESURRECTION recording, MIke provides a mesmerizing rendition of the Blind Faith/Eric Clapton song, In the Presence of the Lord. replete with world class guitar licks. Mike’s singing is so heart felt and this is simply the best cover of the song that I have ever heard! The next song, When It Rains, is as fine an example of the contemporary low down blues that I know of and my favorite song on the album. Mike also provides a jammin’ version of the Howlin’ Wolf/Willie Dixon classic Evil, that is some badass roadhouse blues. And the title cut that closes the album is a pretty love song about second chances.
The album is masterfully produced by David Z who has worked with Mike on seven previous recordings and also worked with Etta James and Prince during his heyday. The backing cast of musicians for the album include many that have worked with Mike for years: Matthew Johnson (drums); Doug Byrkit (bass guitar); Lewis Stephens (piano, organ); Zach Zito (acoustic guitar); Lisa Andersen (backing vocals); Eric Demmer (saxophone); and Fernando Castillo (trumpet).
Mike Zito is undoubtedly one of the stars of the contemporary blues and a musical force to be reckoned with in the coming years. He will be doing an album release concert at Antone’s in Austin Texas on August 5th and another in Los Angeles at the Mint on August 7th. And during the months of August and September he will be doing shows with Anthony Geraci, Tito Jackson, and Albert Castiglia. I am hoping to get tickets to the show at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, Connecticut on August 18th. I’ll let ya know how it goes if I am lucky enough to be there!!
Mike Zito – Resurrection (2021 Gulf Coast Records/Hillside Global)
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 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB