Mike Zito w/ Jeremiah Johnson Band at The Loft - 5/14
Modern life moves fast. Rolling news. Rapid-fire tweets. A relentless barrage of (mis)information. Make Blues Not War is an album that demands you sign out, log off and turn yourself over instead to the old-fashioned pleasures of great music. "We hear about everything 24/7 now," says Mike Zito. "The news never stops and it's all become propaganda. But when you turn off the news and turn on some blues, the world is a beautiful place. I think music is the cure for all ailments. Always has been. Always will be." Released in 2016 on Ruf Records, Make Blues Not War is Mike's second release since leaving the mighty Royal Southern Brotherhood, his 13th overall – and perhaps his most energetic to date. "Make Blues Not War is a really fun album," he says, "chock-full of blues with lots of guitar playing. It's a very upbeat record with intense energy. Blues should make you feel good, and I think this record serves the purpose well." That atmosphere of positivity began at the album sessions, as Mike tracked alongside Grammy Award-winning producer (and co-writer) Tom Hambridge at the Sound Stage Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. "It was so much fun," he remembers. "It's a completely live album, where the musicians all set up and we just hit record and went for it. The energy was awesome and sometimes we'd just be laughing so hard because it was all so intense and exciting." As the momentum gathered, the songs flowed, with Mike painting in every shade of blue, from the frantic showboating of "Crazy Legs" to the slow-burn of "Red Bird" and the smoky slide of "Girl Back Home". "It was time," he says, "to get back to the blues and playing my guitar. Tom and I had spoken about making a kick ass blues-rock album for years." Likewise, when it comes to Mike's lyric sheet, these songs search for the silver lining in a troubled world. "I love writing songs and sharing deep feelings," he says, "but I also like having fun and cutting loose – that's what this album is all about. "Chip Off The Block" was written for my oldest son, Zach Zito, who is the featured guitarist on this track. It's his first introduction into the music world and he did a great job. I couldn't be more proud of him. He graduates college next spring and joins me on tour in summer – I can't wait." "Road Dog," adds Mike of the album's wistful slow-blues travelogue, "is really the most serious tune on the album. It's about the drama of life on the road. I know it can seem clichéd sometimes, but it's the life I lead. I miss my family, miss my wife, but this is what I do. I always leave." Mike has spent over two decades on the run. He grew up in a hard-grafting blue-collar home in St. Louis, but after an early job at a downtown guitar shop exposed him to heavyweights like B.B. King, the Allmans and Eric Clapton (then Joe Pass, Robert Johnson and Blind Willie Johnson), he set out as a working musician. By 1997, Mike had released debut album Blue Room, and seemed to be going places. "The first time you hear yourself," he recalls, "you think, 'Wow, that almost sounds like music!'" Then came the bumps in the road. By the post-millennium, alcoholism and drug abuse were threatening to rob Mike of his talent and livelihood: a period starkly addressed on the title track from 2011's acclaimed "Greyhound" album. "I just couldn't stop," he admits. "And a lot of the opportunities that I had back then – they kinda went away." Thankfully, the epiphany of meeting his beloved wife put Mike on a new path. In 2012, he found fresh inspiration in the A-list lineup of Royal Southern Brotherhood, then struck out with acclaimed solo albums Gone To Texas (2013) and Keep Coming Back (2015). "I have many more hurdles to jump and more goals to strive for," he says, "but I'm very pleased and thankful with how I'm developing as an artist." Now comes Make Blues Not War: another step up for this fascinating journeyman. "I'm so proud of this new album," says Mike. "It's about the enjoyment I get when I listen to Johnny Winter and Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Luther Allison. Their music makes me happy and reminds why I wanted to play guitar and play the blues. To be free and honest, loud and proud. I hope everyone enjoys listening to this album as much as I enjoyed making it…" Jeremiah Johnson Band Born and raised in St. Louis, Jeremiah Johnson is the voice of Mississippi River blues blending with the struggles of everyday life. He began learning guitar at age 6, drawing inspiration from his rich St. Louis blues heritage and legendary guitarists, like Alvin Lee, Eric Clapton and Hank Williams Sr. and Jr. With these influences, Johnson began building his musical foundation. After relocating to Houston, TX, in 1999, Johnson finished in first place for three consecutive years at the Houston Regional Blues Challenges, sponsored by the Houston Blues Society. Johnson returned to St. Louis in 2009, and merged Texas style with STL blues to create the unique sound you hear today. The 10 years Johnson lived and performed in Texas changed his musical style in ways you can still hear in his music today. In 2011, Johnson was the proud winner of the St. Louis Blues Society IBC Challenge and went on to the semifinals to represent St. Louis in Memphis, TN. One year later, Sirius XM's B.B. King's Bluesville picked up the Jeremiah Johnson Band, where they can be heard nationwide, and they have been playing his music ever since. You can also hear Jeremiah Johnson on Touch Tunes Jukeboxes in bars/clubs across the US and on radio stations around the world. In September 2014, Johnson filmed his docu-concert, Ride the Blues, directed by Australian Producer/Director Gary Glenn, at the historic Capitol Theater in downtown Burlington, IA. The film is live music video about Johnson's rise to prominence, featuring intimate interview segments, still photography, guitar solos and stunning vocals. Donations from concert attendees were generously given to the theater and to the National Blues Museum, connecting Johnson's roles of musician and music advocate. 2014 Johnson records Grind, produced by Devon Allman, features Grammy award winner Yonrico Scott on drums. Grind has been featured on SiriusXM's B.B. King's Bluesville, and on the international radio show "Confessing the Blues", broadcasting on 50 stations in 10 countries worldwide. Grind reached the #8 slot on the Billboard Blues Charts the week of November 7th, 2015. Johnson follows the success of Grind with a self produced release, Blues Heart Attack, released worldwide on July 22, 2016. This unique record is a blend of Johnson's entire musical career. "It's a combination of our earlier works, and then Grind," he explained. "There's horns and keyboard reminiscent of Brand Spankn' Blues, but also some heavy guitar driven tracks. It's the evolution of everything in a Blues Heart Attack." Special guest performers include Tom 'Papa' Ray on harmonica, and Nathan Hershey on keys. Blues Heart Attack reached #5 on the Billboard Blues Charts following its release in 2016. March of 2018, Mike Zito will be producing Jeremiah Johnson's new CD release. The band is headed to Texas to MARZ Studio with more than two handfuls of killer new original rockin blues tunes and Mike Zito producing! Mike is currently nominated for Two BMA Awards! Mike has produced albums for Samantha Fish, Laurence Jones, Albert Castiglia and others. He tours extensively in the USA, Canada and Europe. He has been honored with multiple Blues Music Awards over the past 10 years. UPDATE 12/22/2018: Ruf Records recording artist Jeremiah Johnson is set to have the biggest year of his career in 2019. After signing a record deal with Ruf Records in March of 2018, Jeremiah immediately went to Texas to record his debut Ruf Records release, Straitjacket, with BMA award winning Mike Zito producing. Straitjacket debuted #1 on iTunes New Blues Releases and #6 on Billboard Blues Album Chart and has been in the top of the Roots Music Report ever since. With several European tours already scheduled for 2019, Jeremiah is poised to bring his passionate songwriting, powerful blues voice and commanding guitar work to a world-wide audience in 2019 and beyond. Jeremiah Johnson is an endorsed guitarist for Delaney Guitars and Magnatone Amplifiers.
Venue: City Winery
155 Varick St
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