The Bands - 2015
Mike Zito & The Wheel
BEAUMONT, TX – On “The Road Never Ends,” the second track of Mike Zito’s new June 11 CD, Gone to Texas, he cranks things into the stratosphere with a sonic blast of electric slide guitar and blistering vocals, accompanied on vocals and harmonica by the great Delbert McClinton. Also along for the ride on his label debut solo CD for Ruf Records are special guests Sonny Landreth on guitar, Susan Cowsill on vocals and Lewis Stephens (Delbert McClinton, Freddie King) on keyboards. Zito expertly matches them with his core band, The Wheel: Jimmy Carpenter – sax and guitars; Rob Lee – drums; and Scot Sutherland – bass. The result effectively announces one of the most exciting and highly-anticipated new releases of the year.
Recorded at Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana, Gone to Texas was produced by the Beaumont, Texas-based Mike Zito and engineered by long-time New Orleans notable David Ferrell, giving the album’s mix a decided Crescent City bent, while embracing Zito’s Texas blues and roots influences. “Rainbow Bridge,” aided and abetted by some killer Sonny Landreth guitar work and soulful Susan Cowsill vocals, sounds like a long-lost Little Feat song. The lead-off title track is an autobiographical tale of redemption and catharsis for Zito, who literally lived the tale, with a bit of an Allman Brothers musical twinge. “Subtraction Blues” deals with a man whose dealings with his woman “just don’t add up,” spiced with a funky Second Line feel. “Take It Easy,” one of the two non-original tracks on the CD, is Zito’s soothing take on the Delbert McClinton-penned ballad. The other cover is Mike’s unique version of Beaumont’s own Blind Willie Johnson’s “Let Your Love Shine on Me.” And on “Texas Flyer,” he salutes the legendary “Texas Cannonball” himself – Freddie King – in the best way possible: with a flurry of stinging blues guitar leads that are still hanging somewhere over the Lone Star State.
Make no mistake about it, Gone to Texas IS a very special – and personal – album for Mike Zito.
“Texas saved my life. Sounds a bit dramatic, but absolutely true,” says Zito. “Historically, Texas has been the saving grace of many desperate men. In the early 1800s, men who had large debts or committed crimes would run off to Texas to hide from the colonies and their creditors. This was called ‘Gone to Texas.’ New Spain (Mexico at that time, including Mexican Texas) took in all the runaways and vagabonds it could hold. Many of these men found a new life in what would be Texas, returned for their families, paid their debts off, only to fight and die for the freedom of Texas from Spanish rule.
“Texas was my last stand as well. I ended up there after running away from all of my problems and mostly myself. I left on the Greyhound bus and got off in Texas, leaving my family behind. My drug addiction is no secret and Texas is where I confronted my problems and made a change that has saved my life. I met a woman who lived in Texas years before and was spiritually drawn to her. She has stood by my side though it all and has given me the love and support I needed to stand on my own two feet. South East Texas has taken me in and given me a new life. This is a much different place than the south side of Saint Louis where I grew up. They all take it for granted around here, but it is a very unique place in the world.”
For Zito, the band he put together for the Gone to Texas sessions – The Wheel – is also special to him. “These musicians were hand-picked over the years,” he states. “These are some of my favorite musicians on planet earth; my dream band. We all have one thing in common: make the music feel good! It is no surprise that this most important album to me is being released on Ruf Records. I have wanted to be a Ruf recording artist since 1998. Thomas Ruf and I have tried many times to get together over the years but the Universe wasn’t ready for us until now!”
Since 2012, Mike Zito has also been a founding member of his OTHER band, Royal Southern Brotherhood, along with Cyril Neville, Devon Allman, Charlie Wooton and Yonrico Scott; and while he continues to record and tour with that band of brothers, he’ll also be doing shows with The Wheel throughout the rest of the year in support of his solo album. He’s managed by Reuben Williams of The Thunderbird Management Group (985-798-5665; firstname.lastname@example.org); and is booked by Piedmont Talent (www.piedmonttalent.com).
Mike Zito has been a rising star in the blues/roots world for the past several years as a performer, songwriter and producer. In 2010, the title-track for his Pearl River album, which he co-wrote with Cyril Neville, won the Blues Music Award as “Song of Year;” and he also produced last year’s BMA winner for “Best New Artist Debut Album” by labelmate Samantha Fish. His last solo CD, Greyhound, was nominated for “Rock Blues Album;” and he’s currently nominated as a member of Royal Southern Brotherhood in the same category for that band’s eponymous debut CD at the upcoming Blues Music Awards in May.
It Takes One to Know One Blues and soul singer Janiva Magness was no stranger to trouble and hard times growing up, and at her best, she pours that lifetime of emotion into her passionate phrasing and vocal delivery. Born in Detroit, Magness grew up with her father's blues and country record collection, as well as the city's wonderfully Motown pop-soul sound, all of which shaped her style and approach as a musician. She lost both of her parents to suicide while in her early teens, and she ended up living on the streets, channeled through endless foster homes, before becoming pregnant at the age of 17 and being forced to give up the child for adoption. Her personal and creative redemption came at an Otis Rush show in Minneapolis. Discouraged, stressed, and definitely underage, Magness snuck into the club and was transformed by Rush's performance. That was the moment, Magness maintains, that her vision of herself as a singer and musician began to take shape. She started out as a background singer, finally ending up in Phoenix in the early '80s, where she formed the Mojomatics, a popular local band. Magness next relocated to Los Angeles in 1986. A debut cassette, More Than Live, appeared in the mid-'90s, with her first CD, It Takes One to Know One, appearing in 1996, followed by three more independent releases. Magness signed with NorthernBlues Music and Bury Him at the Crossroads was issued by the label in 2004, with Do I Move You? following two years later in 2006. Magness began to draw a lot of critical and fan attention, particularly in the blues community, and her career was in full swing, garnering an armful of blues awards. She signed with Alligator Records in 2008, which issued What Love Will Do that same year, following it with The Devil Is an Angel Too in 2010 and Stronger for It in 2012. Original, which featured a dozen original Magness songs, appeared from her own Fat Head Records imprint in 2014.
Artist Biography by Steve Leggett
Mark "Muleman" Massey blues band featuring Billy Earheart
**Mark "The Muleman" Massey blues band. This Mississippi band is tearing up the south with their brand of Hill Country, and soulful blues, featuring Mark "The Muleman" Massey on vocals and guitar, and Grammy & Emmy award winner Billy Earheart on piano and organ, with Dave Bennett bass and Walter Pope drums, from the Memphis Blues Society and 40 yrs veterans of the music scene.
Mark learned the hard way how to play blues...in Parchman farm prison. Jr. Kimbrough's son, David, showed him how, and when he got out of Parchman, 20 years ago, bluesman Big Jack Johnson became his mentor and dear friend, and gave Mark the nickname" The Muleman".
Mark and band have played with BB king at his homecoming in Indianola, the Howling Wolf festival in West Point, Juke Joint fest Clarksdale, The Chicago Blues Fest, Market street fest in Columbus, Ms.. Bentonia blues fest , and featured on the new web blues show Moonshine & Mojo Hands (coming fall of 2013..and many more live appearances all over the south.... Muleman also won 2 different times for the IBC blues challenge in Indianola, Ms and Rosedale,Ms.
Mark is the youngest white bluesman on a prestigious Mississippi Blues trail marker (Parchman prison band).. and juke joints and clubs and parties all over Mississippi, and the south have proven that this smoking, real deal band is ready
to take it to another level...The latest CD, co-produced by Memphis
legend Don Nix (Going Down, Stax, Markeys) is almost finished and features the band with Bobby Rush, Willie Clayton, Eric Gales, Don Nix and Mark"s killer vocals, and Billy's keys gives it a real soulful STAX feel...
Keyboardist Billy Earheart has worked with Al Green, Eddie Hinton, Memphis Slim, Rufus Thomas, Hank Williams Jr, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, and many other artists and recorded on over 200 albums over his 40 yr career.
It is almost unfair to simply call Jordan Thomas a singer-songwriter. From the moment he steps on stage, it becomes clear that Thomas is first and foremost both a student and purveyor of American roots music. Although certainly influenced by the big, horn-driven soul sounds of Stax Records, Atlantic Records, or Muscle Shoals, Thomas couples his brand of southern soul with the understated simplicity of an acoustic guitar. His playing is raw and fierce yet at times refined and subdued – perfectly paired with a full, emotion-soaked voice and an obvious passion for lyricism. With every song, Thomas pours out his heart and soul, losing himself in the song and inviting the listener to do the same.
As his hands wander across well-worn acoustic guitar strings, it's not hard to imagine the musical upbringing he had: winters spent blowing the dust off old records and setting the needle to forgotten grooves, or summers spent almost entirely with an acoustic guitar, serenading cows from atop a fence in rural Missouri. Listen carefully, and you'll hear a musical vocabulary rooted in those humble, honest sounds: pre-war fingerstyle blues, early gospel, even traces of traditional country and down-home bluegrass. Thomas' delivery is full of fire and an energy all his own, undoubtedly harnessed in his years fronting the regionally popular electric blues band, The Mojo Roots. Now equipped with a singing acoustic guitar, a shining resonator, and a throaty harmonica, Jordan Thomas is carving his own new path through the classic sounds of American roots music.
American Blues Scene
Sister Lucille is a four piece Blues and Roots band hailing from southwest missouri. With most of their inspiration coming from Beale Street, This band is well versed in the art of blues and entertainment. After 20 years of on stage experience together, Kimberly Dill's soulful, gut wrenching vocals and Jamie Holdren's heartfelt, blistering guitar solo's are sure to turn a lot of heads. The thunderous rhythm section consists of Terry Simmons on the Fender Jazz bass and Kevin Lyons on the drums. Terry has played with many successful bands over his career dominating the central lake areas of Missouri. Kevin Lyons is a versatile drummer with experience in many different styles of music. With a BA in music performance from the University of Buffalo Kevin has played with such artists as Ray Stevens, Boxcar Willie, Bobby Vinton and the Lawernce Welk show just to name a few. The combination of these musicians creates an energy that is sure to have everyone on their feet!