Make Blues Not War Mike Zito
- 1Highway Mama05:20
- 2Wasted Time03:24
- 3Red Bird07:00
- 4Crazy Legs03:52
- 5Make Blues Not War04:10
- 6On The Road03:45
- 7Bad News Is Coming06:29
- 8One More Train To Ride03:50
- 9Girl Back Home03:01
- 10Chip Off The Old Block03:31
- 11Road Dog05:26
- 12Route 9003:50
Info for Make Blues Not War
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…”
Singer, guitarist and songwriter Mike Zito grew up in St. Louis, immersed in the gritty and soulful sounds of the city’s south side that would provide the groundwork for his future in music. He began singing and performing at the age of five, received his first guitar not long afterward, and music has been his guiding force ever since. Working at a local guitar shop after high school, he encountered many of the legends of the local music scene. “Everyone from Chuck Berry to [bluesman] Bennie Smith came in that store,” Zito says of his experience. “I soaked up the sounds of that store, and began building my own style.”
Zito’s journey took off in earnest at the age of 19, when he began making a name for himself as a unique new voice on the highly competitive St. Louis music scene. His incessant touring schedule found him crisscrossing the country playing everywhere from funky roadhouses to major festival stages to an international tour for the USO, and performing in front of enthusiastic crowds six nights a week around St. Louis when not on the road. During this period of intense music making Zito began to hone and polish his art, developing a breathtaking level of virtuosity and a unique expressive voice with both his singing and guitar playing, while at the same time stripping away the non-essential elements and cutting to the core of what moved a live audience.
But throwing himself headfirst into the pursuit of his art had a toll, and Zito paid it. The non-stop lifestyle led to a dark and dangerous period during which Zito came close to drinking and drugging away all that he’d worked so hard to establish. It took time, but thankfully, with the help and intervention of friends and supporters in the music business, loved ones, and the woman who would become his wife, Zito regained his faith in himself and his music, cleaned up his act, and settled down in Southeast Texas to begin anew.
With a clean slate, a fresh outlook, and a new dedication to his music, Zito now also had a message of positivity and redemption that has informed his new music with a deeper meaning and taken it to an entirely new level. Zito is that rare new artist who completely in synch with the contemporary music scene, while at the same time having a lifetime’s worth of experience to draw from that informs his music with soul, depth, and lasting appeal that grows with repeated listening.
" class="ng-binding ng-scope">Mike Zito & The Wheel
This album contains no booklet.