(ST. LOUIS, MO) – Acclaimed guitarist-vocalist Mike Zito kicks off his Summer-long “First Class Life” Tour (in support of his new Ruf Records album of the same name), in his longtime hometown of St. Louis, with a Record Release Concert at Atomic Cowboy Pavillion, 4140 Manchester Ave., Friday, May 11. Showtime: 8:00pm Tickets: $17. Info: (314) 775-0775 or visit the club website. Performing with Zito is The Jeremiah Johnson Band.
Both Zito – who resided in St. Louis for 32 years – and Johnson, who produced Zito’s new album, are from the city famously known as the Gateway To The West. “A double shot of St. Louis musical heritage,” is how Ruf Records’ founder, Thomas Ruf, refers to this unique double-billing of Zito and Johnson. For complete Mike Zito “First Class Life” Tour Itinerary, please see below.
There may not be a more honest bluesman than Mike Zito, whose fifteenth album First Class Life will be released May 11 on Ruf Records. The rocking-yet-poignant title track explores his journey from addiction to sobriety and then musical recognition: Zito is a two-time 2017 Blues Music Award nominee. “Second chance at a first-class life,” he sings, recalling the hard times. The Texas-based musician smiles and continues, “I grew up poor in St. Louis, and now I’m traveling the world to sing my songs.” Zito’s star has been on the rise of late, both solo and as a member of the Royal Southern Brotherhood, with band-mates Cyril Neville, Devon Allman, Charlie Wooton and Yonrico Scott. Spring of 2018 saw Zito team with noted guitar master (and Ruf Records label-mate) Bernard Allison, on the “Blues Caravan” Tour that performed in Germany, England, Poland, The Netherlands and Belgium.
As is fitting for a man with the word “Blues” tattooed across his picking hand, First Class Life focuses squarely on blues with heart and chops to spare, not to mention wit and openness. The punchy “Time For A Change” conjures the tension in the world today while the exquisite Memphis-style song, “The World We Live In,” recalls BB King in its world-weariness. The electrified blues bounce of “Dying Day” finds Zito swearing lifelong allegiance to his wife. “Old Black Graveyard” sets the scene of a bluesman’s final resting place and its disrepair, along with some possible supernatural influences, with Zito’s masterful slide guitar flourishes driving it home.
The record’s darker moments are offset by cuts like “Mama Don’t Like No Wah Wah,” the funky crash-bang-wallop gem written with the aforementioned Allison about the late blues legend, Koko Taylor. “Bernard told me about his first gig as a guitarist for Taylor,” laughs Mike. “Koko didn’t like any effects on the guitar, she wanted it to sound natural. When Bernard made an attempt to use an effect on his guitar after playing with her for months, he got caught. ‘Mama don’t like no wah wah’ is what he was told. That’s a song to me!” The two guitar slingers trade off, trying to one up each other atop a funky blues groove, including Allison pulling out his forbidden wah wah pedal. The tongue-in-cheek “Back Problems” is a showcase for Zito’s wit as a songwriter.
In addition to media acclaim and the Blues Music Awards recognition, Zito has earned accolades from his fellow artists. Anders Osborne says, “I love Mike Zito! He’s got that rare kinda voice that resonates in your soul. All his hardships, life experiences and kind heart oozes out of every note his sings. His guitar playing dances delicately between a contemporary blues virtuoso and an old fashion soul man. Mike continues to impress me with his straightforward and honest songwriting. His joy and grace shine through every record he makes. ”
Mike Zito “First Class Life‘ Spring-Summer 2018 Tour Itinerary
May 11 (Fri.) ATOMIC COWBOY PAVILLION St. Louis, MO
May 12 (Sat.) BRAUER HOUSE Lombard, IL
May 13 (Sun.) DRY RIDERS MC CLUB HOUSE Day Heights, OH
May 16 (Wed.) NATALIE’S Worthington, OH
May 17 (Thur.) TRALF MUSIC HALL Buffalo, NY
May 18 (Fri.) MOONDOGS Pittsburgh, PA
May 19 (Sat.) CHESAPEAKE BAY BLUES FEST Annapolis, MD
June 2 (Sat.) ROCK ‘N’ BOWL New Orleans, LA
June 7 (Thur.) BIG BEAT DALLAS Irving, TX
June 8 (Fri.) BIG BEAT DALLAS Irving, TX
June 9 (Sat.) REDNECK COUNTRY CLUB* Stafford, TX
June 21 (Thur.) BLUE ROOSTER Sarasota, FL
June 22 (Fri.) FUNKY BISCUIT** Boca Raton, FL
Aug. 3 (Fri.) DOSEY DOE The Woodlands, TX
Aug. 25 (Sat.) BLUES ON THE BAY Ellison Bay, WI
Aug. 30 (Thur.) PRIVATE EVENT Orlando, FL
Aug. 31 (Fri.) FUNKY BISCUIT*** Boca Raton, FL
*with Delbert McClinton **with Albert Castiglia ***with Anders Osborne