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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ruf Records artist: Mike Zito - Make Blues Not War - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Make Blues Not War, from Mike Zito and it's crazy good! Opening with blues rocker, Highway Mama, this track gives you that take no prisoners attitude with a driving beat courtesy of Tom Hambridge who absolutely blows it up on drums and Tommy MacDonald on bass, Mike Zito on lead vocal and guitar, Rob McNelley on guitar and Water Trout on guitar. Trout plays some really hot riffs and Zito absolutely scorches the strings. Excellent opener. Wasted Time is up next with a great lumbering Texas lope, Zito lays down stuff that would make SRV proud, with intensity and feel. Very nice! Redbird is a heavy footed, rocker with strong vocals. Solid bass lines from MacDonald positively drive this bus and it's rolling hard. Talk about intensity, Crazy Legs has it x 10. This track is on fire and running hard with excellent drum work by Hambridge and super guitar tone. Zito really turns on the heat on this one literally setting the thing on fire. Wow! Slowing it way down, title track, Make Blues Not War has the characteristics of delta blues and early electric Muddy Waters. Jason Ricci is down on this track and he and Zito really dig in on this one with harp and slide fanning the flames. Very nice. On The Road has some funk with really sweet organ work from Kevin McKendree and stirring some of the funkiest guitar riffs that I've heard since David Spinozza hit "Right Place Wrong Time". Sure to be an instant favorite on the release is Bad News Is Coming, a slow, low down blues with excellent guitar phrasing and hard luck soulful vocals. Excellent!! Detroit style rocker, One More Train, has a really nice feel with excellent vocals, super slide work from Ricci and great piano work from McKendree making it my pick for radio track that should hit hard. Girl Back Home is a quiet ballad with rich slide work making it a standout on feel alone. Chip Off The Old Block features Mike's son, Zach on guitar over a basic 12 bar setup. Zach shows his stuff which is quite cool and with McKendree on piano and Mike on vocal and guitar, a real solid track. Ballad, Road Dog is another sure radio track with a super melody and strong construction. McKendree's organ, Hambridge's tight drum work and Zito's vocals and somber guitar work, ala BB King give this track excellent grip. Love it! Wrapping the release is Route 90, a Chuck Berry style track featuring an excellent piano solo by McKendree over a great bass line by MacDonald. Zito digs in at the bottom of the fretboard and with his own super vocals and southern style make this track a great closer. I don't think I'm going out on a limb very far saying that this will be one of the top 10 releases I'll hear this year and moving Zito to the top of the list of bands I hope to see this year. Excellent!!

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