Mike Zito

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..."

Extras

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