Back to events

Mike Zito

16th October 2024

19:00 - View all performance times

The 1865 , Brunswick Square

Information: 023 8022 2605

Mike Zito

Mike ZitoMike Zito has walked many roads. At 44, his backstory is a travelogue that starts in Missouri and finds salvation in Texas, pinballs from solo career to supergroup (and back), dices with both death and glory. And yet, wherever his career leads him, Mike always returns to his founding values of honest, original songs, drawn from the emotional depths, twisting the great American genres into bold new shapes. "Keep Coming Back is all in the title," explains the songwriter of his latest release on Ruf Records. "I love the blues, I love rock 'n' roll and I love country music. It's what I do and who I am."Perhaps there were some sceptics who questioned Mike's amicable departure from the Royal Southern Brotherhood last year, after two acclaimed albums that took the A-list outfit to the top of the world. Released in 2015, Keep Coming Back is both the explanation and vindication for that decision. "This album brings me back to what it's all about," says Mike. "Having fun and playing music you love and believe in. It's all about the song."Tracked in June at Dockside Studios, Louisiana, the album reunites Mike with The Wheel lineup of Jimmy Carpenter (saxophone/vocals), Scot Sutherland (bass), Rob Lee (drums) and Lewis Stephens (keys), with producer Trina Shoemaker and engineer David Farrell bottling the chemistry. "Trina and I were simpatico in our ideas of what this album would sound and feel like," recalls Mike, "and she nailed it. This album is raw when it needs to be, subtle, sincere and grooving all the way through. My band are in top form. The musicians gave their all to the songs and brought out the best in me."And like Mike says, it's all about the songs. Endlessly prolific, Keep Coming Back is home to seven new Zito-penned originals, alongside three co-writes with Anders Osborne (plus stellar covers of CCR's Bootleg and Bob Seger's Get Out Of Denver). "I love to tell stories," says the bandleader, "and these songs are stories from my heart, my crazy mind and my life. With the help of Anders, I think I've got the best collections of songs I've written yet."You won't dispute that, with Keep Coming Back running the gamut of moods and themes. The album tears out of the blocks with the title track's squall of slide and brass, and keeps the punches coming with rocking cuts like Chin Up, the slice-of-life portrait of street-level America that is Girl From Liberty, and Nothin' But The Truth's hot-riffing ultimatum to a cheating girlfriend ("You got me hanging around like a noose on a tree").Such high-octane songs only make the more reflective moments more powerful. Lonely Heart pairs lilting chords to a reflective vocal, while Early In The Morning is chiming, autumnal and defiant ("Nothing's gonna bring me down, that's how I start my day"). And it's hard to imagine a more poignant cri de coeur than Mike's back-and-forth with Anders on I Was Drunk: "I tried to pull myself away from the junk. My little girl cried. And I was drunk"It's a typical slice of brutal honesty from a man who has always told it straight. Ask Mike for his backstory and he'll give you warts and all. In his own words, the bandleader "grew up poor in St. Louis", in a blue-collar family whose father grafted 40-hour weeks at the local brewery. Ten years working at a downtown guitar shop, and the tutelage of an older employee, exposed him to titans like B.B. King, the Allmans and Eric Clapton (and from there, Joe Pass, Robert Johnson and Blind Willie Johnson), and though he was fired from early cover bands for refusing to mimic the solos, by 1997, he had released debut album Blue Room. "The first time you hear yourself," recalls Mike, "you think, 'Wow, that almost sounds like music!'"Then came the bumps in the road. By the post-millennium, creeping 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 (and alluded to on new track Get Busy Living). Thankfully, the epiphany of meeting his beloved wife changed Mike's road, and in 2012, his career found new impetus as he juggled the genre-blurring brilliance of Royal Southern Brotherhood with acclaimed solo albums like 2013's Gone To Texas. "It's all working out," he beams, "and I couldn't be more thankful."And so, in 2015, Mike Zito sets off down yet another road, surrounded by a new band of brothers, armed with an album that's brimming with mojo and driven by fresh momentum. "I hope you enjoy the trip through the roots of American music in Keep Coming Back," he says. "I can honestly say this was the most joyful album I have ever recorded"Albert CastigliaMeet Albert Castiglia. After five acclaimed albums and decades of blazing blues-rock shows, you might argue that you've already made his acquaintance. But by the Florida bandleader's own admission, Big Dog is the first release to truly get under his skin. "I just wanted to make a record that best represented who I am, as a musician, singer, guitarist and live artist," explains Albert. "With every release, I've come close, but this time, producer Mike Zito helped me nail it. He and label boss Thomas Ruf wanted me to make a raw, rocking blues record. That's what I'm about. That's who I am"Released in 2016 on Ruf Records, Big Dog confirms that Albert is a different breed to the lightweights and arrivistes who dominate the modern music scene. At 46, he's slugged his way into contention the old-fashioned way: writing from his heart, bleeding into his performances, eating up the road. "I have no illusions about what kind of guitar player and singer I am," he states. "My style is raw, unadulterated, crude and heavy. I don't have the technical proficiency of other players, but I play what's in my heart and what I feel at that moment. When I write songs, they have to mean something."Recorded at Dockside Studios, Louisiana, there's not an ounce of fat on Big Dog's eleven tracks, with Albert darting between self-penned originals, cherished covers and co-writes with some of his closest compadrés. "You could smell the mojo in the sweet Southern air," reflects Albert, "and you could feel the mojo in the recording studio. We had a studio-savvy band with an incredible amount of soul, and Mike's role as producer was the wildcard."Albert describes Big Dog as a "driving along the highway with the top down kind of record", and "Let The Big Dog Eat" sets the pace (complete with breakneck riffing and improvised barks). Other foot-down cuts include the call-and-response "Don't Let Them Fool Ya", the searing "Where The Devil Makes His Deals" (written with Graham Wood Drout) and the observational wit of "Get Your Ass In The Van". "That song was a response to all the poor, pampered souls," grins Albert, "who think that music is one big American Idol episode."Some songs cut deeper. Co-written with Royal Southern Brotherhood's Cyril Neville, "Somehow" addresses the plight of the homeless and displaced in modern America. "The poor are commonly used as tag lines in speeches by politicians seeking public office," points out Albert, "but when the cameras are off, they are often ignored and scorned. The song reflects a sadness, yet hopefulness, on how we as a society treat these people."Another poignant moment is "Where Did I Go Wrong". A soul-drenched slow-blues with harp from Johnny Sansone, it's taken from the iconic Junior Wells' You're Tuff Enough album, and in many ways, brings Albert's story full-circle. Born on August 12th, 1969, in New York before moving to Florida aged five Albert made his professional debut in 1990 with Miami Blues Authority, but truly hit the international radar after Wells invited the young bluesman into his solo band for several world tours. "It was an incredible adventure," remembers Albert. "Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a Chicago bluesman. Junior opened the door for me to do that. He recorded his last studio album, Come On In This House, at Dockside Studios. What a sign!"The gig was a shop-window, and though Wells died in 1998, there was no stopping Albert, whether he was joining the great Atlanta vocalist Sandra Hall for national tours in the late-'90s, or holding his own in onstage jams with everyone from Pinetop Perkins to John Primer. Nobody's sideman, his own triumphant solo career began with 2002's Burn, followed up by 2006's A Stone's Throw, 2010's Keepin On and 2012's Living The Dream.In 2014, Ruf debut Solid Ground was declared "smouldering and intense" by The Blues Magazine. Now, Big Dog ups the ante, offering eleven new songs to get your teeth into, and supported by a full international tour that promises bark and bite. If you thought you knew Albert Castiglia, you don't know the half of it. "I think this album is a major game-changer for me," he says. "No matter what happens after Big Dog's release, I'll always be proud of it. When we tour this album, you can expect a balls to the wall, rockin' blues show. Expect to get what I've always given you my 100%..."

Event Dates

Dates Tickets Links
16 Oct 2024 - 19:00 Standard - Min: £22.00 Book Tickets
Related Offers

Subscribe to our newsletter for updates on all things Southampton!

Submitting your information...

Submitting your information...

Thank you! You will receive an email to confirm your subscription.

Back to top