Get a double dose of blues in Winter Park tonight
April 16, 2009
The blues return to Winter Park tonight as the Grand County Blues Society presents two blues bands, featuring Mike Zito and John Nemeth, for what the GCBS is billing as a Double-Barrel Blues spectacular.
Winter Park is one stop of three touring guitarist Zito has scheduled in Colorado in April. Deemed a true roots rocker, Zito’s style “draws material from various American musical traditions including blues, rock, country, and folk,” a press release states.
Zito grew up in St. Louis, Mo., “immersed in the gritty sounds of the south side that would become the groundwork of his future in music.” Instrument of choice is the electric guitar, with influences to include Prince, Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, and Buddy Guy.
Little did he know, the release states, “he would find himself among such legends,” from Chuck Berry to Bennie Smith at a local guitar shop where he worked. What stood out most among his celebrity encounters was the fact that the musicians were “really happy doing what they were doing.”
Just out of high school, he soaked up the sounds he encountered in the store and began building his own style. When asked if he had reached that same happiness of his early encounters at the store he said “more than ever.”
Since then he has released four albums. Newest album “Today” debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard Blues Chart. Title song “Today,” his fourth and current single, was voted No. 1 on the Roots Rock Music Chart for two weeks in a row.
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“Wow,” Jim Stick wrote on the GCBS Web site, thanking GCBS founding board member John Catt for recommending the musician (now based out of Texas) to him. “I encourage you all to go check this Zito cat out. … Great songwriter, great singer, great guitar player and what a super nice and humble guy,” Stick said.
Zito met Nemeth last year, when they played a couple shows together. He said Nemeth is “one of the best blues singers out there right now.” When they play their “straight-up blues” together, “it’s a good mix,” Zito said. “It’s not quite the same (style) but mixes well.”
Nemeth, of California, is described as a singer steeped in blues tradition. A harmonica player “of riveting intensity and virtuosity,” his style is said to be reminiscent of B.B. King, Ray Charles and Junior Parker. With a decade-long career Nemeth has opened for big names such as Robert Cray, Keb Mo’, and Earl Thomas, and has performed at major music festivals around the world.
Nemeth and his quartet will kick off the show Friday evening, followed by Zito and a trio coming up to play with him. Nemeth said he plans to play songs off his “Love Me Tonight” album, which was just released in January.
Songs off the CD have reached the No. 1 spot in radio play off and on for about 12 weeks, he said. Many of them, “everyone can relate to,” he said, adding “anyone that’s livin’ … and lovin’.”
Most likely the two, who are also scheduled at this summer’s Blues from the Top festival, will perform a set together. “It will be quite a fun night,” Zito said. “(We’ve) been waitin’ to play in Winter Park (and we’re) looking forward to a good crowd.”