A couple of months ago a local musician contacted me and suggested that I find out more about a young man who came to Sarasota from Costa Rica with nothing more than his clothes and guitar. I got a chance to listen to this awesome guitar player last month at Stottlemyer’s. He did a couple of songs with Steve Arvey and I was very impressed.
The young man’s name is Jose Ramirez. I called him and he agreed to come to my office a few weeks ago and we had quite a chat. Here is a synopsis of our meeting:
Jose loved the blues at an early age. His dad got him into it by playing BB King tunes. His Grandfather gave him a small acoustic guitar for Christmas when he was 12 and started listening to Clapton, BB King, John Lee Hooker and many others to try and emulate their sound.
When he was 16, Jose had the chance to visit Florida and Texas for a couple of months and got to play some blues jams with some awesome players like the Hash Brown Blues Jam in Dallas and then he said “he was more in love with the blues!” When he got back to Costa Rica he started his own blues project. The first one was called “Blues Trio.” They opened the first ever blues festival in Costa Rica back in 2007 where the headliners were Smokin Joe Kubek and Bnois King from Texas. At the end of the fest, Joe Kubek invited Jose to sit in for the last 2 songs at the fest.
After that experience, Jose started a new band called Chepe Blues. With this band he played the National Theater in Costa Rica and did a Ray Charles tribute. That was the first time that a blues band played this theater.
About 3 years ago in Costa Rica, he started his very own Jose Ramirez Blues Band (JR Blues Band) and with this band they brought in Debbie Davis (Albert Collins guitarist from the USA) and backed her up in her 2 shows in Costa Rica. He more recently brought John Carey from Orleans to play 3 shows with him. He has been the host of the only Blues Jam in Costa Rica for the past 2 years and has organized blues festivals, young blues band competition and tribute concerts like the BB King Guitar Festival, the annual Stevie Ray Vaughn tribute concert and the Hendrix Tribute. All of this was done without any help from the media in his country.
He basically has been working hard in the blues for the past 10 years but it’s been a real struggle in a country where the blues is not popular and it’s not supported at all. So at 27 years old, he decided that it was time to leave Costa Rica and give it a try in the US. Debbie Davies recommended that he give it a try.
Jose sold everything that he had in Costa Rica….. his car, TV, PA system, and even his guitar amp. He came here with a suitcase full of clothes and his one and only guitar. His Godmother is helping him by giving him a place to stay, food and use of her car. He is already playing in lot’s of places around the area like Ace’s Englewood’s on Dearborn, Stottlemyer’s and several others.
Jose is fighting for his dream to become a Bluesman in the United States!
Note: A few days ago, Jose announced that he is joining the Lauren Mitchell Band.