Blues guitarist/vocalist Mike Zito recently won the 2018 Rock Blues Artist of the Year at the BMA’s! He is a solo artist as well as a co-founder of the Royal Southern Brotherhood band. He is no stranger to the Tampa Bay Area! He has played Skipper’s Smokehouse and the Tampa Bay Blues Festival! He is acquainted with the Sarasota/Bradenton area, having played many times at Ace’s Live Music Venue in Bradenton and TONIGHT he will play at The Blue Rooster in Sarasota! Don’t miss out on a great show!
Congratulations on your win for 2018 Rock Blues Artist at the Memphis Blues Music Awards! What was that moment like for you?
MZ: Sincerely like a dream, I did not expect at all to win and it was surreal when my name was called. I will not forget that moment.
What has the fan reaction been for your newest CD “First Class Life”? What was the motivation for this record?
MZ: My core fans are Blues music fans and this album was made for them. I wanted to write and record some new Blues original material to bring to the people. We have been fortunate with a lot of great reviews and the album opened at #1 on the Billboard Blues Charts.
Long before Prince left us, you were playing “Little Red Corvette” as a popular cover on your setlist and you have recorded it. What does this song mean to you?
MZ: I was a teen of the 80’s and 1999 by Prince was a big album. I loved the song. When I began playing music for a living I did a lot of solo acoustic shows and needed material. I just started finding ways to play songs I liked, regardless if I could sing like the original artist. It’s crazy after all of these years that it is still played every day on The Coffeehouse on Sirius.
You have a blog that can be reached through your website www.mikezito.com and have been open about your journey in addiction and recovery. Does being a musician present any unique challenges in being in recovery?
MZ: Early on in sobriety it was a challenge to make sure I would be comfortable in the environment, but these days my life presents many opportunities rather than challenges. I meet a lot of folks that have struggles in their lives, albeit drugs and alcohol or the loss of a loved one, many things. The struggle is what we have in common.It’s the connection I share with my fans and friends.
You are on the road for the next few months, what do you do when you aren’t playing?
MZ: If I am on the road and have a day off, I am trying to exercise and relax. The band likes to go to baseball games in the summer or maybe catch a movie.If I am lucky enough to be at home, I am playing with my kids.
Sarasota is Allman country with both Betts and Allmans living here over the years. Your band Royal Southern Brotherhood was compared to the Allman Brothers in that you had two lead guitars. Tell us about your experience of being in that band with an Allman and a Neville!
MZ: Well, I am a huge Allman Brothers fan, and a proud founding member of RSB. That being said, I don’t think anything compares to the ABB. I have known Devon Allman for over 20 years living in St. Louis together and I have had the pleasure of writing many songs with Cyril Neville and winning the BMA for Song of the Year with “Pearl River” in 2010. Playing with these two along with Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton was an incredible journey. We made some great music and it was a wild ride. I miss playing with these guys and I am hopeful that someday soon we will have another go at it.
Photos courtesy of Mike Zito and Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography