Rock ‘N’ Roll: A Tribute To Chuck Berry
Things began happening for Mike Zito when he signed with the Delta Groove subsidiary Eclecto Groove in 2008. His second album for them “Pearl River” featured the title track co-written with Cyril Neville and they received a 2010 Blues Music Award for “Song of The Year”.
Zito, Neville and Devon Allman formed “The Royal Southern Brotherhood”. They recorded two albums together, also on the Ruf label, and won a BMA for DVD of The Year. In 2014 Zito left to tour with his own band. Overall Zito has twelve BMA nominations, eight with his own band; and won his third BMA award as “Blues Rock Artist of The Year” in 2018. This is Zito’s 16th album overall.
This new album is a tribute to rock n’ roll architect Chuck Berry. All of the twenty songs were written and recorded by Berry except for one written by W.C. Handy. The current band lineup includes Zito, guitar and vocals; Terry Dry, bass and vocals; Matthew Johnson, drums and vocals; and Lewis Stephens, keyboards.
Zito states “This is a very special project for me, I lived in Chuck’s hometown of St. Louis for 32 years, and I worked at a small musical instrument store where his drummer also happened to be employed. Chuck’s son would drop by on occasion as well. He was an icon, and rightfully so. I’ve been playing his songs since I was a kid. Needless to say, he was a tremendous influence on my career, and, of course, on many other musicians as well”.
Each of the tracks features a guest guitarist who was also influenced by Berry. On the opening track, the W.C. Handy classic, “St. Louis Blues” the honor goes to Berry’s grandson, Chuck Berry III. Joanna Connor is featured on “Rock And Roll Music” first recorded by Berry in 1957; seven years later it was recorded by The Beatles. Walter Trout is the guest guitarist on 1958’s “Johnny B. Goode”. Joe Bonamassa joins Zito on “Wee Wee Hours” the flip side to 1955’s “Maybelline” here featuring guitarist Richard Fortus from Guns N’ Roses. Anders Osborne plays on 1959’s “Memphis, Tennessee”. Other guests include Eric Gales, Robben Ford, Ryan Perry, Luther Dickinson, Sonny Landreth, Tinsley Ellis, Tommy Castro, Albert Castiglia, Jimmy Vivino, Kid Andersen, Kirk Fletcher, Josh Smith, Jeremiah Johnson, Alex Skolnick and Ally Venable.
This is an exciting album. It is great to hear these songs again. Zito is at the top of his game as his inspiration shines through on these Berry classics.