Thursday, July 2, 2020

I believe

"Statue of Belief"

I believe

What a seriously powerful statement.

Belief: an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.

I was given many beliefs when I was born. They were not my own beliefs,
they were thrust upon me by my family, my community, my religion, my time in history.
Thats the way things were and I accepted them like a good boy.
Some of those beliefs have stood the test of time, many have not.
My conditioning (and yours as well) becomes a form of mental illness.
I did not experience much of life early on and apply the results of that experience
to decide what I believed. I believed what I was told and taught and applied my belief
to my experiences before they took place. We all have done's human nature.

In fact, I was certain up to the age of 33 that I had little choice in my belief or thought process
at all. Thoughts appeared from fear and conditioning and I reacted before anything happened.
Some of us were lucky enough to have woke up years before, or maybe had very caring parents
or siblings that told them not to believe everything they were told.....but a lot of us did not.

I was under the impression that God was not of my understanding but of someone else's.
Someone that came before me and they told me what to believe and how to believe and
what not to believe. None of that belief was based on my own personal experience at all.

I use God as the ultimate example. If I went along with a belief in the total and finite God
of all things based on nothing more than people told me thats what I was supposed to believe....
then I probably went along for a lot less as well.

When I began sobriety and recovery in 2003, I was told I would need to change one thing.....

That process has led me down a path of personal experience and personal belief that has changed
my life forever in the most profound way a man can live. I have made my own mind over the past 16 years, something I had never done before. I have made my mind and found that I was wrong, so I changed my mind. As I have walked this narrow path, I have refined my belief over and over.
I think I know something and I realize I was wrong....or I might be wrong, so I then reassess and make new changes.  I came to the belief long ago that I do not know anything.
The less I believe I "know" the more open my mind is and I am willing to change my mind.
These days I don't know much and I could not be more happy.

I do know one thing for certain: 99% of all human beings living on this planet want the exact
same thing in life. They want peace, love and the pursuit of happiness.
So, anytime I see someone spouting off about something I readily disagree with, I stop and remind myself that this is just a human being like myself. They have the right to these conditions as well.
Maybe they're wrong in how they are going about it, maybe I am wrong in how I am perceiving
what they say or do.....but one thing is certain - they want

The faster I can see anyone I disagree with as an ally and a human being like myself,
the easier it is for me to have empathy and be open minded.
My mind being open is what is important, not others minds.
I am selfish. I wish happiness and freedom to experience life for all, but I mostly want it for myself.
So I do the work to keep my mind open for me, not for you.

My beliefs today are not much different than yesterday but a lot different from 16 years ago.
My sincere belief today is that I do not know much.
I don't gather my beliefs from the news, social media, or hearsay.
I gather my beliefs from personal experience and my experience changes everyday.
I cannot make choices today based on yesterdays belief.

This does NOT mean I don't believe what I am told. I trust people and for the most part I trust the world around me.  I am a decent member of society.
I know right from wrong and take living in a community very serious.

Today, I will try to be open minded and realize that we are human and somewhat mentally ill
from conditioning. If I stay in the belief that I do not know much, I will learn something new everyday.

Peace, Love, Zito

Monday, June 1, 2020

A painful process

I have been a witness to change first hand.
The type of change that is enduring and lasts a lifetime.
It's not easy and it hurts along the way, but it is possible and most certainly
necessary when you're dealing with life or death circumstances.
When I got clean and sober I was told I needed to change one thing......everything.
I thought they were being funny, but it turns out they were not.
Changing everything means assuming the possibility that everything you have believed
in up until this very moment is a lie, it is not true. Because everything you believed in before
this moment has lead you to this moment, and this moment is in dire need of change.

It came down to asking myself this kind of questioning:

Is the sky blue? or is "blue" just the name another man gave for that color and we all agreed
to call that shade of color "blue"....this is the truth. In fact, most people do not see the same color,
but we have all been "taught" that this is the color we shall call this shade so we can communicate with each other.
That means that everything I know was decided by another man long ago and has been readily accepted as the only way and is taught to every boy and girl from thence forward.
It's called "conditioning".
If this was true of one color, it must be true of everything I have ever known.
Applying this logic to God, Love, Wealth, Freedom, Marriage, Parenthood, Racism, Sexism,
drugs, alcohol....would mean that in order for one thing to begin to change, I would need to be willing to change everything.
Sounds daunting and overwhelming, but the next thing they told me was this only had to happen
one day at a time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time.
Rome was not built in one day. All that was necessary for change was the willingness to do so,
that in itself was change. I didn't need to create new words for the color spectrum, the ones in place were fine and thats a worthless cause. But I absolutely could not put alcohol or drugs into my body again and I had to change people, places and things that were related to my drinking and using immediately.
I needed to try and change my mind. When my mind thought of something, I had a reaction.
It was the same reaction for 33 years of life. I had never developed an alternate reaction.
The idea was the next time I thought about using drugs or drinking alcohol, instead of reacting and immediately doing so, I should stop and say the serenity prayer. If I said the prayer long enough and enough times in a row the thought to use or drink would most likely go away....for the time being.
The thought to use or drink would come back again and again and each time I would need to try this new practice over and over and over and over. It would be wonderful to think that God was creating a miracle to end my using and drinking by prayer.....but in actuality, I was changing my mind.
I was creating a new behavior. Eventually after months of putting this new practice to work, the desire to use or drink began to slow down and eventually it was removed from my mind.
I had no idea this was ever possible.
I was of the belief that what entered my mind was out of my control and I was also not responsible
for my reaction. I always thought I was broken, doomed.
But with this new powerful tool, I could most certainly conquer anything that came into my mind
that I wanted rid of, and so it began.

Not all things changed so easily, some continue to linger on after 16 plus years of sobriety.
What I have found over the years is that some of the behavior I wanted to change was so deep
rooted to a thought process I was not able to detect. I have character defects and flaws that are
connected almost to birth. I have childhood traumas, sexual abuse, religious nightmares, and mental illness that causes anxiety, obsession and compulsion and sometimes depression.

All of this conditioning was handed down generation by generation.
Until it got to me. I was the faded copy of a copy that was hardly recognizable anymore.
All of these experiences that created this way of thinking was not mine, but given to me by
my parents who got it from their parents and so on and so on......
I did not personally have any of these experiences at all, I just had the by product information
that was passed onto me.
I was so faded, I either had to change and have my own experiences or fade away.

I began my own experience in life 16 years ago and I continue today.
My beliefs are my beliefs and they change constantly based on my own personal experience.
The truth is what I seek, but it is hidden many times by years and lifetimes of untruth.
Just when I think I know it all, I am reminded I do not know anything.
I must always be ready to change everything. Tradition is overrated and not based in reality.
It is not what it used to be, it is what it is today, and the world changes around me constantly.

I learned that my bad behavior that continued to show up over the years was tied to a cycle that
I was repeating over and over and expecting a different result.
Once painful enough, I began the steps over again and worked on the behavior to change yet again.

Everything in this life is a cycle.
We do not move forward until a cycle is broken.
Most often we are not aware that the cycle is of our own doing, we blame others.
But the only fault I am responsible for is my own, I always play a role and my role
will need to change if change is the desired outcome.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Change is painful and heartbreaking, but necessary.
We can do it the hard way or the easier, softer way.

Let's pray for change today.
Why do we continue to repeat these painful cycles in our own lives and in the life
of our communities and our world around us?
What role do I play and what can I do to change.
When I accept my role, I begin to give myself a break......
when I give myself a break, I give everyone a break.

The only reason something continues to happen over and over again
is because something has not changed.

Peace, Love, Zito

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Happy Easter Pandemic

Well......I have had a lot of requests for writing my blog,
and you would think with everything going on I would have a LOT to write about.
But, I have just kind been doing what everyone has been doing....quietly freaking out :)
Seriously, I usually find something to base my entry on here: a spiritual principle, an ethical Idea,
etc.....but I have just been trying to get through each day and not go crazy.

Of course there is always an upside. I left for Europe on March 4th to do 30 dates
with my band. Today would have been our last show of the tour in Sheffield, UK.
It's hard to even imagine now that I would have been gone from my home and family for all
of that time, but I do it a lot and I am used to the routine. The routine of living on the road
most of the time and get short reprieves at home with my loved ones.
The upside is that I have spent the past 4 weeks at my house with my family.
We have not had this much time together.....ever.
I came home on Sunday March 15th - approximately 4 weeks ago tomorrow.
I spent the first two weeks in self quarantine in my backyard studio apartment. I was never sick
but we were in Germany and around enough people that coming home the CDC told us we needed to do the quarantine. We made the most of the isolation by writing 10 new songs and recording them with my band members who were also each in quarantine at their homes. This was a challenge.
Each musician recorded their parts separately and sent them to me via Dropbox where I put them all together and mixed the music. In the end we made a free download recording and in return
our Gofundme Campaign helped pay the band and myself for losing 3 months work.
WOW - we are still humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude.

So - I have been sincerely fortunate with this time and I do not take it lightly.
We pray everyday for those that are sick and suffering as this virus is very real and the threat
is as well. I try not to argue much on social media, but I get tired of the conspiracy bullshit.
I'll try harder today.....progress, not perfection :)

Another very strong upside to this downtime has been my recovery.
Meetings have all taken to Zoom and I have been enjoying meetings almost everyday
the past 4 weeks. When I am on the road I rarely get to enjoy a meeting as we are always on the go.
If I am home for 10 days between tours, I might get to go to one or two.
But with all of this time on our hands, we are meeting everyday and it's been really wonderful.
I am hopeful that most of us will have time to reflect and be grateful for this amazing life we have been given.
We have meals on the patio outside. We watch the birds in the yard every morning.
Playing games with the girls, walking the dogs and exercising has become daily events now.
I have to be honest....I could get use to this.
It will be hard to climb into the van again and leave for weeks on end when this is all over.
I will do it because that is what I do. I miss playing loud guitar and sweating with everyone
at the club. I miss the band and all of the "van talk" on the road.
But....I think I will not take for granted the things I cherish so much.

I am a little all over the place here...but thats where I am at......all over the place.
I hope I see you soon and we enjoy some time and music together.
For now I will continue to share online and enjoy my family.
PLEASE hang in there and stay home. I know it seems crazy and it's tough financially
but we will all get through this time and come out stronger than before.

God bless and Happy Easter!

Peace, Love, Zito

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The grass is always greener.....

Interesting topic last night at my group of friends.
One I could certainly relate to, as I am certain most folks can.
The idea of never being satisfied.
This notion of never having the best or enough of the best isn't merely an alcoholic or addict's
problem, it is a human condition. We live day in, day out, not knowing when we will leave this
existence and we get pleasure from enjoying the material world. We know it's not the solution,
and we try and put it away, but truth be told, the material world does ease the pain of suffering
to a certain extent. It does not solve the problem though....and it's easy to get caught up in the
idea that more will make me feel better. The difference between the obvious issues being a human
is that my mind (the addict/alcoholic mind) is I suffer from Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder.
I've spent a lot of time in my mind dreaming of something new, better, the best.
"When I get the new one, everything will be better!"
So, if it's just a new guitar, thats not the end of the world. If it's a new wife, partner, woman -
that can be troublesome. If I need one more hit or one more drink, I am really in the deep end of the pool. The idea that I need one more is a farce. I do not. I WANT one more.....absolutely.
The "wanting" is part of my suffering. It is my condition and most folks can relate.
I have learned, through extensive study, that getting what I want does not make life any better.

I've dealt with the "wanting" almost all of my life. As a child I had a deep desire for more.
When I became an adolescent I turned to theft as a means of getting what I wanted.
That thievery carried into my young adult life and became a very common practice when I
became a full time junky. The ultimate obsession for me is "wanting" one more more drink.
Thinking that would solve all of my problems. But it never did, it just lead to a stronger desire for

What I have learned over my 16 plus years of sobriety is that "this too shall pass".
When I want something, I just wait and it will go away. Take my time. Give myself a break.
It's ok to want or desire material things, although knowing they will not make me completely happy,
but the wanting is just part of this life. The more I can control the wanting and use it to my
advantage, the better I feel about myself.
It is ok to "want" things, to dream and to enjoy the thoughtful process, but not all the time.
I have work to do and a life to live and responsibilities.

I try and make myself a gratitude list, almost daily in my head, but sometimes on a sheet of paper.
That will usually put things into perspective.

My best understanding is to want what I already have, and for me life is complete.
Gratitude Is an action work and it takes daily effort to be grateful.
When I am feeling very envious, it is time to get out of myself and do for others through service work. It is almost impossible to be feel selfish and self centered when I am helping others.

Today I am grateful. The grass is never greener than it is right in front of me.
I have everything I need today and then some.

Peace, Love, Zito.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Time to make a change

It's always time to make a change.
But....nothing changes if nothing changes :)
Change takes time and commitment. It takes effort and action and a stepping off point.
In my life I have had very specific times when I decided to make a change.
But it did not happen overnight, I began thinking of the idea of changing.
I considered what it would take to make this change.....and then I sat around doing nothing!
But the idea and the seed were planted. I started to really want to change, but didn't know if I could or
if I had enough strength to go through with it, depending on what the issue was at hand.
Most of the issues with not changing were of course, mental, not physical.
I wasn't like I wanted to escape an actual prison and I wasn't sure if I could get out of the building
without getting caught or climb the walls, it was more about having the mental strength to
stop doing the same thing and try something new and stay consistent.
Consistency, that is the key to change. It takes a lot to make a big change in one's life.
Like, quitting smoking or losing weight or to stop drinking alcohol.
None of these things are easy, but they can be done with the right mental state and support.
The idea is to take it slow but definitely begin to take steps.

I have had success with change in my life, but it was not easy nor a quick fix. It took time and
it was a process, always.  Most recently I lost about 25 pounds. I had gained weight over the years
a few pounds at a time and it finally got to a point where I was pretty much not happy with myself.
I weighed about 205 pounds and my clothes were tight and I looked like I had 5 chins in every photo
they took of me playing my guitar! I had not really tried anything, but sometimes I would stop eating sugar or sweets. Sometimes I would only eat meat and no carbs. Sometimes I would go to the gym and workout a little......but none of it was a full commitment and not for long periods of time.
Finally at the end of this summer I came home and told my wife I had had enough. I wanted to lose weight and I made a decision to start. I began eating much less food than I was accustomed to, and I start working out regularly. It took about 3 months of work, but I lost about 25 pounds and really made a change for the better. Sure, I had gained a few back here and there, but I really learned what to eat and how to eat and just understanding that I was eating way too much food for one person.
With consistency and effort, it has paid off and I feel much better about myself. I only look like I have 3 chins now in photos and thats a good thing!

I use this as an example because people can relate. If I want to make a change, I have to at some point commit. I am also beginning to realize that I am getting older and life is getting shorter and I don't have time to mess around much more. If I am going to do something, I better get busy.
Which brings me to change in my life that is spiritual.
I don't have time to waste around people that are not happy and hell bent on poisoning the well.
They have to go! I like being happy and having fun and enjoying myself, and I am able to do that without the help of any other human. My spiritual life brings me such joy, I want to share it with those around me, but sometimes they are not so interested in the joy. Some folks love to be miserable.
They live for it, literally! I say it's time for a change. Why let people suck your energy and bring you down to their level of misery? Life is too damn short.

I also say it's time to put forth more effort to love in 2020.
I try to love with all of me, but I think I can do better, we all can. I am still selfish and self-centered,
and would like to think of others more than myself.  When I help others and give of my time,
I get so much more in return.

It's the end of the year, it's winding down and a brand new one we have never seen before is right in
front of us - I am thinking of taking some steps and making some more changes for the better.
Or....maybe I will just lay around and watch tv.....we'll see!!

Peace, Love...Zito

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanks Giving's Thanksgiving tomorrow. WOW, this year has gone by very fast.
Christmas is around the corner and I can't seem to get things to slow down.
I have nothing to complain about, thats for sure. My life is a gift and I keep
trying to be grateful and thankful and give my time to loved ones.
I do realize that Time is what matters most. Making money helps make life easier,
but ultimately it does not equal time. 
My father worked all his life and we never really had much money.
He worked 40-50 hours a week and went out with friends on the weekends.
He was older when I was born and he was tired. I am not complaining, but he just
didn't have the verve to get outside and throw the ball around with me.
He always gave me money instead. I would ask where he was going or what he was doing
and he would reach into his pocket and give me $5. All of my siblings were older and out of the house by then, so it was just me and my Mom and Dad. They both grew up very poor
so him giving me $5 was a big deal in his eyes. I always took the money of course,
and usually ran straight to the neighborhood K-Mart and bought a record.

I find myself now older and with all of the kids around at varying ages and I have provided
for them financially as best I can. They have what they need and none want for much,
thats a good feeling. But, I want to spend more time with them, Especially the older children who I did not get to spend as much time with when they were younger because I was working
so much more then. My Father did the same thing when he was retired and had more time.
He would call me and invite me over to watch tv or come see him, but I was always too busy then.
My older kids are getting too busy themselves now, they have friends and jobs
and they are living their lives. I am happy for them, of course, but now that I have more time
I want to spend time with them and they are usually not available. This is life.
No one has any hard feelings that I am aware of, we all get along wonderfully and stay in contact
pretty regular. It's just life, it moves forward.
If I had a chance to do it over again, I would've spent more time with my Father when he was still alive. I would've listened to his stories more intently and enjoyed being with him and my Mother.
Instead, I was in a hurry to get going in life.

I am lucky to have two younger girls at home and I try my hardest to spend as much
time with them as possible. We play games, go on trips, watch tv and just have fun together.
I realize now that giving of time is much more valuable than giving money.
Of course we need money to survive this world, but I have a choice everyday of how I will
spend my time, and I choose to spend it with my wife and my family when I am home.
I am gone for long periods of time, so when I am home, I try to be HOME.

Thanksgiving to me is about family and friends.
I am thankful for all of the love I have in my life.
I have spent a few when drugs and alcohol cut me off from my loved ones
and I never want to feel that way again,
Today I will do my best to share my time, my valuable time, with loved ones.

"I see my folks, they're getting old
And I watch their bodies change
I know they see the same in me
And it makes us both feel strange
No matter how you tell yourself
It's what we all go through
Those eyes are pretty hard to take
When they're staring' back at you
Scared to run out of time"
Nick of Time
Happy Thanksgiving!
Peace, Love , Zito

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Yonrico Scott

Well....I have been putting this off for a week now and I guess I need to get these emotions moving forward. No need to stay stuck in the sadness with life all around me.

I lost a friend last week, Yonrico Scott.
For those of you who do not know of whom I am speaking, Yonrico was a world famous drummer
who hailed from Detroit. He lived in Atlanta the latter part of his life and travelled the world with many musical giants. He had drummed for Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Peabo Bryson, Earl Klugh and countless others. I first became aware of Yonrico with the Derek Trucks Band.
I was invited by a bass player friend in St. Louis to come to a show at Cicero's in the West End.
It was the Derek Trucks Band, just a trio at the time, performing on a Tuesday night for maybe
40 people. Everyone was talking about the new young man from Florida and is incredible slide playing, and it was incredible. Todd Smallie was on bass guitar and Yonrico was the drummer,
and man was he drumming. I couldn't believe how much power they had in this trio.
He would yell behind the drums sometimes and was really over the top. Derek was more reserved
so Yonrico really stood out onstage. I kept up with this band for years, seeing them play another time or two with more musicians and on videos and the Eric Clapton Crossroads Festivals.
Yonrico always stood out as a leader and a passionate musician.

Fast forward a few years later and my manager at the time, Rueben Williams, and I were talking about putting a band together with Cyril Neville and Devon Allman. We had met Charlie Wooton who filled the bass player spot wonderfully but still needed a full time drummer.
Thats when Devon called me and told me he had spoken to Yonrico Scott and that Yonrico was interested in joining the band. Thats when I was over the moon for the project.
I was wowed by the idea that I might get to work with that man I saw over a decade ago.
I always loved the idea of being a musician, but I don't think I ever considered myself on that level before and it was inspiring and intimidating at the same time.

I met Yonrico Scott in December of 2011 at Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana.
We were all getting together to record our first Royal Southern Brotherhood album.
I only live a few hours from the studio so I arrived the night before everyone else and was working with our engineer, David Farrell, setting up the studio. We had the drums up, mics up and I was playing some guitar for David to get sounds at the mixing board.
Thats when Yonrico entered my life. He walked in the big room and filled it immediately with his presence and personality. He had the biggest smile on his face and we hugged and said hello.
He asked me what I was just playing and I told him a song I had written for the new album.
He jumped on the drums and said let's go, let's play it. So we began playing this song, just the two of us and David at the mixing board. Within minutes we had the groove and the arrangement feeling so good, David pressed record and we cut that track right there. The song was "Hurts My Heart".
It was so good and powerful, that it is the exact track that is on the album today. The band showed up the next morning and we had already recorded two of the songs that would be on the record.
We just hit it off, right from the start. Like old friends who hadn't seen each other in years.
We laughed and joked and had an instant chemistry - which is not always so for older men.
We make most of our close friendships when we are young, we don't normally go making new close friends in our 40's and 50's.  But there was something about Yonrico, we just clicked from the start and it never stopped.

The Royal Southern Brotherhood was my life for the next 3 plus years and I spent a LOT of time with the band and Yonrico. We became very close touring the world. It was exciting and crazy and tiring all at once. The band started and it never stopped. I have so many funny stories about Yonrico.
He was always the highlight of my day. His words, his phrases, he had such a large personality.
He would stop traffic in the middle of a busy street in Germany. He would block the aisle of the airplane passengers to let and old woman out. He would yell words loud, and usually just ONE word,
at restaurants or airports or hotel lobbies. But most of all, he played the drums.
Man, I have NEVER played with a drummer, let alone musician, that was as good as Yonrico Scott.
When he "played" the drums....I mean he PLAYED the drums. He WAS the drum beat.
I don't mean just loud, because he wasn't always loud or overbearing, he was just full body, mind and spirit playing the drums. He led the band, but he listened to everybody. He taught me how the "groove" works. It's big, the groove is huge. It's not just the drum beat, we are all playing the "groove", and it moves. It's not a click track or programmed beat that is the same, it rocks and sways and speeds up and slows down and the whole group moves together, pushing and pulling like an orchestra. Yonrico was educated and knew classical music, jazz, rock, blues, African and world music. He would educate the band and mostly me, because I was listening. I didn't know these things and I knew this was my chance at an education in music. I learned more about music from Yonrico Scott, than I have ever learned before in my life. I knew about playing guitar, but this was music.

We had a good run with RSB and in a few years, I hung my hat and took a bow.
I had so much music of my own that I wanted to record and write, I went on to pursuing my solo career. Yonrico was not happy. We had many talks about life and where we were going and I think he felt like I was breaking camp, walking away. I was. There was too much tension in the band and I had just lost my mother and I wasn't interested in continuing a road that seemed endless and not fulfilling. In the end there, he and the band understood and they continued on for many more years making great music with great new additions.
We stayed in touch though and spoke every other week usually.

Yonrico was a big part of my family as well. My wife and children loved him.
He taught my daughters how to play drums, he encouraged my son Zach on the guitar.
We had dinners and breakfasts and spent a lot of time together.
Yonrico was a VERY likable man. He was charismatic and very spiritual.
Kids were drawn to Rico and his charm and big smile.

Yonrico and I made 6 records together over the years.
We made records for RSB, Samantha Fish, Laurence Jones, The Blues Caravan, and Vanja Sky.
Once RSB had kind of stopped, Rico became available again and we found work to do together.

Yonrico was always about staying healthy and eating right and going to the gym, thats the Yonrico I knew. He had suffered a heart attack and bypass surgery years before and it put him on a path of

physical fitness and staying healthy. He was always concerned with what food he was going to eat,
to the point of it being hilarious sometimes.

We planned for Yonrico to join the 2018 Blues Caravan tour with Bernard Allison, Vanja Sky and myself. He had played on the recordings and we were excited to get to play together some more and spend time traveling. Rico called me just after the new year and explained to me that he was not feeling good and needed to stay home from the tour to have another surgery and recuperate.
I was worried for my friend, but he assured me he would be fine, and he was for the most part.
He took the year to rest and write music and paint. He spent time with family and Jesus, whom he loved so much. We talked on the phone and texted and stayed close, always saying we would find another project to do in the future.

By the end of 2018 he was feeling good again, so I called on him to join a new group.
It was a Tribute to the Allman Brothers based in St. Louis called "Allman Anthology".
It would be a full 7 piece group with some heavy hitters and Danny Liston singing from the famed "Mama's Pride". I told him it would be fun and it wouldn't be full time or heavy touring, just rehearsing some and then playing a big show maybe 4-5 times a year. He thought this was a good project for him to get back on his feet and start playing again with is health. We were both excited to get to play music together again.

We had a blast this year. We played 4 very big, successful Allman Anthology shows. Two in St. Louis and two in Texas. Yonrico was able to see my family again in Texas and we had some wonderful meals and spent some quality time. I would "handle" Rico when he flew in, pick him up at the airport. Bring him to the hotel, take care of everything so he could just play and relax. He was very happy and really feeling good about life. We were having so much fun, we talked about recording this band and writing original music. The Allman Anthology group is special and Yonrico fit right in, he was our leader yet again and we all looked up to him for direction in the "groove".

Three weeks ago, I picked Rico up in St. Louis at Lambert Airport.
I rented a really cool Dodge Challenger in Sparkle Maroon. He LOVED it when I showed up at the terminal, he yelled "OKAYYY"!!  We had a great rehearsal with the band and afterward we went for a late dinner at Courtesy Diner on Hampton Ave in St. Louis....a southside tradition :)

We had decided that Yonrico would sign a recording contract with my record label "Gulf Coast Records" and I would come to Atlanta in November to produce the recording. He was very excited about making this record - he wanted to finally make his own Blues record. He was going to educate us all by going through all of the African drumbeats that later became the shuffles and stomps in our western Blues culture. It was going to be a fantastic record, and I was so excited to be working with my friend again. The next day we had soundcheck and I could not get a hold of Rico. He was not answering his phone or his door at the hotel, for hours. I was getting worried and when he finally got back to me I jokingly asked if he was going to die on me at the hotel.......he laughed hard and said
"But I'm not afraid to die."
The show was momentous and Yonrico made sure everyone saw him
He wore a lime green/lemon shirt with lemon pants - Green tennis shoes and he ran upfront during the show to strike a pose in front the crowd, they went wild!
We laughed and he played so good, the band put on the best show yet.
The next morning I had breakfast with Rico and we signed the recording contract and really
enjoyed our time....I dropped him off at his terminal and we hugged and said goodbye.
We would see each other in November in Atlanta to make his new record.

Last Thursday, September 19th, I was arriving at Dockside Studios where it all began to produce a new album with The Proven Ones for our record label.
I walked in the door and Charlie Wooton texted me......he told me that Yonrico had passed.
I was gutted. I just looked around the room and couldn't believe this is where we met and now he is gone. It was shocking and very upsetting. I spoke to his son, Rico jr., and he verified the passing to me. He told me how happy his father was to be working with me again and excited to make the new record.

I didn't cry when my Father died, I didn't know how. I was still learning to feel again after years of drug addiction. I cried years later after my Mother passed. I didn't know how to grieve, but losing both parents and working the program taught me how to feel and embrace the grieving.
I cried the night I heard that my friend was gone. It hurt and it still hurts, but it's getting better.
Life is for the living and I am alive, so I must continue forward and keep his spirit alive.
The guys in the old band, RSB, began texting and communicating together for the first time in years as a group and we told every silly funny Yonrico story we could think was great.
I could not make it to his service this week and I was pretty sad about that, but I was there in spirit.

Rico jr. asked me to give remarks at his service and since I was unable, I have been wanting to share with you here, my tribute to a friend.

Yonrico was one of the kindest, wonderful, intelligent, gifted and talented people I have ever known.
He was special and full of love. He made me laugh so hard and taught me so much.
I will miss my friend, but I know he passed peaceful and with family around him.

God Bless you Rico, we will do our best to keep the Groove alive.