Friday, August 30, 2013

A Dream Come True

What a day I had yesterday......

Sometimes in life, everything just falls into place. The stars align and you go for the ride of a lifetime.
It takes years to add it all up and in a greater time frame than I can ever imagine.
That is the experience I had yesterday in Philadelphia.

We play a lot of shows out here on the road. Mostly in Clubs, Theaters and such.
Sometimes, lately in RSB, we get to play some very cool venues.
Yesterday we played at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
It was a BIG room, with big sound and stage and lighting, very cool indeed.
Still, their was so much more to this show that made it the gig of my life.

I met my friend Steve in 2007 playing with Bugs Henderson in Texas.
Steve and I share a common struggle and belief in a recovery program together.
Steve is an avid music lover and promoter and puts on events in Texas.
We became friends and began working together.  I played many bike rally's and corporate
type events over the years for Steve. He is always thinking of me when he puts events together,
and how he can help get me and my music in front of the folks.
Steve came and saw RSB in January at Austin City Limits Live with Gregg Allman.
He loved the band!  Thats when the ball began to roll......

Royal Southern Brotherhood performed at the 35th World Convention (Of a Recovery Program that saved my life) yesterday in Philadelphia, Pa. for 3000 screaming addicts and alcoholics.
It was a dream come true for me.  The crowd was inspiring to say the least.

It was an early day for the band after a late night.  We had an 8:30am load in and the gig
was at 1pm. These are not musicians hours :)
The guys in the band were awesome and respectful and knew this meant a lot to me.
But that being said, I don't know if they considered this to be much of a gig.
A show during the day, recovering addicts.....sounds kind of dull.
But I knew that this would be the best gig ever.  These are my people, and they are wild.
No one has more fun than people in recovery. They get high off the music, the vibe, the
spirituality of the experience.
We hit the stage and began rocking. They were digging it from the first note.
About 4 tunes into the set, I was to sing "Gone to Texas".
I knew I had to do it, so I walked to the mic and said loud and proud
"My name is Mike and I'm an Addict."  The screams were ferocious!!! They leapt to their feet....
"I'm from the Wings of Freedom group in Nederland, Texas"  More screams, even louder now.
I gave my clean date and told them what an honor and a privilege it was to be there playing music for them and with the Royal Southern Brotherhood, and then we played "Gone to Texas".
Women screamed and howled, huge grown men cried in front of the stage. I swear I saw a woman faint into her chair!!!  The lights were divine and it felt like heaven. It took everything I had to hold back losing it and just crying in front of the audience, but I made it through with the help of the band
and we rocked that song like never before. Standing ovations all around the room. Cheers and Hoots and Hollers filled the room. The energy was uncontainable....mesmerizing.
Immediately we went into Fire on the Mountain and everyone got up and rushed the stage.
For the rest of the hour, 1000 people stood in front of the stage hanging on every note that was played.
They screamed so loud at times, we couldn't hear ourselves. The band smiled relentlessly, it was never ending.  We finished with "One Way Out" and walked off to screams and chants so loud, we had to walk right back onstage. I walked up to the mic and said "So what you're saying is KEEP COMING BACK!"
THEY WENT CRAZY!!!!!!!!! They began chanting - KEEP COMING BACK, KEEP COMING BACK!!!!!!
The band launched into "Gimme Shelter" and the roof was officially raised.
Cyril and Devon took off to the front rocking, Charlie and Yonrico laid down the baddest groove ever.
I just stood their for a brief moment and took it all in......
10 years ago, I did not own a guitar. I had pawned them all for drug money.
I did not have a home, could not see my kids.....I was hopeless.
I began my recovery journey and thought I would never play music again. I will never be able to be around alcohol or places or people in the music world anymore.
I accepted that fact and moved forward because I knew I was killing myself and I had had enough.
If I had to live without playing music but live clean and sober, so be it.
10 years later I am playing with the Royal Southern Brotherhood in front of 3000 screaming drug addicts at the World Convention........UNREAL.
God is good and life is weird. You never know whats coming up, but when you're  living right and doing the next right thing, anything is possible.
Charlie and I stayed after the show and hung out at the convention.
We met up with my friend Tom and tried to see some of the workshops and meetings, but we never got further than the hallway. People stopped us and wanted pictures, autographs, and hugs....lots of hugs.
We stood in that hallway for over an hour hugging people, from all over the world.
It was so amazing and wonderful and I was and still am in awe. It almost feels like a dream.
It certainly was a dream come true and I know in my heart that I am forever grateful. I am so grateful to the program that saved my life, gave me a real life, and brought my family and music
together.  I am thankful to RSB for being a class act and really showing those addicts a good time.
This was the best gig of my life, I can't imagine any other show topping this...
Peace, Love, Zito

Monday, August 5, 2013

Nothing changes, if nothing changes....

"Well my mind's been going through them changes...."

The Buddy Miles song always hits me when I even hear the word "change".
I love that song!

Change is such a strange word and concept to analyze.
It's so simple and yet so extremely complicated at the same time. Mostly due to the nature
of what we are trying to change.  It's obviously very easy to "change" clothes for an appropriate
occasion, or change direction on the road to get to where we are going in a car.
Those are just two very simple easily changeable situations in life.
I know we could list a million. Then, we get to the deeper version of change with things
like personality traits, character defects, complete ways of thinking......WHOA
these are not so easy, yet they are exactly the same.

Example:  We are driving to New Orleans. We have never been there before.
We hit the road and head in what we think is the right direction, but we are going the wrong way.
Someone tells us, we need to turn around and head the other way to get there.
So, we trust them, they have been there before, we have not.......
We turn the car around and head in the right direction. End of story :)

Now, some of us would think we know it all and we don't need to ask for directions.
We would just continue driving in the wrong direction, rather than admit we were wrong.
This is a very common character defect. We know it all, we don't need any help.

Obviously you can see where I am going with this. Many of us ,in life, believe we don't need help.
We know it all, and thank you very much, but we'll continue down the wrong path....just because.
"Hard Headed" is what my mother would call that, yours probably as well.
But it's much deeper than that simple analogy. A lot of this comes from life long "Conditioning".
We were born into a family/situation with certain beliefs and customs in a country that lives and eats and works a certain way. We may have had shitty parents, wonderful parents, no parents. We might have been beat up everyday, molested, made fun of.....the list goes on.
Most of us do not reach the age of 25 without believing what was taught to us by the people before us.
We rarely make decisions, based on our own actual experiences, to justify our beliefs in God,
Politics, Love, Life etc....
It was handed down from the generation before us and they got theirs from the one before them.

I am sure I am just laying out some very simple, common facts about the condition of life that we are all aware of. My point is, it's very difficult to "change" this conditioning. Some of it is very good and
what makes us who we are, helped to build our character. To carry on traditions from our heritage.
Change is also a very frightening experience. As human beings, we are afraid of change.
We want everything to be the same, all of the time. We are creatures of habit, good or bad.
There is never any real need for "change" until we begin to hit the proverbial brick wall.
When things start to get painful, we consider the need for change.
And only when they get down right awful, do we actually do the work needed to bring about
a real change.
My drinking became a huge problem in my life. People told me I had a problem well before I
ever accepted it. Loved ones, friends, stopped me along the way and told me I was going in the wrong direction, but I did not believe them, and eventually when I did believe them, I just didn't care.
I knew I was heading in the wrong direction and that was fine with me.
Not until I suffered enough pain and misery was I willing to consider another way.
and that was just the beginning.....

I learned that in order to learn how to quit drinking, I would have to change one thing: Everything.
How I talked, how I walked, what I thought, everything must go.
I had to be willing to give myself up and start over in life. I had to come to an understanding that
everything I had believed could be wrong. That is the biggest pill to swallow.
It is the ultimate ego deflator. I had to learn to turn over all of my thinking and actions to a Higher Power. I would no longer exercise my will, I would follow the will of God....
...or to the best of my ability :)
Cause believe me, it's a life long struggle to do this work. It's a daily, repetitive, exercise.
Also, it's not always such a quick change. When I stopped drinking, immediately their were beneficial
results. The same when I stopped doing drugs and stopped smoking.
I had immediate positive results when I began to make a real effort to not lie anymore.
I can't say I have been 100% successful, but I am much better today.
But some of the real changes took place over long periods of time, and for an alcoholic mind
that is not an easy thing to deal with. I want it all, right now. I never want to wait for anything.
But I have learned to achieve some of these long term changes by practicing spiritual principles
in my life: Patience, Tolerance, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Honesty.....the list goes on.
The long term changes are the most worthwhile. Nothing comes easy in this world, and when it does,
it's not worth much at all.
The idea that today I can stay calm in the midst of the storm, I can be peaceful and not react to
difficult situations, I can accept life as it is on a daily basis and be a pure miracle.
These are the changes that require trust in a Power greater than myself.

Nothing changes, if nothing changes: bottom line.
In order to quit smoking, you have to actually: Not smoke anymore.
The same goes for every character defect: If I don't want people to call me a liar - I have to tell the truth.
If I want to get better at something, I have to practice.  I can't just "will it" to happen.
Life does not work like that here on planet Earth.  God provides me the opportunities and I have the choice to do the work necessary or not, it's up to me.

I am truly thankful for the changes in my life today. I look forward to new changes and new directions.
I am no longer afraid of change, I accept it and embrace it. Something new is coming and it
will be wonderful if I am ready, wiling and able to participate.
Peace, Love....Zito