Monday, December 29, 2014

What a year......

's that time again.
If you're reading this, then you lived another year - way to go!

"It always beats the alternative" thats what people say of living vs dying.
But of course, no one really knows this to be true.
We are all just afraid of what we do not know, and quite possibly dying is WAY better.
Like Louis C. K. says - there are so many more dead people than their are people alive.
But alas, we are alive and thats the way it is - so suck it up!

I have to thank you and God for a great year!
It has been another year of crazy touring, making new friends and fans all over the world,
and getting closer to my family.
I thank God for keeping me and my family healthy and safe.
I thank you for your continued support and friendship with my music career.
Laura took over our online store this summer and she has been busy ever since.
Thats all in part to you placing orders and supporting our new business venture.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Mike Zito and The Wheel took to the stage at Dosey Doe in Houston, Tx. in January
and filmed my first ever dvd "Songs From the Road".
What a night that was - I will never forget it!
The audience was so excited and lifting the band up. The band hadn't played together in quite a while
as I was touring with RSB all year in 2013. We did not rehearse, we just went for it and the audience
carried us through to new heights.
My niece, Amanda Irizarry was there to be the head camera and work with director, Mark Bergeron.
I am so proud that she edited the entire dvd and she did a great job!
I knew that night that I needed to get back to focusing on my own music and take this great band
out on the road full time.
I put in my notice with the Royal Southern Brotherhood back in February.
I loved playing in RSB, but I never felt quite comfortable in that group.
I love each member of the band so much, I connect with each member on a personal level,
but I never quite connected with the group, together, musically.
I realize that now. It was me, not them.
It was a hard decision to make, considering we had just recorded our third album
"Heartsoulblood" together in December.
But I knew it was time to make that choice and move on, so I gave my notice in February of this year.
I gave a 9 month notice - I said I would stay until the Blues Cruise in October.
The guys were confused at first, not happy, but understanding and eventually they knew it
was what I needed to do and they supported me.
RSB took off as it always does and we toured like crazy all of spring.
I worked on editing and producing my dvd for Ruf Records.

I hooked up with Truefire in April and filmed my first ever guitar instructional course.
"Blues Americana" came out over the summer and I am so proud of our work together.
I have been a long time fan of guitar and instruction and working on getting better and learning in general. I grew up in a music store and learned guitar from the Hot Licks video series.
Creating this course was one of the milestones i my musical career, it means a lot to me.
The folks at Truefire are awesome and helped me every step of the way.

Mike Zito and The Wheel were honored to be nominated for Rock Blues Album of the Year
and we performed in May at the Blues Music Awards. RSB won for the DVD of the year!
I took my wife Laura with me to Germany with The Wheel to perform at the Grolsch Blues Festival in Schoeppingen in June for her birthday.
Then RSB headed back to Europe for summer festivals in Italy.
I had a fantastic family vacation for a week at Crystal Beach in Texas. We rented a house for the week and all hung out swimming, playing and even caught an Astros game in Houston.
RSB rocked the Notodden Blues Festival for the second year in a row in Norway.
We had the honor of backing up the one and only, Delbert McClinton. That was a hoot!
Delbert is pretty cantankerous and I love it.
We also got to do our "Exile on Royal Street" tribute to the Rolling Stones - that was a killer show.
I always thought that was a great idea - RSB doing cool tribute shows.
So I took that idea and decided that The Wheel would do a CCR Tribute show in the fall.
I love John Fogerty and I had just recorded "Fortunate Son" with Sonny Landreth for a Blues Tribute to CCR on Cleopatra Records.
I did my last European tour with RSB in September of this year.
It was along 3 and 1/2 week tour with very few days off and no end in sight.
RSB definitely worked their asses off.  But it was a good tour with great shows and I really enjoyed
the music for it was some of the last times I's get to play this music with this band.
The guys were not always so friendly on this tour, I guess they were maybe upset or just ready
for me to go.  I tried to stay light hearted and have fun.
We set out on the October Blues Cruise and I brought my daughter Riley and my son Sam.
They are both in the teenage bracket now and I thought they would enjoy this musical adventure.
We had the time of our lives - me and the kids really bonded and I think they really liked the blues music.  I played my last shows with RSB on that cruise and they were pretty uneventful.
There was no big goodbye, no hearty handshakes, no big hugs and good lucks....just finished.
Cyril was sweet to me and I was thankful for his kindness.
Not that I expected a big going away party, but I started that band and wrote a lot of the songs
and I guess I did expect friendship to prevail over the trivial.
It would have been nice to have been made felt that I would be missed and that they wished me well.
I assume they all did, but were not in the frame of mind to give it away at that time.
Either way, I have no hard feelings and I enjoyed my tenure with the band.
But I also enjoyed playing with Los Lobos on that cruise!!!! That was a dream come true.

The Wheel got together after the cruise and we took off on a midwest run to start playing again
and get ready for our big tour. Mike Zito and The Wheel and Samantha Fish took off the end of October for what would be the longest tour we had ever  had to date.
We flew to Basel, Switzerland to embark on an almost 5 week European/UK/Scandinavian tour.
WOW - what a tour it was. We played 28 shows on that tour and none of them sucked!
The band was in full force except the roar of Lewis Stephens. We were unable to bring Lewis with us on that tour, but he is absolutely to be on the next!  Sam and I put this tour together and we had a 60's style show in mind, like a revue.  She would come out with the trio and do 45 minutes. I would come out for one tune with  her on her set. Then a short break and The Wheel would take the stage for 60 minutes and she would come out and sing a song with me. Then we both and the band would take the stage for the encore and just rock out and have fun. The crowds loved this show! It really worked well. Everyone got along so well and we all worked hard to make the show better every night.
Sam killed it, she was on fire! The audiences love her and it gave me a shot in the arm to go out there and really give it my all. The UK fans were over the top, filling the rooms night after night.
I truly believe we hit our stride in the UK and have began a fan base that will last a long time.
We had great shows in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and a very memorable show at Buckley's in Oslo, Norway. Magnus Berg came out and played "Sugar Sweet" with me and tore it up on guitar. Make sure you check this young man out, he is really good.
We packed in sold out shows in Germany that was really over the top.
The show in Basel, Switzerland for Blues Now with my friend Patrick Kaiser was amazing.
All in all, this was the best, most successful tour I had done to date and it showed me that
I had built a great following with RSB and the fans wanted more.
I came home feeling really good and excited for the future.
I cannot thank the band and most of all, Sam, for doing that tour with me.
Everyone was so fun and got along so well.

I got back and took a week or so off to just relax with my girls at home.
My good friend and mentor, Tinsley Ellis had been talking with me about going out and playing
some shows together. I have always loved Tinsley and thought it was a great idea.
We found a short window in December to head up to the northeast and do a string of shows.
It was Tinsley and I and his rhythm section. We played some of my songs and some of his songs
and ended with some great old blues tunes. I LOVED these shows with Tinsley.
He is a blues master and it was so much fun to play with him and his great band. I look forward to more of these shows together next year.

In the midst of this I got the call from my friend, Paul Nelson, to come out and take part in the Johnny Winter Remembrance show in Saint Louis.
Johnny was my hero and we became friends these past 5 years.
I was sad when he passed but happy for him to have left us back on top.
I jumped at the opportunity to play his music and celebrate this legend. We had a great show
in STL and Paul asked me to stay on the bus and head up to Chicago the next night for the show
at Buddy Guys Legends. I couldn't resist and I made the trip with Paul, Marion and the boys.
Ronnie Baker Brooks was fantastic and I finally got to spend some time with this great blues man.
The show in Chicago was legendary. Buddy came out and they commemorated one of Johnny's guitars to hang on the wall at Legends. Johnny's brother Edgar was there to play with us and that was amazing! Having been transplanted to Southeast Texas, Edgar Winter and White Trash are a staple in the music down here. I got to spend a little time talking with Edgar and when he asked where I lived
I answered "Nederland, Tx." His jaw about dropped...."What? Really? You knew my brother?"
and then when I told him I moved there a dozen years ago he asked the same thing his brother would always ask me "Why?" Edgar sang "Tobacco Road" and tore it up, he was stunning.
What a few days that was with Paul and I cannot thank him enough for the invite.

I always try and finish the year with time off for family around the holidays.
I gave myself 3 weeks at home for Christmas this year, and I needed it!
I played some local shows with friends that have been really fun and just great to be back home
seeing friends and family and taking a break.  RSB was nominated for the Blues Music Awards "Rock Blues Album of the Year" for "Heartsoulblood". I am very excited for our nomination and I am proud of our last album together.
My family had the best Christmas together ever. Just peaceful and easy and lots of family time.
All of my kids are here now. Zach flew in from Saint Louis and Sam and Riley joined us a few days ago. We have been laying around playing games and watching movies and eating WAY too much food. I keep thinking I might be in trouble in some way.. isn't that weird.
My mind is always working and when I give it a break for a few days I start thinking I am missing something or forgetting something, but I am not, I am just crazy :)

My wife is amazing and I fall in love with her more each day.
She is my best friend and she makes this family work beyond belief.
It's not easy to have 5 kids and 2 ex-wives and 7 animals, but she takes it all in stride.
I truly believe she is my soul mate and helps keep everyone in line and working together.
We are a true team and I am excited for our future together!

We are working hard on our New Years Eve show at Dosey Doe - Tribute to CCR!
I think I have all of the lyrics down and Zach is working on some guitar parts.
We have our dear friends, Patrick and Beatrice Kaiser, from Switzerland coming to spend a few days
with us in Southeast Texas. They have never been here and I wonder what they will think.....
Switzerland is so perfect and clean and "organized"....HA!
They are staying in Port Arthur at a nice hotel, but...... Port Arthur and Southeast Texas are so NOT
perfect and clean and organized.....but it is beautiful in so many different ways. I know they will enjoy the culture shock...............I hope they like Mexican food.

I am sitting at my dining room table as I write this. The girls are eating cereal and Laura is playing on her phone. The big kids are still asleep and Sasha, one of our cats, is looking out the window.
It's cold and damp and rainy outside, thats as close as we get to a "Winter" here...and thats is fine with me.  I am so thankful for this life, for my family and friends.
I am thankful to you for supporting me and my career. You make my dreams come true, corny as it sounds, it's true.  Without you, I would not be able to continue making music and provide for my family.
It's hard to believe that 12 years ago I was really down on hard times.
I was not doing well at all.
But today I am doing better than ever and I thank God for this second chance at life.

I am VERY excited to jump into 2015.
We have so much planned already - tours, big shows and another studio album for MZ and The Wheel. I have a lot of songs written and demos I am working on. The guys are working on music too.
We are all gearing up for this next album and a full year of touring as The Wheel.
I am heading back to Florida in January with Truefire to film my second instructional course
that will come out sometime in April or May.
So many things we are working on and I can't wait to share them with you......

Happy Holidays - Thank you for the best 2014 ever!

Peace, Love, Zito