Tuesday, March 6, 2018


I have been living the same social life you have been living........mostly online.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...
It's easy, fun (most of the time) and a good way to stay in touch with those far away.
It still amazes me that I have meaningful conversations with folks I haven't seen in person
in 10 years.  Of course, it also has it's social drawbacks with politics and religion and worst of
all, "Belief", but all in all it has been a good experience and I find more and more ways to have fun again on social media.  Someone mentioned the other day that before social media, people didn't share their every thought with the world, so you really only knew what you had in common with the person. I agree, I definitely do not share my every waking thought with social media,  I don't want people to know everything about me, but some people do like to share it all.
I am a firm believer that if you share something that is personal, like a belief, someone is likely to oppose your view, and because you have shared it on "Social Media", then they will tell you what they think. I am not sure why that makes people angry, it seems to me thats exactly what "Social Media" is made for. I know if I share something political or religious or a hot topic, I am probably going to get some nay-sayers and I am ready to converse and argue my point. I certainly don't get mad when the oppose me, that seems silly. There is an easy fix for that, don't share!
Just keep it to yourself and you can sidestep the entire painful process.
I have also tried very hard to be open minded. When someone shares a view that I do not agree with,
I try to understand.....I may not always do my best, but I try. I wish we could all try a little harder.
My first thought is that this person is an idiot and obviously has no idea what they're talking about.....
but then I realize I am wrong. Of course they're not an idiot, thats another human being. They're must be a reason why they feel this way. So I try to understand where they're coming from and look at things from their perspective. This works 75% of the time, which is a pretty good percentage. There are some that are just sharing really dumb, false information to be inflammatory, so I don't even bother. I have come to understand that in the end, we are all just people. The color of our skin is just that....a different color. The religion we grew up with is just the religion we grew up with.  Our political affiliation is probably very much about where we were born and who told us what to believe when we were young. If I had been born in Syria, I would probably be a Muslim. Not even by choice, just by birth lottery. I was born white in south Saint Louis in 1970 to an Irish woman and a Sicilian man......guess what? I was raised Catholic. Thats just how they do it there.
I was also raised Democrat. My father was a union employee all of his life and I remember many times, when I was young, he was on strike and standing in the picket line all day, all week, for months.  All of this conditioning makes up who I am. I did not choose these beliefs, they were given to me. Over the years as an adult I made my own choices, but over time I settled on keeping some from my upbringing and some I chose on my own, and I am still openminded enough to make new choices.  When it comes to disagreeing with folks over religion, politics, belief, gun control, abortion.....I try and use the spiritual principles. They never do me wrong. The person I am at odds with is not a "Bad Guy", he is a person just like me. He has his own upbringing and experiences and they are just as valid as my own. I am not better than, or less than, I am equal to.
When I follow the spiritual principles, it all works out. When I think something "non-spiritual" about a person, I pray for them. That will usually help. When I look for a common ground, I begin to see them as human beings again and I become compassionate. That is true consideration.
I always remember that this other person is a child of the Universe and has a right to be here.

Some folks say life would be better off without social media, it was easier before this all swept into our lives......but I think that is wrong.  Maybe it seems like we are arguing and bickering more, but in the end we are talking to each other and sharing our very deepest thoughts and concerns. Talking is never a bad thing, neither is sharing. It is better that we talk about it and hash it out, than stew in it and become violent. I see a lot of people fighting online, but I also see a lot of people coming to a conclusion and agreeing on something or just agreeing to disagree, that is progress.

America is the great melting pot. We have all races, creeds, religions. It is a "Live and Let Live" world we have made, so we need to stand by our brothers and sisters and offer them consideration.
Just because we believe differently, does not mean we are different, we are very much the same.

Peace, Love...Zito

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I can't hear you.....what?

Oh the joys of living life with an alcoholic, stubborn mind :)

Although I am certain most human beings can relate, it still makes me laugh at myself.
When I was young and began drinking, I drank way too much way too fast and would
consistently be told by folks around me that "maybe I had a problem, or needed to slow it down",
but of course I did not listen. They were dumb and didn't know what they were talking about.
So, I pressed on and took the hard way.  Why not? I was from the "Show-Me" state and I don't
generally believe things until I see with my own two eyes.
I could go on and on about the dementia of the alcoholic mind and the absurdity of this way of
thinking, but whats the point? I continue to deal with the same insanity today and haven't had
a drop of of the drink in over 14 years.

I am kind of being funny about all of this, because when it's this sad, you just have to laugh.
So, I play music for a living. (In case you didn't know)
I have been playing music and guitar since I was 10 years old. For hours everyday I have had
my head stuck in front of a loud ass amplifier, just noodling away at no avail.
By the time I was 16, I was playing in bands with loud drums and cymbals, loud guitars and bass
and of course singing through a guitar amplifier. (Cause thats all we had.)
I have been told since the 1980's that I would damage my ears if I did not protect them.
I knew guys that I played with in High School that would wear foam ear plugs to make sure they
didn't hurt themselves and I remember thinking they were absolute DORKS.
Wearing ear plugs seemed so NOT ROCK N ROLL!
Jimi Hendrix choked on his own vomit, THAT was Rock n Roll.
So, I NEVER wore earplugs, ever.

I have never worn protective earplugs or anything in my entire life when playing music,
going to a concert, playing loud guitar....nothing, nada, never.
I made fun of people who did!

Then in the 1990's comes along "In-Ear Monitors"
These are very highly tuned ear pieces that eliminate the need for loud monitor speakers on the stage
and allow the user to hear much better and at lower volumes so it is much safer for your hearing
and also blocks out all of the noise and high end destructive frequencies onstage.
In my mind, this was as "Dorky" as it could get.
UGH....SO not Rock n Roll.
You can't "Feel" the music, feel the rumble, the loud ass cymbals and guitars cranking out all of that
love and goodness....it just seemed weak.

So I went on for another 25 years or so, just cranking away at the volume and disregarding
anyones concern for my personal safety. They were all dumb and I knew better.

Long story short.......here I am with 14 years of sobriety. I have learned to make good choices
in my life, to take care of myself. I try to eat healthy, I try to exercise, get good sleep.
I wear my seatbelt, have insurance, pay my bills, take care of my kids....do all the shit you're supposed to do to be a good upstanding, decent member of society.
But I continue to be around High Volume all of the time with no protection.

Mario Dawson is a great drummer and musician. He is drumming for our 2018 Blues Caravan.
He plays regularly with Bernard Allison. We hit it off on our tour last month and had a wonderful time playing music together. He uses "In-Ear Monitors". He loves them. He showed his to me
and told me how they sounded better than anything I could imagine. He said I really should consider checking them out. So, I decided I would look into this possibility for the first time in my life.
I would consider trying these out. After all, I would like the consistency and maybe, just maybe
I would consider taking care of my ears.
So I set up an appointment to have ear molds made at a local Audiologist and have a hearing test.
I have never had a hearing test in my life. I walked into the office full of confidence and swagger.
I figured maybe I had a little loss on the high end, but overall I was probably fine.
(Because I'm Mike Zito, and I am fairly super human)
I took the test, and in my head "Aced It". I heard everything and this woman was going to tell me
that she was so surprised with my super human hearing..........nope.

She said, and I quote "You have significant hearing loss Mr. Zito".
"you have the hearing loss of an elderly man. If you continue on for another year with this type
of exposure, a hearing aid will not help you at all."

I was baffled. She went on "If you lose just another 10% of your high end hearing, the hairs in your
inner ears will die and things will sound muffled forever. You won't be able to tell if things are necessarily in tune and a hearing aid will not help you to hear clearly. It will be gone forever.
You MUST begin to use these In-Ear monitors immediately to help save what hearing you have left.
If you use these ear monitors from now on, you will hear onstage much better and at a lower volume and they will eliminate the noise thats destroying your ears. This is a choice you have to make,
do you want to hear your children in 10 years?"

Well, there you go. Ok, so what you're saying is I can still hear pretty good?
But I should try to protect myself.
This is what it takes for my alcoholic mind to accept change, it has to be life or death.
Not just the bottom, but the bottom of the bottom.
So, after all these years of making fun or people who were smarter than me, I have to eat crow
and wear these ear pieces onstage that will probably make everything sound better and therefore
I will probably perform better......fine.
Another day in the life of a fool.   I sent my ear molds off to have my first set of in-ear monitors
made for me and I will begin using them in a few weeks.
Feel free to make fun of me and call me a dork, I deserve it 100%.

I am once again lucky in life to have one last chance to save things.
She told me if I began using these at every show, I could go on for the rest of my life playing music
and enjoying what I do and wouldn't suffer much more significant hearing loss.
When faced with the only choice I have, live or die, I decide to choose live.
It's not the end of the world, it's the beginning of a new one.

I share all of this in fodder and in fun, because I love to laugh at myself.
I am an alcoholic, for always and forever.
I live in my own mind and it is a trip.

Maybe younger musicians along the way will see this old man wearing these things onstage
and think "hmm, maybe I should take care of my ears too"
or maybe they'll say "that is SO NOT ROCK N ROLL!"

Peace, Love, Zito

Monday, February 5, 2018

Dreams in action

Here we are, already into 2018 and hurdling ahead like no tomorrow.
This year has taken off with a blast, and despite the News outlets determination to bring about
the end of the world, things seems to be going along just as they always do....

I am alive and well and on the road in Germany with Ruf Records "Blues Caravan Tour".
Ruf Records has been doing this tour for years and it features 3 artists and a rhythm section
on tour, playing each others music and spreading the gospel of the Blues town by town.
I have always wanted to run away with the Caravan, but the time was never quite as right
as it was this year. When Thomas Ruf asked me and my manager to be involved in this years Caravan, we both agreed it was time. But little did we know how special this event would actually be.

2018 is the 20th anniversary of the passing of the great Luther Allison.
Luther Allison is my absolute hero in the Blues. His music changed my life and his energy
and love for his fans has inspired me to take up his torch and give 110% all of the time, no matter what.  His famous motto "Leave your ego, Play the music, Love the people" is tattooed on my right forearm.  Words to live by indeed.

Bernard Allison is the real deal, and has been for decades. I opened for Bernard in Omaha, Ne. in 2006 and we hit it off instantly. I have loved Bernard's work as well, his "Higher Power" album is an absolute must for Blues Rockers.  When I was told that Bernard would be coming back to Ruf Records and joining me on the Blues Caravan, I was ecstatic. When Thomas Ruf told us he was releasing a new Luther Allison Box Set commemorating the 20th Anniversary of his passing and that the 2018 Blues Caravan would be centered around performing and celebrating Luther's music.....
I was over the moon!

What a dream come true for a guy like me. Who would've thought all those years ago living in South St. Louis, listening to Ruf Records of Luther Allison would I be on tour with the mans son, performing his music every night all over the world......WOW is all I have to say.
I have been nothing but humbled by this opportunity in my life.

Bernard and I share a common bond, we both LOVE his Daddy's music and what he was about.
We have known each other for years, but really never had much of a chance to play together until now. We knew it would be good, but maybe not this good. We have a chemistry that doesn't happen everyday. We don't talk about it, we don't discuss it, it just happens and we laugh while we are playing. We have so much fun, it looks like we are little kids.  He will tell me sometimes after the show that it almost sounded like James Solberg and his Father, quite a compliment.
We truly enjoy playing together, for me it is probably the best I have ever played with another guitarist. We just fit and compliment each other.

The Caravan is not complete without a new artist, eager to step out on the scene.
Vanja Sky is a 22 year young lady from Zagreb, Croatia. She learned to play the Blues and Guitar from an old man in a wheel chair in Zagreb who sat outside and played all day.
She has a very good voice and is a strong singer. I had the honor of producing her debut album on Ruf and I was most impressed with her songwriting. She has some of the standard fair we all bring to the Blues table, some good rocking Blues ala SRV and a great cover of Rory Gallagher's Bad Penny,
but for me her slower ballads are deeper than usual. She has a sadness in some of the songs that is very real and haunting. She is a great newcomer for the tour and brings a freshness to the show.

The rhythm section this year is intense and honestly so good. Roger Inniss from the UK is on the Bass guitar and he is something else. Roger has done many Caravan tours before, so he knows how to handle to load of dealing with three artists, and he does so with ease and class. He is a groove-meister with a lot of soul. Mario Dawson hales from Bernard's band on the drums. He jumped in with both feet and seriously lays the groove down. He is strong and rocking and has killer chops for days, but he can swing with the best of them. He also smiles all night long, which is a great quality in a drummer. Roger and Mario are super fun and have this great positive energy they bring to the stage every single night.

There are no egos in this group. No one is a primadonna, everyone works hard to lift each other up
and bring out the best in the group.  I think it is because it is based around Luther Allison and his music. It's not really about us, we do our thing, but the greatness comes when we play the Masters music and share our love for him. The audiences here in Germany have eaten it up.
Luther is a legend in Europe and the love is still so strong today.

I cannot thank my friend Thomas Ruf enough. He started this record label 30 years ago more or less
with Luther Allison. He has kept the fire burning and shares stories with me of he and Luther's travels and touring together. He tells me "I learned everything I know from the Chicago man."
His love and devotion to Luther Allison's Legacy is awe inspiring.
He loves him and misses his friend.

I just wanted to share with you where I am at and what I am doing, as I always do.
I am one of the fortunate few, I am living my dream in action.
The good Lord has blessed me beyond necessity and I am eternally grateful. I play this music
with all my heart, every night and we bring the joy to the people, just as Luther would want.

I haven't had this much fun playing music before, and I think Bernard would say the same,
other than playing with his Daddy.

Peace, Love, Zito

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Happy 2018!
I hope you had wonderful holidays with your families and friends.

When I got clean and sober in 2003, I had no idea how to live.
I had no idea how to function in life without being a thief, a liar, and a cheat.
I was very uncomfortable in my own skin.
I came to understand that I had a serious personality problem and was highly insecure.
Through time and hard work I began to understand who I was and how to live in society.
I began looking people in the eyes when I spoke to them and slowly became comfortable
with the sound of my own voice.  This has been an ongoing process for the past 14 years
and everyday I become more at ease with myself.

Playing music once I became sober was even harder.
I could hear ALL of the music. I could hear my "mistakes", others "mistakes".....
I could hear everything. There was nothing to hide behind anymore.
I had to learn how to perform and play my instrument all over again.
What sounded good to me in the past did not sound as good now and what began to sound
very good to me, I was not very good at.  I would get frustrated with myself easily and with others.
I also noticed that when I played my guitar......I held my breathe.

This was a HUGE awakening for me.
As soon as I stopped singing and began playing the guitar as a solo instrument, I held my breathe.
I held it all the way until I was finished or I could not hold it anymore.
The music did not flow out of me, it was stifled and stiff and choppy.
I couldn't understand why, I don't think I ever did this before......which is probably true.
If I was drunk, I was loose and carefree so it just all kinda came out. I was not so concerned with
how it all sounded, I just played what I felt because I had no inhibitions.
I tried to not hold my breathe when I played and it was awkward and out of rhythm.

I began to notice that I held my breathe a lot.
When others talked and I wanted to interrupt......I held my breathe.
When I had sex......I held my breathe.
When I prayed.......I held my breathe.
When I did not get my way.......I held my breathe.
I literally held my breathe almost all of the time, except when I needed air so bad I would let go and breathe....but only when it was do or die.

It was a revelation. It changed my life. I realized that it was me, I don't do anything until it's do or die.
I was so stubborn and self centered and rebellious that I couldn't even breathe properly until it might kill me to not do so. Everything slowly began to make sense.
I was not partaking in the miracle of life, I was holding my breathe like a spoiled child until I got my way......and I have no idea what I thought I wasn't getting.

So.....I began to play my guitar and breathe. It was like starting all over from the beginning.
I practiced breathing and playing. I would continue to hold my breathe onstage, but I was more mindful of it now and when I did catch myself, I would let the air out and take big breathes while I was playing. It changed everything. I began to play slower and more melodic. I began to take my time and not be in such a hurry, mostly because I could not be in a hurry with my simple, slow breathing. I did this with everything in my life, When I listened to others I diligently took slow, easy breathes in tempo. When I prayed, I would breathe slowly and deeply. It affected everything in the most positive and peaceful way.  My life began to change.......but this is one paragraph that is sharing 14 years of a process that is still ongoing.
I still hold my breathe everyday, but I am much more aware of this and I let go and breathe deep when I realize what I am doing. Slowly over a period of time, I breathe more easily and maybe more than I hold my breathe.

I have learned so much from breathing.
Air is life and without it we are dead.  I have to take part in the breathing process whether I want
to or not. My body will fight my mind on this one and do it all by itself when I am not looking.
This air is all around me and I cannot see it, but I am in the middle of it all of the time and I am breathing it in and out to stay alive.  When I breathe and realize the process, I am overcome with peace and calm. When I apply breathing to making love, the love comes through me.
When I apply breathing to playing my guitar, the music flows through me.
Love is like air, it is all around me, it is what this world is made of. Love is the 5th dimension.
When I let love into my heart and share that love with the world around me, I am taking part in the world and the world is taking part in me. When I cut myself off from the love, I am cut off. I am on my own, choking and gasping. I can't feel the energy and I have nothing to share. The music does not come from me, it comes from the Love. If I hold my breathe and play my guitar, it starts out ok but ends badly with a bunch of notes that make no sense. It doesn't move you and it serves no purpose other than my ego. When I breathe and let go and play what comes through me, I will become more open to what the Love wants to share. When the Love is shared through the music, you can feel it and it I can feel it and we have an other worldly experience. This is true with all of life.
Playing music isn't important, the Love is important.
Breathing is important, it saves my life every second.
When I stop breathing, I begin to die.
I am cut off of the Love, the air that flows through us all.

This may all sound very hokey and cheesy to some of you and maybe even silly,
but not to me. I used to idolize Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, SRV, and others for being crazy on drugs
and alcohol when they played music, thinking they were "otherworldly".
But I realize today, they were trying to find the Spirituality in the music, to play from somewhere
other than themselves. It's in the air, it's all around us, we just have to be open to accepting the Love.
The drugs and alcohol do not work, not in the long run. They might open your mind at first,
but they will only go so far and they will stop working if you use them long enough.

The deeper, more narrow path is spiritual. It is where the true Love can be found.
It all begins with breathing.

I try not to judge myself today, I play what I feel.
I breathe and let it go and be of service to the Higher Love.

Peace, Love, Zito