Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Leave Your Ego
"Leave your Ego, Play the Music, Love the People"
When I first heard that mantra, I was blown away.
This is what it was all about, this was the truth I had been seeking.
I was already a fan of Luther Allison and his music, but this was deeper.
This was Luther's saying, his mantra, his code.
It's simple, effective and something to always keep in mind for myself.
I took it on as my own and have tried over the past 10 years to remind myself, day in day out,
night after night of shows.....it's all about the people.
Ira Leslie with Ruf Records always shares a great story with me about being with Luther in
Memphis for the W.C. Handy Awards and how he cold not get Luther to the convention center
because he would not stop talking with all of his fans.
Luther Allison brought me deeper into the Blues and into music in general. His music and performances have taught me how to give 100% to every note, every note I sing and every note I play.
His energy is to be yourself always and shine the light for those that seek it.
I was blessed this year to have been a member of the 2018 Blues Caravan for Ruf Records.
The Blues Caravan has been going on for a long time, a new group each year of musicians that travel together and play music for the people. It has always sounded like fun to me, but this year took on a very special meaning for myself.......we would be celebrating the passing of Luther Allison. It was 20 years ago that he left this physical planet, but his music and message are still going strong.
When I was asked to join this years Caravan, I was told that Bernard Allison would be on the tour.
I had met Bernard the first time in 2006 in Omaha and I really loved his music and playing.
I said if Bernard is doing this, then I wanna do it too!
It was a real joy and learning experience to work with Bernard and the band.
There was a natural chemistry that grew out of playing each night and I truly love playing
music with him.
We just wrapped up the final shows last week and the Caravan tour is now officially over.
We began in January in Europe and hit it hard all year.
We also had an amazing young woman from Croatia with us, Vanja Sky.
She was fantastic and the three of us along with the incredible Roger Inniss on Bass and Super Mario Dawson on drums pushed hard every night to give the best show possible.
It took team work and a lot of stamina to keep the energy moving, but I think we did so in stride.
We were joined by Ruf Records newest artist, Ally Venable and her trio these last two weeks in the USA. Ally is amazing and has quite a future ahead of her.
All of the musicians and tour managers and the record label and agents and publicists....all did a great job! It took a huge team to work this hard and make this work around the clock.
I am thankful to all for their dedication to this tour.
I am most thankful to the fans. I have the best fans!!!
Night after night, people filled the rooms around the world to see our show.
Some came to see Bernard, some came to see me, some to see Vanja and the band.....
but all left feeling the joy of Luther's music.
Without the fans, we have no show. It doesn't matte how good we can play, it matters if we
have an audience to play for....so THANK YOU!!!!!
I think I have come to realize the mantra of Luther in full face value after this years long road.
Every night I hit the stage, I turned my will over to the God of my understanding.
I was as honest as I could be, I did not try to be something I am not, I was me.
I worked hard to play my instrument to the level necessary to be onstage with the great musicians
I was working with. Finally, I made myself available to everyone that bought a ticket and walked into that show. I made sure I went out early each night to shake hands and say hello and straight out after each show. I made sure I made time for the most important piece of this puzzle.....the people.
Sometimes it's hard, I get tired or I am crabby and I don't want to give away all of my energy.....
but I did anyway. Every time I felt that way, I returned renewed, joyous. I was overwhelmed at all of the love people showered upon us.
This connection we have with the music, is very intimate, very real. It is spiritual ad unspoken.
I feel like I did something important this year, like we did something that mattered.
We celebrated the life and music of the great Luther Allison.
But I also realized that it always matters.
Every interaction matters. Every time I shake your hand or hug your neck or speak to you....it matters.
This joy is overwhelming, I have a responsibility....we all do.
Walter Trout told me years ago...."Mike, you have a responsibility to the music and to the people"
I take great pride in this today. I bring all of my energy with me, everywhere I go.
I am too much for some people, like a hurricane! I can annoy some and rub some the wrong way,
but it's only because they're afraid of the joy, and afraid to let go.
Through sobriety and recovery I have learned to be me and be comfortable in my own skin.
I do not hide, I do not act like something I am not, I am me....like it or not.
Thank you to all for a great year, one I won't forget soon.
I am excited for new tours and new experiences and to bring with me what I have learned
from this one.
Leave your Ego, Play the Music, Love the People
Peace, Love, Zito