Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanks Giving

Well....it'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 of...it 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.
LONG LIVE THE BIG DRUM!!!


Monday, August 26, 2019

State of mind

Like most people, my state of mind can change throughout a day
let alone a week or a month. But for the most part I do my best to mostly stay positive
and not worry. In the big picture, I would say I am a positive person who doesn't worry
about much. Some would say that this is due to the fact that I am more financially
successful these days and have most of my needs met. I am happily married with a beautiful family and doing work that I love....true. But this does not necessarily mean that I am "happy" or "peaceful".
I have met plenty of people that seem "rich" to me and they are miserable and not wonderful.
Obviously, life is much easier when your needs are met. When there is food on the table and the bills are paid life gets more personal. When you are not worrying about just the basic needs, we start to think about the more than basic needs. Am I getting enough love, attention, etc. Mostly, people that are poor worry about one thing, how to survive. People that are not poor worry about many more social aspects of life. Some in the eastern philosophies would say that having more than we need
is a much greater burden than not. Trying to keep up with the latest in Cribs or the Kardashians is
a reality than only the newer generations have had to deal with. I grew up poor in a 5 room apartment, but we always had food and shelter....but that was about it.
I learned early on to entertain myself and be able to enjoy life without much money or stuff.

I know what it's like to be poor, and I am so thankful. I am always grateful for what we have and
the life we live today. We are by no means "rich" in the American Traditional use of the word......
we are just middle class. BUT, growing up lower class and making it to the middle is a big deal
and to me...we ARE rich. I couldn't be happier to see my kids off at College getting an education
and my children being able to play sports and go to dance. I am so happy to see that my children
don't have to live life poor. But I also worry that they do not always appreciate their lives.
They constantly see life on the internet and in movies and television that is just so over the top
and so grandiose that they think we don't have anything. I also worry that they think they are entitled to this life, this is just how it is for everyone. I know that this is not true...you do too.
I have encouraged my children that are of the age to become involved in their political lives and to register to vote. They seem less than interested. They tell me that they're not interested in politics
and that they don't care about who wins or loses. That to me is a sure sign that they have grown up
privileged. They have grown up with everything they need and they don't need to worry about others
or the future. Life will be good for them no matter what. (I certainly hope so)
This concerns me. This is a false positive of course and I am not always sure how to get them
to understand that life takes continual growth and work to succeed: Spiritually, Emotionally, Financially, Ethically, and so on.
If we are not concerned about being involved in our community and what we feel is best for the whole, we will never truly be connected as human. Life is more than fulfilling our personal needs. In fact, true happiness is helping others. If we are not concerned with who "wins or loses" in our leadership roles, we probably do not worry about others as well.

Most of all, what worries me is that if they lose this level of life with no concerns, will they be able to handle it? Can they handle "not having"? Can they still be happy?
Everyone has to learn for themselves, I understand, but as a father I want the best for my kids.

I look back on living poor in south St. Louis and think how I lucky I was to have that experience
and to have learned to be happy and be free through my work with recovery groups.
I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but in the end, I was always able to survive.
Today, I realize that happiness and contentment is all a state of mind.
If I am not working spiritually each day, I am not happy. I truly cannot enjoy the material world around me if I am not spiritually successful.
I pray each morning, do some meditation and reading and also some physical exercise.
When I have had enough sleep and my body feels good, it is easy to be spiritual.

This state of mind takes diligence and patience. Sometimes I will not feel the way I want to feel,
so I have to be patient and give myself a break. Sometimes I have to meditate longer and pray more for a day to get going positive. I do the work, because I know the result.
When I stop doing the work, I blame you, I blame life and I blame my circumstances.
In the end, I know this is not true. It's me....it's always me.
I am the one who decides how this life will be lived today.

I work hard for this state of mind because I am selfish.
I like the way this feels and I want more of it.
I realize now that I could live without almost everything material.
I do not want to, but I could if it were necessary.
This allows me to be in wonder most of my day, and that is how I choose to live life.
I am in wonder of this life.

Peace, Love, Zito.....





Thursday, June 20, 2019

Commitment

I can't really remember if I am writing a blog I already have written before.
I am almost to 100 entries over the past 7 years and I try hard to not repeat myself.
Obviously this blog is based on my life and experiences as a recovering addict and alcoholic and touring musician and most important, a father and husband. The theme is always similar but I hope each entry has something fresh to share. People often ask me to write the blog more, and I promise I will be doing so soon, but its sometimes hard to be authentic and honest when it is a chore.
Some writers write for the sake of being able to write, it is their gift. Mine is not that way.
My gift I do not believe is so much in the ability to write, but to share my feelings and world honestly.
I enjoy writing, but it has to come from the right place. I don't write songs well without purpose either.
My best songs are based on true experience or feelings. I could never be a "Songwriter" that is shelling out melodic tunes for money. I don't have it in me, and so I approach this blog the same.
I write when I have something to say that I feel is worthy of your time.

Which brings me to commitment.
I have never been committed to much in life before recovery, other than my guitar and music.
Music was the lover I would not let go of, no matter what the cost.
I have given up many other life experiences for music. I have slept with my guitar in lieu of a human
many times. The guitar is the one thing in life I have held tightly since I was 8 years old.
I often thought of "commitment" as mostly having to do with a relationship, a marriage vow.
I was not very successful with that idea early on in my life as well. I just wanted to play my guitar
at all costs. Now, throw in some drugs and alcohol and you get a pretty good story.

It never occurred to me that commitment was so powerful.
My first real commitment in life was to the recovery programs that have saved my life.
I remember hearing from a man in a meeting years ago say "at some point you have to make a commitment. You have to decide this is what you are going to do and do it no matter what."
That hit hard for me. I made a firm decision that day that I would stay clean and sober and I would work that program to the best of my ability. That is what I would do, this would now become my life.
He was right. It took making a heartfelt decision deep inside that this is what I would now be, I would not go back to my old way of life. That commitment rings as true today as it did 15 years ago.

I always say that recovery was my first success in life and that is true. It's the first thing I started that I have not walked away from  or given up on. It has taught me to make real commitments in my life outside of the meetings. My wife and I were dating and I was newly sober. I was just starting to be able to play music again and she would go with me to support me and be there so I could do my job, get paid and bring the money home. It was a fun time. We would drive to Lake Charles two-three times a week for me to play gigs and she'd fall asleep on the way back in the car and get home at 2am, then get up at 6:30am and go to work. She was always there to help me.
One night we were crossing the 210 bridge in Lake Charles and I was so excited. I was staying sober and playing music and this girl was right there with me and we were just having so much fun. I told her that I thought if we stayed together we could probably do really well as a team. She agreed!
We decide that we would make a pact right there that night. We would always stay together, no matter what. We shook on it, on that bridge. We called it the 210 pact.
For years after we married, whenever we argued or disagreed, one of us would remind the other of the "210 pact" and we would kind of let go of whatever the disagreement was.
It was always fun and sometimes like the ring of the bell at the end of a round of boxing.
"Hey....the 210 pact!"......and everything would stop.

Like most marriages, we have had some rough patches along the way. Times when we were younger and things were just not jiving. My nature to always cut and run would kick in and I would think
" I gotta get out of here" or "what the hell is going on". In the midst of all of these turbulence,
one of us would remind each other of the 210 pact. It would solemnly bring the unease to an end.
But it was not a fun little quip anymore, it was for real.
We made a deal, remember? No matter what we would stay together and be a team.
That always worked. It was deeper than our wedding vows, our formal marriage. We did this on our own, together with God as our witness and we shook on it, always and forever.
Laura was pregnant with Josie at the time and my music career was not what it is today.
Times were tight and I was working a lot and not giving her the support she needed, but we did our best. We went to the hospital for the birth of our new baby girl. It all happens so fast and so crazy and at the same time like slow motion. I was right by Laura's side, holding her hand.
I heard a loud cry and the doctor said "Mark the time of delivery at 2:10pm"

The biggest tear I have ever seen, ran out of my wife's eye. She looked at me and I was overcome.
It was too much. It's almost too much typing the story this morning.
I felt this wash over me and I just surrendered and said, ok, I get it. I'm here. This is exactly what I am doing. For always and forever.  Laura and I didn't say a word, we just looked at each other and we knew. The pact was real, it was our honest commitment and we would stay true to our word.

Everything changed from that day forward. We had honored the commitment to the best of our ability up to that day, but that day was the Universe telling us that we made a promise, and now there was no turning back. Life became so much simpler and easy and more connected than ever before.
We stopped fighting, arguing, and just started to really enjoy our life together.
All of our energy went into that commitment.
I became a better musician and a real father and husband that day.
This commitment has become the absolute focal point of our lives.
Nothing else matters, only the 210 pact.

That commitment has led me to many more in my life.
The commitment to my recovery and to my wife have really taught me how to succeed.
When I want to be truly successful at anything, I have to commit.
As I get older, I realize I do not have time for games or messing around. Some people have to go
and some get to stay. I have work to do and time is of the essence.

Not everything in life is as amazing as the pact that my wife and I made some 15 years ago,
nor should it be. But, when I make a commitment, something powerful happens.
It becomes a part of me, it is mine and I own it and treasure the cost.
It is beyond being loyal, it is who I am.
To truly succeed at any venture, I have to commit.
I never realized I could give so much of myself to others or to a cause or work, but I can.
I can give more. I am still selfish. I still love to hold that guitar.
Standing by my word is an inside job, it means I am to be trusted with the deepest of dedications.
I am proud of my commitments today, they define me.

210 pact baby...always and forever!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

GRATITUDE

What can I say?
 I know I've written about this topic before, but after this weekend,
I have plenty to be grateful for.
After four weeks touring in Europe, we came home for a day or two and headed right back out on the road to Florida. I am always thankful for the work, but I do get tired and I do get crabby.
I try my best to you put a happy face on. I pray, I meditate, and I just try to roll with the punches.
The music and the band and most of all the fans always get me through.
By Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay I was spent. The band gave a rousing performance.
We were gifted with many standing ovations and the audience really lifted us up.
 I walked off the stage exhausted.....and a little dizzy.
I made my way over to the autograph line and merch tent, where it looked like the folks waiting faded into the sunset. I gathered my best composure, grabbed a sharpie and jumped right in.....

The first woman in line had bought two cd's and was very sweet.
She told me she enjoyed my music and had not heard me before. She could tell from my
lyrics that I must be in recovery. I told her that was true.
She then told me she had over 30 years of sobriety. I thanked her for her recovery and for
sharing with me. She then looked up and directly at me and said
"My daughter was killed 6 days ago"

Let that sink in.

"My daughter was Killed 6 days ago"

I lost my breathe. She said she had this vacation planned for a while and then her daughter
was killed in an auto accident. She thought about not coming, but she knew it wouldn't be good
if she sat around and thought too much, She needed to get out of her head.
She said she needed to hear the message and seeing me confirmed to her that she needed
to come to Tampa.

What do you say? What do you do? I just said I am so sorry and I grabbed her for a hug
and she began weeping. The thoughts of my children raced through my head.
I was overcome with emotion and we just kind of held onto each other for a bit.
She told me she enjoyed the music and she would see me again.
She helped take some pictures and as the line continued and folks kept pouring in for autographs....
she was gone.

Immediately I stood up straight, thanked God for my blessings and gave everything I had in me
to the line of beautiful people that went on for 2 hours.
I was tired....so what. I was crabby.....get over it. Stop whining and give all of yourself,
thats what you are here, and look what I get in return.....LOVE.

It reminds me that I have no idea what the plan is.....I only know what MY plans are
and they are mostly based in ego.
God needs me to be somewhere, to help someone. This music is not mine.

This music, this life is based on connecting to people. Coming together and helping each other.
It's not about how many tickets we sold, how much money we make, how many records we sell.
What our outfit looks like today. Did we lose weight? Do we look old?
It's not about who plays the guitar the fastest, the loudest, the best.....
It's not about being the most popular......it's about the PEOPLE.

Connecting with the audience, being there together. The simple acknowledgement that life is
painful at best and all we have is each other.

I am a firm believer that that is what matters most.
Getting caught up in the game of success and trying to be something you are not just to try
and be successful is foolish and not artistic. It seems artistic to "portray" onstage, but it's bullshit.

Just be yourself and be honest and let it come to you.
I remembered this weekend why I do this. Why I leave my family and my home.
It's to be with the people. They give so much to me and to the band and it's amazing
that all they want in return is for us to play our instruments and sing our songs.

God bless the woman that I met. God bless her daughter and her family.
Thank you for sharing with me and for including me and reminding me to be of service.
I made a gratitude list and it's busting.

Peace, Love, Zito






Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Dachau



Today we took a trip to the Dachau Concentration Camp outside the city of Munich in Germany.
I have been on tour many times in Germany over the past decade, but I have never had much time to really do anything. With two days off in the same hotel and a little over an hour drive, the band decided we wanted to go and experience this history together.  I was a little nervous the night before, but I knew in my heart I wanted to go and see the camp and know first hand the truth and the horror.
I almost felt like it was my duty to go and to bear witness out of respect for those who were murdered.

It was cold and the sun was not shining. We took the drive and we did not talk much.

We listened to some peaceful instrumental music and everyone kind of laid low. It felt heavy in the van.
When we arrived there were school children everywhere, high school age, on field trips. I heard people speaking French, German, English.....it was kind of a good feeling to see so many young people there
being educated on this terrible history.
We walked the trail to the SS entrance and through the gate that read "Arbeit macht frei"  - work sets you free. The Dachau camp was the first concentration camp in Germany, designed by Heinrich Himmler. It was a former munitions factory that was used to hold political prisoners, Jews, Gypsys, Priests and most were used to work. In fact they were worked to death.
We walked the prison cell block, the barracks, the furnace and gas chambers.
I read as much of the museum that I could handle and watched a film on the camp.
We spent over 3 hours there today and it was life changing to say the least.
No one laughed or told jokes, no one whistled or sang songs. It was sad and cold and hard to take. At the very end of the barracks there were Christian and Jewish memorials that were beautiful. It gave me some peace and time to pray and reflect.

As we walked back through the field of once barracks towards the entrance, 

I began to think how fantastic it is that this memorial exists and that they have over 1 million
visitors a year. The atrocities that these bastards committed would not be hidden or changed in history books. It was here for all to see, for all to condemn and to not be forgotten.
The only happiness I felt today at that camp was the fact that this horrific human suffering was now known to the world and the perpetrators were held accountable in history.

I was horrified, disgusted and in tears many times today.

I am so glad I went  to honor the dead and to be educated, firsthand, of the
pain and suffering these people endured.

So the deaths and abuse of so many will not be in vein, we must never allow this to happen again. 


All I can say is, I am so thankful for my life today and for the freedom that myself and my family enjoy.


Peace, Love, Zito


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY1_PmHJaSM

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Gray hair all around me.......

That would be a weird lyric to a song......"Gray hair all around me"
except maybe if it were about being at a Blues Festival :)

My friend once told me that nothing gets weirder in life than getting gray pubic hair.
I have not had that experience as of yet......thank you God.
But....I do have some gray hair.
It's an interesting feeling to walk around all day with the same thoughts of most 14 year old
boys and catch a glimpse of myself and see gray. Huh? What happened?
I don't think I am older, but I am.
I am not "Old" in my opinion, but I am not getting any younger.
None of those things I heard from my parents meant anything to me when I was a kid,
they do now. Getting old is a trip. I like it, don't get me wrong, I like the idea of not dying yet.
I still have things I would like to do and I am feeling really good, but some days I am just wore out.
I get tired now and I realize I have to give myself a break once in a while.
Those who seem to never give themselves a break, seem like it hurts.
Sleeping 4 hours a night and working constantly seems like a horrible way to live.
Plus, I think life will be shorter if you don't ever take time to rest the body and mind.
My greatest asset these days is knowing my limitations.
I am aware of what I can do, and more importantly, cannot do. I don't really cross that line much
anymore. It's like with playing guitar as well. I know I cannot play everything I hear in my head,
so I have to take my time and be more thoughtful and considerate. I play what I feel, but it's within
my ability to do so. When I was young I would just go trying to do things that I had no business doing. I would look and sound foolish and like a chump. Today, I know what my boundaries are and I know if I can stretch them or not. That is the best part of getting older.
I know what I can do in life and what I cannot do. Sometimes I can surprise myself, but most times
I just get hurt trying to impress others by walking a tight rope with no balance.
This doesn't mean I cannot learn to do new things, I most certainly can, I am just wise enough to know that I wait until I have somewhat mastered the technique before I roll it out.

Gray hair does not bother me, neither do wrinkles or lines on my face.
I feel as though I have earned all of it. I am still here and I have a story to tell.
I remember thinking that 48 years old was REALLY old. That is exactly how old my Father
was when I was born. Now I think that is so young still. I am not a child but I am not old either.
It seems to be the best time of my life, my prime.  I am confident but not cocky.
When I was young I thought I would live forever, but today I realize that is not true.
I could go at anytime, it's really not up to me at this point.
I used to contribute to my own demise, but I today I take care of myself.
I cherish everyday the best I can.  This life is not given and the fact that I am still standing, thinking,
breathing, loving, living is pretty incredible.  If the worst thing to happen to me is getting Gray pubic hair.....I will be fine.  Does "Just For Men" work down there?  I think it might be painful.....

I'll leave you with one of my favorite verses from a Bonnie Raitt song

"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"

Peace, Love...Zito :)

Friday, January 18, 2019

New Year...New Rules

Happy New Year friends......and foes, I guess.
If you're a "foe" - why would you be reading this fluff?
Ironically, when Howard Stern was really making a name for himself on WNBC
in NYC, he was loved and hated. His antics were driving some "moral" people crazy.
Turns out that those that "hated" him listened twice as long as those who "loved" him.
Isn't that interesting......they couldn't stop paying attention to him because he made them so mad,
and they "loved" being mad.
That's the absolute truth. When we continue to do things that seem to be so upsetting, we must love them. Why on Earth would we continue to do the same thing over and over, unless we really enjoyed it.
Addiction is a funny thing. We usually think it is addiction to drugs, alcohol, maybe even sex.
But addiction is equally based in feelings and emotions. When we get really angry or mad or "riled up",
we get a big boost of adrenaline and it feels empowering and strong. We may not realize it, but we "love" that rush, that feeling, we are addicted to that rush. Even if this outburst of bad behavior is ruining our relationships with others and isolating us, we feel more and more empowered that we are "Right" and everyone else is "wrong".  Hmm......interesting. We have all been through this, we have all felt this way from time to time, but some of us have a harder time letting go. Some of us are truly addicted to our bad behavior. I know that I was for a long time. I am a true alcoholic and addict.
I have the disease. It is mental, physical and spiritual. I abused drugs and alcohol for years, most of the time against my own will, I just could not stop. But I also abused my feelings and my emotions.
I acted out and treated loved ones poorly. I was insecure and self centered, I was always right and always needed verification of my feelings. I was truly unaware.
I lied, stole, cheated and abused. I loved the rush and dug the hole deeper on a daily basis.
My favorite thing to do was to see how far down the hole I could go and how could I get myself out.
I still to this day enjoy that self-defeating experiment. I put myself in situations to see if I can get myself out of them unscathed. It is a terrible waste of time and resources. It is unproductive and very selfish.
Thank God for the 12 Step programs that changed my life. I worked some steps and learned to be aware. It has been a long, slow process, but almost certainly the easier, softer way.
I become more aware everyday, as long as I continue to be open minded and spiritual.
I have to continually remind myself, that I do not know it all, I am a work in progress and still have a lot to learn. 
What I have noticed is that more and more I am focusing on the things that matter most in my life:
Family, Friends, Music. I am exercising more each day and staying in a steady routine of prayer and meditation. I have to stay physically and mentally fit to enjoy this life on Earth.
I am also letting go this year. I am letting go of people, places and things that are not good for me.
I am shying away from ugliness and hatred.
Unfortunately, politics and social media have made things very ugly and deceitful.
But only "Online" - not so much in reality.
What I have noticed is that we see the "Real" person, showing their true colors online.
It is like an alcoholic saying things, that they regret the next day and saying it was the alcohol
talking....but we usually agree that it was probably their true feelings that were only coming out
after being intoxicated. 
I see that people who tell me that they are fed up with the hatred of politics on social media,
seem to be the worst offenders. They continue to share divisive, hate filled, one-sided crap
that usually has nothing to do with the issues at hand.
What that tells me is that they're not so interested in sharing what they feel strongly about.
That tells me that they love being mean. They like being angry and blaming others.
Instead of bitching all of the time, why not do something about it?
If you want a stronger border and are unhappy with the way things are, why not volunteer
your time in service locally in your community?
If you don't like the President and feel he is inadequate, support a new opponent in the coming elections and donate your time to their cause?

I am guilty of all of this behavior as well as everyone else.
In the past, we were duped into "Social Media" - it's the ultimate "Ring and Run".
Leave a bag of shit on someones door step and runaway.
I am also guilty of paying wayyyyyy too much attention to this hatred and politics myself.
Just like the Howard Stern haters, I have given too much of my time and energy to this shit.
But not anymore. Life is good and I am thankful.

It is a New Year - and I have New Rules.
I am sweeping away the debris of bullshit. I have such a wonderful life and I will not waste it on fools.
I will work on my behavior and stay aware of my addiction to feelings and emotions.
I am walking away from the bitterness, the confused. People who cannot bring some light
to the darkness or joy to the sorrow......sorry, you are on your own.
I am not responsible for your happiness, I am only responsible for mine.
If you love to argue and hate and bitch and moan and whine......Enjoy yourselves!
I'll be doing my thing over here, you do your thing over there.
You are always welcome to join me.....

We only have one life to live, I choose to live mine free of addiction.
Happy New Year friends! 
Peace, Love, Zito
I leave you with the Desiderata:

    Desiderata

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.
    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.
    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.