Odds Lane is a uniquely blended mix of driving blues-rock riffs and solid grooves with an overall pop sensibility. They create music that fuses diverse influences from a wide range of styles but maintains the integrity of what has become their own original sound. The band is the musical outlet of the songwriters Doug Byrkit and longtime musical partner Brian Zielie.
Doug and Brian have been friends since 8th grade and their music partnership goes back with their first band while still in high school. They have maintained a close working relationship that has lasted through college and a host of musical projects. In the last 25 years, they have toured both nationally and internationally with various artists.
Fresh out of college Doug Byrkit and Brian Zielie met Mike Zito who was looking for a rhythm section to form his band. They were a perfect match. The trio began playing clubs around the St. Louis area and in no time they were working 7 nights a week. In the late ’90s, they recorded Blue Room which celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary and was recently remastered and released on Ruf Records.
Odds Lane was formed in 2003 and they began recording and playing live to a steadily growing fan base. As part of an effort to promote emerging artists, they were invited to record at legendary Sun Studios, after which they released the first of several projects as independent songwriters in 2004. In 2012 their release Dark Matters garnered Byrkit an ASCAP Plus Songwriting Award.
LOST & FOUND, Odds Lane’s newest release on Gulf Coast Records was inspired by the re-mastered release of Mike Zito’s Blue Room. They have come full circle with a collection of eleven songs that are influenced by their South St. Louis blues rock/funk roots. Lost & Found was recorded at MARZ Studio in Netherland, TX and mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer David Z (Prince, Etta James, Buddy Guy).
There’s nothing traditional about Blues artist Diana Rein. Diana’s parents escaped communist Romania in 1981 when she was 3 years old. They arrived in Chicago, on Halloween with only $50 and a dream for a better life. Diana brought her family's strong Romanian work ethic to performing arts school, where her talents flourished, eventually leading her to a role in the classic American 90’s comedy "Home Alone”. Diana's love of Blues started at 8, when her parents brought her to a Chicago Blues Club, arranging to have her perform some songs with the band. This was a defining moment. A blues artist was born. Over the years, Diana's music heroes and influences emerged: SRV, Prince, and Philip Sayce to name a few. But it all started back in Chicago, the home of amazing Blues legends like Buddy Guy. Diana followed her heart to California, where it would be broken repeatedly and made stronger each time. With experience came strength, self-reliance and plenty of songwriting material. At one point when hope was slipping away, Diana promised to make music her life's work and grabbed the reins on her songwriting and guitar playing. Music never stopped knocking and Diana is glad she finally swung the door wide open and let it in. So are her fans. Today Diana calls Southern California home, where she continues to release original music and play what feels good for anyone who will listen. Her promise to her fans is that she will never stop making music and growing as an artist.
“It may be a bit premature to crown Albert Castiglia America's newest King of the Blues, but there's
little doubt that he at least deserves the title of heir apparent.” -- Miami New Times
As most artists will attest, the most unexpected circumstance can spark artistic inspiration. That’s a fact that hasn’t been lost on singer, songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire Albert Castiglia. With his latest album, the aptly named Masterpiece, he celebrates an unforeseen triumph -- a connection with a daughter he never knew he had. The result is a work that’s both personal and provocative all at the same time.
Castiglia calls this the most meaningful album he’s ever made. “My daughter finding me and opening up my world to an additional family, including two grandchildren, brought out the deepest material I’ve ever created,” he notes, “along with my wife, they were my muses.”Indeed, songs such as “Keep On Swinging”, “Masterpiece” and “Bring on the Rain” address the unexpected emotions that infused his psyche with the discovery of a family he never knew.
“Prior to my daughter finding me, my entire adult life felt incomplete,” Castiglia reflects in the song “Bring On the Rain.” “I never knew why I felt that way. I could never put my finger on it. Then when I discovered my daughter, my heart was suddenly overflowing.”
The title track echoes the same sort of sentiment. "After my daughter and I connected for the first time, I submitted my DNA sample to the lab to confirm that I was indeed her father,” Castiglia recalls. “I knew she was my kid the second I saw her picture, but my daughter wanted closure and by me taking the test, it would put all the speculation to rest. On the day my results came up positive, I wrote a letter to my daughter telling her how happy I was to be her father. At the end of the letter I wrote, ‘I've been an artist for thirty years, but you're my masterpiece!’ I ran with that line and made it the perfect song to express my love. As the lyric says, I loved her before I even knew her.”
Co-produced by longtime friend and colleague Mike Zito, and released on Zito’s own label, Gulf Coast Records, on May 24th, the album also finds Castiglia reflecting on the disappointment and disconnect that’s gripped the nation in the past several years. Several songs, “Heavy” and “Love Will Win the War”, deal with the dilemma that has impacted the those forgotten as the result of this modern malaise. “Heavy” brings those ideas to the fore. “It was inspired by people who live in this country and feel alienated, unappreciated, demonized and shunned by society,” Castiglia reflects. “The homeless, the vets, immigrants, people of color, teachers, the LGBT community...they were on my mind the whole time I wrote this tune.” “Love Will Win the War” goes even deeper into the horrors and violence that have shaken the very pillars of the nation’s faith and fortitude. Castiglia says it was inspired by the mass shootings that were all too prevalent in recent years. “Those horrific events got me thinking, ‘What goes through my daughter's mind when she drops her kids off at school? Does she think the worst or hope for the best? I really have a hard time playing this song without choking up, because I have my grandchildren in mind when I play it. It's sad, but I believe it's also hopeful.”
The tone of the album underscores both its mood and its message, from the forthright stance of “Bring on the Rain,” the frenzy and fury of “Keep On Swinging” and the driving determination of “Catch My Breath,” “Thoughts and Prayers” and “Red Tide Blues,” to the rustic reflection of “Love Will Win the War,” the confidence and contemplation of the title track and the somber and sobering “I Tried To Tell Ya.” By Castiglia’s own admission, the sound is raw and unfiltered, little wonder since he and Zito play all the instruments between them.
“I think blues is a wide open net,” Castiglia once told a reporter. “There are a lot of different ways to do it...I’ve taken a lot of heat for what I do. Some people think I’m too edgy to be considered a blues artist. On the other hand, I don’t think that people like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf would have wanted me copying them and redoing their stuff. There’s no point in doing that. They would want me to do my own stuff.”
Of course, Castiglia should know. The Miami-raised musician served an apprenticeship while backing legendary blues musician Junior Wells. He later went on to work with singer Sandra Hall. Never content to allow himself to be confined to any particular category, he embarked on a solo career that’s yielded eight critically acclaimed album and consist kudos for his exceptional instrumental prowess, his searing vocals, and live performances that have dazzled audiences from coast to coast. It’s little wonder that Miami’s New Times lauded him as South Florida’s “Best Blues Guitarist” or that USA Today was inspired to remark “It's a revelation to discover the thrilling retro-electric blues from this astonishing young guitarist.” Likewise, BluesAbout.com called Castiglia “one of those mid-tier artists that is just one album away from breaking big and becoming a household word in the blues world.” Or, as M Music & Musicians once noted, “His back-to-basics approach follows in the footsteps of those who fostered the blues in the Mississippi Delta and the smoky late-night haunts of Chicago.”
For now anyway, Castiglia is content to celebrate a new chapter in his life and what has become an added incentive for making music. That philosophy is perhaps best expressed in another song on the new album, a track called "Keep On Swinging." “It’s about advice I would have given my daughter had I been around when she was a kid but which I'm now able to give to grandchildren,” Castiglia says."’Keep on swinging, don't let the haters get you down.’" I always try to remind them that they are special and can accomplish anything their heart desires if they only put their minds to it. They’re the ones that give me hope for the future.”
An old Stella Harmony acoustic guitar and an old record Guitar Boogie inspired the young eleven year old Tony Campanella to start playing guitar. His uncles continued to feed him a steady diet of Albert Collins, Albert and Freddie King, Son Seals, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, Jeff Beck, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Jamming with local musicians whenever he could paid off with his first club gig at age twenty. In the early 90's, Tony performed in the LA West Blues Band with Tommy Bankhead and then later joined The Sliders in the mid to late 90's. He then branched off and started his own power trio The Tony Campanella Band. Best described as a heavy, rockin' blues band, The Tony Campanella Band has been working the St. Louis circuit for a lifetime. For twenty years, Tony Campanella has been a part of the well known Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute Show in St. Louis, MO. Talent and experience gained Tony the respect of fellow artists. Tony has had the honor of opening for Etta James, Robin Trower, Deep Purple, Bernard Allison, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Koko Taylor, and Shemekia Copeland. Tony Campanella was the perfect choice to be the first artist signed to the newly launched Gulf Coast Records.
2016 Blues Music Award Winner Billy Price first attracted national attention during his three-year association with guitarist Roy Buchanan. Price is the vocalist on two of Buchanan's LPs, That's What I'm Here For and Live Stock. Since then, with the Keystone Rhythm Band, the Billy Price Band, and solo projects, Billy Price has recorded and released a total of 16 albums, CDs, and DVDs. In April 2016, he was officially recognized and inducted as a Pittsburgh Rock ’n Roll Legend at an award ceremony.
Price’s album This Time for Real, with the late Chicago soul singer Otis Clay, received a 2016 Blues Music Award in the category of Best Soul Blues Album of 2015.
His latest album Reckoning, produced by Kid Andersen at Greaseland Studios has been nominated for a 2019 Blues Music Award in the category of Best Soul Blues Album of 2018.
Guy Hale and Mike Zito, founders of Gulf Coast Records, have both been long-time fans of soul blues singer Billy Price. Needless to say, we jumped at the opportunity to sign Billy to our label and we are excited to add him to our growing roster of artists.
Photo credit: Christopher Myers
The proven ones
It’s one thing to claim you are “proven,” it’s quite another to have the credentials to back it up. Comprised of five of the most formidable musicians on the blues scene today — guitarist Kid Ramos, vocalist Brian Templeton, keyboardist Anthony Geraci, bassist Willie J. Campbell and drummer Jimi Bott — the band has collectively amassed a slew of accomplishments; dozens of awards won, decades of years playing top-notch music, hundreds of recordings, thousands of hours on the road, and millions of fans worldwide. These five musicians have proven their worth to the world over decades of hard work.
The Proven Ones upcoming album, You Ain’t Done, expands the blues-rock template initially established with their debut effort, Wild Again. The latter garnered a 2019 Blues Music Award Nomination from the Blues Foundation for Best Contemporary Blues Recording and also brought Campbell, Geraci, and Bott individual nominations as well.
The upcoming album finds the band expanding their musical limits and making an even bolder statement. Produced, mixed, and engineered by Bott, and coproduced by the equally legendary Mike Zito, it was recorded at Dockside Studio in Maurice, LA (with additional recording at Roseleaf Recording in Portland, OR and Rear Window in Brookline, MA) and features songwriting contributions from each musician in the band.
“We wanted to stretch the boundaries for this record” Templeton explains. “For the most part we are all known as blues musicians, and rightly so, but we love many styles and naturally want to indulge in them as well. I think we’ve accomplished that with this record. There’s rock, soul, country, some Latin influence, a bit of pop, and, dare I say a punk vibe in parts as well. I believe it’s going to break down a few walls.”
That’s evident at the outset, the album starts with a needle drop and a psychedelic preamble to the rockin’ and robust song “Get Love.” The assertive stomp of “Gone to Stay,” “Already Gone,” and “You Ain’t Done” follow suit, with the latter recalling the rock steady groove of bands like Free and Bad Company. There are other, subtler, touches gracing the album as well: the heart-warming “Whom My Soul Loves,” which features a searing lead vocal from special guest Ruthie Foster, and the emphatic yet embracing ballad “Milinda.”
Still, the most touching tune on the album, and the one that resonates in particular with its songwriter, Jimi Bott, is “She’ll Never Know.” Based on a poem written by his sister to her infant daughter, it reflects a very personal perspective.
“When my sister died from substance abuse and mental illness in 2008, she and my niece had not spoken in years; they were estranged, and their rocky relationship was never resolved. The chorus I wrote was my hope of what my sister may have been feeling as she watched from the sidelines while her daughter grew up and became extremely successful. The song captures the melancholy that she was never able to share in or be a part of her daughter’s life. It is, for me, about a mother's love and regret but it can be about so many things to any parent who has been separated from their child for whatever reason.”
Members of TPO hail from bands such as The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Radio Kings, The Mannish Boys, and Sugar Ray and the Bluetones. The Proven Ones can claim credits on literally hundreds of recordings. They have shared the spotlight with innumerable world class musicians at major music venues across the globe. Together, they make for a potent force all their own. Vivascene declared, “The familiarity between these musicians breeds a feeling of comfortability and a palpable camaraderie… that enhances each and every note they play.” Individually, their respective resumes place them in the upper echelon of contemporary blues players.
Kid Ramos is a recipient of The Orange County (CA) Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in addition to 14 Blues Music Award nominations. He produced legendary pianist Floyd Dixon’s final recording as well as the accompanying documentary and has also appeared on numerous movie soundtracks.
Brian Templeton commands over 40 years as a stalwart presence as part of Boston’s formidable music scene. His credits include the legendary band the Radio Kings and the Original House of Blues Blue Monday Band, as well as collaborations with such notables as Jerry Portnoy, Sonny Rhodes, James Cotton, and Otis Grand.
Anthony Geraci is an original member of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones and Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters and has appeared on over 40 recordings. He received a Grammy Nomination for his album Super Harps. He also boasts numerous Blues Music Award nominations, including the Pinetop Perkins Piano Award five years in a row and an unprecedented 6 personal Blues Music Award Nominations in 2019. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2016 with Sugar Ray and the Bluetones.
Willie J. Campbell has performed with an all-star list of bands and individuals, among them The Fabulous Thunderbirds and The Mannish Boys and has recorded with such luminaries as Sugaray Rayford, Smokin’ Joe Kubek, and Cheech and Chong. He has been nominated by the Blues Foundation for Best Instrumentalist 6 times.
Jimi Bott is widely known as one of the world’s best drummers. He has been nominated by the Blues Foundation for Best Instrumentalist an amazing 20 times - finally winning the Blues Music Award in 2015. He was also inducted into the Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame in 2009 after winning the award for 12 consecutive years. The award is now named after him. He has been on over 100 recordings, lives in Portland, OR where he owns and operates Roseleaf Recording Studio.
Jimmy Carpenter, saxophonist, singer-songwriter, and arranger, began his musical journey over 35 years ago. In the '80s, he toured the east coast with the renegade blues band, The Alka-Phonics, in the ’90s with the blues-rock band The Believers, with whom he learned about the music business. Over the years, Jimmy has toured internationally with Tinsley Ellis, Jimmy Thackery, Walter Wolfman Washington, Eric Lindell, and others. In 2012 Jimmy joined Mike Zito, his long-time friend and musical cohort, and recorded and toured as a member of Mike Zito and the Wheel. In addition to touring nationally & internationally, Jimmy has written, arranged and recorded the horns for many artists, and has gained a reputation as a master Blues, Rock-n-Roll and R&B saxophonist. Jimmy has also released three solo albums: Toiling in Obscurity, (2008); Walk Away (Vizztone 2014), and Jimmy Carpenter Plays the Blues (Vizztone 2017). After many years in New Orleans, he currently lives in Las Vegas with his partner in crime and musical inspiration, Ms. Carrie Stowers. In addition to leading his own band and playing with numerous others, he is the Musical Director for the Big Blues Bender, and leader of the Bender Brass, The Bender’s house band. He is the current president of the Las Vegas Blues Society, and in 2019 was nominated for a Blues Music Award, his 4th for Best Instrumentalist/Horn.
Sayer & Joyce
Award winning Charlotte Joyce has been a professional singer for all her working life and is vocal coach and choir leader to many other professional singers. She has won awards for her songwriting & was inaugural winner of the Acoustic Guitarist Of The Year in Guitarist Magazine. Charlotte was also runner up in the keyboard category in the 2014 British Blues Awards. Holding professional qualifications, not to mention an unmistakable talent for both singing and keyboard, Charlotte had been Ron’s ‘right hand man’ for years in the Ron Sayer Band. She provided backing vocals on Better Side (2011) in addition to dueting with Ron on ‘My Mother In Law’ from the album. Charlotte also co-wrote the British Blues Award nominated album Hard To Please, taking vocal duties on half the album. She has worked with/supported the likes of Paul Jones, Dr. Feelgood, Clem Curtis, Jo Harman & Joanne Shaw Taylor.
Ron Sayer Jr.
Ron Sayer Jr. is the consummate ‘Guitarist’s guitarist’. As a trained music teacher having influenced the learning curves of the likes of Oli Brown, Sol Philcox, The Sharps & Mark Howes of Dove & Boweevil he’s now a mainstay on the UK blues circuit. He was nominated for no less than four awards in the British Blues Awards in 2013 in the album ‘Better Side’, band, song ‘Don’t Make Me Stay’ and guitarist categories walking away with runner-up in band of the year, he also co-wrote Oli Brown’s third album ‘Here I Am’ and won another British Blues Award for co-writing the title track. He was voted Guitarist Of The Year by Guitarist Magazine, was voted 4th Best Bassist in Blues Matters Magazine and has a degree in classical music to boot. He has worked with/supported Buddy Guy, John Mayall, Matt Schofield, Nine Below Zero, Ten Years After, Robin Trower among others.
Their 1978 Capitol press release read, "LeRoux takes its name from the Cajun French term for the thick and hearty gravy base that's used to make a gumbo." LeRoux's eponymous first album was a musical gumbo that blended various instruments and music arrangements into a spicy, mouth-watering southern rock sound. In fact, their Southern anthem 'New Orleans Ladies',voted Song of the Century by Gambit Magazine, simmered with the laid-back feel of the "Big Easy," evoking images of Bourbon Street and the bayou.
Following the success of the first album, the group released Keep The Fire Burning in 1979 and UP in 1980. In 1981, LeRoux recorded Last Safe Place, which became the bands highest charting album. Hits spawned from this recording included 'Addicted' (#3 Mainstream Rock), 'Nobody Said It Was Easy' (#18 Hot 100), and 'Last Safe Place' (#77 Hot 100). The band completed their fifth album in 1983, So Fired Up.
This era marked the advent of MTV and LeRoux was in the forefront filming several videos that made their debut on that music channel. In addition, LeRoux performed on Solid Gold, The Midnight Special and Don Kirchner's Rock Concert, the late night television music shows that were so popular at that time.
Over the years, LeRoux enjoyed performing with many of classic rocks' greatest bands including The Allman Brothers, Wet Willie, Journey, Kansas, Heart, The Doobie Brothers, Charlie Daniels, Foreigner, Marshall Tucker, The Outlaws, ZZ Top and many, many more.
LeRoux joined Tab Benoit in 2007 to record his albums, Brother to The Blues and Power of The Pontchartrain. Brother to The Blues earned Benoit a Grammy nomination. The following year, the band joined Tab for a live album, Night Train to Nashville, recorded live in Nashville, TN.
The band, now with more energy and drive to perform than ever, completed a contemporary blues album entitled, One of Those Days in March 2020. While LeRoux enjoys performing the fan favorites, the music from the new album is fresh and original, but still maintains all the spice and flavor that made LeRoux a Southern Rock classic.
LeRoux was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame as their 50th inductee.
Inspired by the variety and abundance of music in her parents’ collection, it makes sense that her own music is peppered with hints of R&B, soul, country, gospel, hip-hop, and rock-n-roll. Make no mistake; however, Kat Riggins is undeniably a BLUES WOMAN! She travels the world with the sole mission of keeping the blues alive and thriving through her Blues Revival Movement.
Kat aims to awaken the masses and introduce them to the sincerity behind blues music. “It’s about the raw emotion in every note”, exclaims Kat Riggins as she attempts to describe her love of the genre. Backed by a dynamic band, Kat invokes said emotion through high energy soul shakers as well as heart breaking ballads. During a meet and greet after a sold out show in Belgium, a fan once jokingly asked Kat if ever there was a time she “phoned it in” to avoid ending up exhausted, sweaty and bruised from the tambourine… “If I can move someone to feel what I feel when I sing a song, then it's all worth it", said the Miami born singer-songwriter.
“The diminutive Ms. Riggins may be small in stature, but she’s blessed with a powerhouse voice that will grab listeners.” – Graham Clarke
She has been vocally compared to Koko Taylor, Etta James and Tina Turner to name a few. While obviously influenced by those icons, Mrs. Riggins has a voice and delivery all her own. Full of power, rasp and grit she can belt out one of her contemporary blues originals one minute, then deliver a tender, sultry standard the next. She does this all while making each person in her audience feel as if she is speaking directly to them. Blues Revivals are interactive and personal no matter how large the crowd. This intimacy is what makes every Blues Revival a memorable experience…not only for the audience, but for Kat.
“A petite vocalist with a potent delivery and electrifying voice, Kat Riggins holds nothing back…”- Blues Blast Magazine
Photo by Wendy Turner
“Mark is one of the best blues-rock artists to come along in years. With great singing/song- writing and guitar playing, he reminds me of everyone from Albert Collins to Stevie Ray to Carlos Santana. Hell, I even heard a couple of my licks in there!” — Dickey Betts
Deep Dark Demon, the 7th cd from Mark May was released on July 17, 2020 on Gulf Coast Records. Mark’s last release the highly acclaimed album Blues Heaven hit #6 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart and remained there for 5 weeks. To describe some artist’s music with one word would be easy but to do that with Mark May’s music would be impossible. But there’s one thing for sure, it’s all dripping with his rich love for the blues. His astonishing live shows featuring dynamic twin leads and dual harmony guitar work are the perfect complement to Mark’s smooth vocals. For over 20 years, Mark has made a name for himself in the Texas blues scene and has been perfecting his craft performing at blues clubs, bars, and festivals. The Mark May Band has performed at numerous festivals across the country including Telluride Blues and Brews, Mississippi Valley Blues Fest, King Biscuit, Tremblant International Blues Festival, Dallas International Guitar Show, Chenango Blues Festival, and many more. Mark May also had the opportunity to be the opening act for The Allman Brothers Band on their 1997/98 Amphitheater tour and went on to join up with ABB guitarist Dickey Betts and his band Great Southern for several tours and an album. He has also been featured in Blues Review, Guitar Player, Guitar World, Vintage Guitar, Tone Quest and other major publications.
Photo by: Norma Touchette
"Kevin Burt has been a force for years and is finally getting the International recognition he so deeply deserves. His voice is commanding and soulful and his songs are honest and from the heart.” — Mike Zito
For more than 25 years, Kevin Burt has been electrifying audiences throughout the Midwest dispelling the myth that true blues has no roots in Iowa. His soul-inspired presentation is unique which consistently gets him compared to a range of artists like Bill Withers and Aaron Neville, with the ability to build an audience rapport that has been compared to B.B. King. Kevin is a self-taught musician (vocals, harmonica, and guitar) whose smooth, warm vocal presentation sets a mood of relaxed exhilaration, with a welcome mixture of serious music and infectious humor audiences of all ages seem to enjoy. His voice and presence are powerful. His unique delivery ranges from the sweetest, fullest, juiciest come-on to the most playful growl.
Kevin Burt has won many awards and played many festivals both solo and with his band. In 2018, Kevin “B.F.” Burt absolutely crushed it at the Blues Foundations 34th International Blues Challenge (IBC) taking home top honors in three categories. Kevin won first place Solo/Duo, the Cigar Box Guitar Award recognizing him as the best guitar player in the Solo/Duo category, and the Lee Oskar Award for Best Harmonica Player. Kevin was among 235 bands & solo/duo acts from around the world entered into the 5-day event on Beale Street. In 2019, Kevin Burt was nominated for a Blues Music Award for his debut album Heartland And Soul (Best Emerging Artist Album) and was inducted in the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame.
Dave Kalz and Gulf Coast Records founder/co-owner Mike Zito met years ago in their hometown of St. Louis, so, it was only fitting for them to return to their roots and record Dave’s debut album on Gulf Coast Records at Sawhorse Studios in St. Louis. “I've known Dave Kalz for 30 years,” said Mike Zito in making the announcement. “He is an inspired guitarist and musician full of heart and soul.”
From 1998-2000 and 2005, Dave Kalz was a founding member of Devon Allman’s Honeytribe, which toured as the opening act for Devon’s father, Gregg Allman, and also performed shows with The Allman Brothers Band, Dickey Betts, Chuck Berry, Little Feat, Molly Hatchet, Night Ranger, Gregg Rolie and many others.
In 2018, Dave formed Anthology – an Allman Brothers Tribute band. It featured former members of Gregg Allman’s 1978 touring band, Danny Liston and Richard Steltenpohl (also founding members of Mama’s Pride), Mike Zito, the late Grammy Award-winner Yonrico Scott, formerly of Derek Trucks Band and Royal Southern Brotherhood, James Jackson (George Benson, Level 42), and Tom Denman (formerly of Mama’s Pride).
The 11 all-original songs on Relish were produced by Mike Zito and feature both Kalz and his regular band, augmented by special guests, including Zito, himself. The lineup includes: Dave Kalz - guitars and vocals; Greg Hulub - bass guitar and backup vocals; Kevin McDonald – drums; Mike Zito - slide guitar on “Werewolf Blues,” guitar on “Playing the Blues with My Friends;” Tony Campanella - guitar on “Playing the Blues with My Friends;” and Lewis Stephens - keyboards on “Mexico.”
"When I first met Mike Zito, he was working at Metro Guitar Shop in St. Louis and playing in a country band with a DJ from a popular St. Louis radio station,” recalls Dave Kalz. “I was playing in a St. Louis band that had become very popular on a local level. Mike and I immediately hit it off. We heard a lot of the same tones in our heads and listened to a lot of the same music; we saw the world from similar points of view.....and we shared a love for Fender Telecasters. We've been friends ever since, and when I knew I was going to put out this record, I wanted to do it with Mike. It was never a question of ‘if,’ just a question of ‘when.’”
Dave Kalz began playing music in St. Louis but later moved to the Milwaukee area, where he now lives. “After the original music scene and the downtown night life in St. Louis partially collapsed, I stuck it out for another decade or so. However, I recently moved to the Milwaukee area - which is of course mighty close to Chicago. We live right between Milwaukee and Madison. Some things about downtown Milwaukee remind me of the old days in St. Louis. Their downtown is very robust and active, and people are so nice and polite up in the northern Midwest. It's an easy part of the country to make new friends, and Chicago has a wealth of great blues and jazz. I still love St. Louis and visit there as often as I can. Some of my favorite venues in the country are still in the city of St. Louis.”
Dave Kalz has been in love with music from the start. “When I was 4-5 years old, I used to take my grandparent's old records, spin them in a circle, and acting like my finger was the needle, I would make up my own songs.... singing my little heart out,” he says. “When I was 6 years old, I had an older cousin who turned me on to Led Zeppelin's first album, 10 Years After's Ssssh, and a whole host of records by B.B. King. By the time I was in 6th grade, I was playing air guitar on a wooden yard stick to records by Little Feat, the Allman Brothers, and Foghat. I was already knee deep in the swampier blues rock stuff. When I finally picked up a guitar as a teenager, I started learning how to form solos by playing along with Live at Fillmore East by the Allman Brothers and Waiting on Columbus by Little Feat. My world changed when I bought Deguello by ZZ Top, and then changed again when I first heard Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan. But when I turned 21, and I saw Albert Collins play at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis, and the Arc Angels at the same venue not too long after that, everything I thought about guitar tones changed. It was like someone lifted a blanket off of the guitar amp in my head, and suddenly, I knew what I wanted out of my fingers, my guitar, and my amp.
“My first trip to New Orleans, followed by a trip to the New Mexico and Arizona deserts changed how I would write and hear the music in my head forever. It became more spiritual.... but also more nasty and swampy. I wanted my guitar to emote sounds that evoked grit and grease, but with a hint of dark mystery, intrigue. And I wanted it to sound like a big Mack Truck trying to fit down a tight back alley, squeezing its way through as it pushed everything around it. Everything I do now goes back to that. That's the sound that has been in my head ever since.”
Photo by: Danya Artimisi
Photo by: Scott Lukes
Mike Zito is one of the most lauded artists in the contemporary blues arena today and rightfully so, but for him, the thing that counts the most is maintaining his honesty, authenticity and integrity. Those are the qualities that have steered Zito’s career since the beginning and continue to define every effort he’s offered since.
“I have nothing to hide; it seems my honesty is what people relate to most,” he once told Vintage Guitar magazine. “Anders (Osborne) told me early on, ‘If you don’t believe what you’re singing, you’ll never be a good singer.’ I try not to write fluff; I try to make every word count.”
Naturally, patience and perseverance have been Zito’s stock and trade since the beginning. He began playing guitar at the age of five, and by the time he reached his late teens, he was already a fixture on the local St. Louis music scene. He initially released his music independently and then signed with Eclecto Groove Records in 2008. “Pearl River,” the title track of his 2009 album for the label, won Song of the Year at the Blues Music Awards and marked his first collaboration with Cyril Neville, with whom he’d later work in the Royal Southern Brotherhood. A steady succession of critically acclaimed albums followed, culminating in 2011’s Greyhound, which was nominated for Best Rock Blues Album at that year’s Blue Music Awards ceremony in Memphis. Two years later, he signed with Ruf Records and released Gone to Texas, the story of how he gained his sobriety, offered an emotional homage to the state that left an indelible imprint on his entire life. It also marked the debut of his band, The Wheel.
From 2010 to 2014, Zito also played an integral role in the super group of sorts, Royal Southern Brotherhood. The group released two albums and a DVD, Songs from the Road – Live in Germany, winner of the year’s Blues Music Award for Best DVD. He also made his mark behind the boards by producing albums for Samantha Fish, Albert Castiglia, Ally Venable, Jeremiah Johnson, Jimmy Carpenter, and many others.
Meanwhile, the accolades kept coming. His album, Make Blues Not War, debuted on the Billboard Blues Album Chart at number one and garnered him recognition as the 2018 Rock Blues Artist of the Year at the Blues Music Awards. First Class Life followed suit, also entering the charts at number one. Alternate Root magazine insisted that “The First Class Life that Mike Zito titles his upcoming album can be heard in the sweet sound of Blue Soul rising like heat waves from his guitar and his vocal.” American Blues Scene said, “Mike Zito’s return to the blues is, in a word, triumphant!” No Depression declared, “Once again, Zito has delivered the goods, a first class package with no postage due.”
In 2019, Zito released a tribute album of fellow St. Louis native and rock ‘n’ roll legend, Chuck Berry, and featured an array of guest guitarists ranging from Joe Bonamassa, Walter Trout and Eric Gales, to Robben Ford, Luther Dickinson and Sonny Landreth, as well as Berry’s own grandson. Rock ’n Roll: A Tribute to Chuck Berry debuted on the Billboard Blues Album Chart at number 1 and remained on the chart for several weeks. Rock ’N Roll won the Blues Music Award for Blues Rock Album of the year and Mike also received the Blues Music Award for Blues Rock artist.
At about the same time, Mike Zito partnered with Guy Hale to form the new record label Gulf Coast Records. Gulf Coast Records is based in Nederland, TX with a focus on Regional Roots, Blues and Americana genres. The mutual passion of the founders is to lift up artists and help them get their music out to the world.
Quarantine Blues, was recorded during the heart of the coronavirus pandemic and served as a healing love letter to his fans around the world that heralded better days ahead if we’d all just stick together. In 2021, Mike released Resurrection on his record label Gulf Coast Records. The new disc was produced by the celebrated Grammy-winner David Z, best known for his long-standing work with Prince, and who has contributed to albums by Etta James, Billy Idol, BoDeans, Buddy Guy and John Mayall, among many others.
“I have songs in me and musical ideas all of the time,” volunteers Mike Zito about the new album’s genesis. “I write what I can, when I can and try to save it all for posterity. Some of the songs are just songs and they don’t always have meaning for me, and some of them become very personal. For me to sing songs and feel them with real emotion, they need to be somewhat personal. Even songs I did not write, I need to feel they explain a part of my thinking or how I am feeling about love, sex, life, death, the world…. Resurrection is an album of feelings, emotions, and is very personal. The title track is how I once almost lost my love, but it came back stronger than ever. I have had this song in me for years, but it only makes sense now to share it with the world. After the year we have had on planet Earth, I believe we all need a rebirth. This rebirth has given me an opportunity to be who I want to be musically and artistically.”
Resurrection was a critic and fan favorite and later won the Blues Music Award for the 2022 Blues Rock Album of the year.
In 2022, Zito released the double live album Blues for the Southside. Recorded on November 26, 2021, at the Old Rock House in St. Louis, Missouri, and produced by Mike Zito, Blues for the Southside showcases Zito (guitar, vocals) and his stellar band in full fury with special guests Tony Campanella, Dave Kalz and guitar wizard Eric Gales. After the release of Blues for the Southside, Zito joined forces with Gulf Coast Records label mate Albert Castiglia and created the Blood Brothers tour.
Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Tito Jackson's poetic lyrics, irrepressible vocals, and evocative musicianship are a faint reflection of the remarkable gifts that characterize Gary, Indiana's native son.
Born Toriano Adaryll Jackson, Tito has spent his entire life enchanting music lovers with soulful harmonies interwoven with curvaceous rhythms as a member of Motown’s greatest discovery, The Jackson 5, and presently as a multi-faceted solo artist. Tito’s unyielding passion for blues, R&B, pop, and other music forms is the secret to his boundless energy and rare achievements in the ever-changing entertainment spectrum.
In 1962, before the Jackson 5 and the Jacksons, Tito performed in a local group called The Jackson Brothers. After competing and winning local talent shows in and around Gary, the precocious brothers were victorious again on the most prestigious amateur stage of all — Manhattan’s Apollo Theater. In that same year Tito and his brothers made their first studio recording (local label), titled “Big Boy.” Not only did it turn out to be a local hit, but it set the stage for a partnership with Motown Records (1969) and subsequent appearances on the top-rated Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, Soul Train, and later, their own primetime television series in 1976, on CBS. In addition to this, Tito and his brothers’ soaring popularity with America’s youth was so captivating that they were captioned in a Saturday morning, ABC TV animation series.
Tito and his brothers signed with Epic Records and officially came under a new name, The Jacksons, in 1976. In 1978 he co-wrote the songs “Everybody,” “Destiny,” and “Push Away” for his new record label. As the group The Jackson’s, including Tito, they self-produced the Destiny album. Later, for the Victory album Tito produced, wrote, and sang on “We Can Change The World,” which was featured on their popular Victory Tour.
Photo by: Laura Carbone
A father of three men (Taj, Taryll, and TJ), known to the music world as 3T, Tito works closely with his sons. This is consistent with the fine direction that he received from his loving mother Katherine and his caring father Joe. In addition to working with sisters Janet, Rebbie, and La Toya, Tito has worked with countless fine musicians, singers, and producers, such as the preeminent production team of Gamble & Huff, LA Reid & Baby Face, and the versatile Howard Hewitt.
One of the performing highlights of the remarkable career of Tito Jackson is the unforgettable reunion performance on one of history's most watched television specials, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever (1983). The show signaled a pivotal point in his dazzling career and an auspicious focus on likely the greatest performer to ever grace a stage, Michael Jackson. In 1997 Tito and his brothers were ceremonially honored as inductees of the well-respected Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
In September 2001, nearly 17 years after their last performance together, all six Jackson brothers reunited for two performances at Madison Square Garden in New York for a 30th anniversary special commemorating Michael's solo career.
Tito’s initial success with the recording masterpieces “I Want You Back,” “Never Can Say Goodbye”, “I’ll Be There,” (best selling single in Motown’s history), and other mega-hits is the genesis of an indefatigable trek into modern musical immortality. Tito Jackson’s eclectic musical arrow is aimed in the direction of diverse genres, R&B, blues, and pop. And at this juncture, Tito plans a series of recording ventures that will feature a caravan of styles and by doing this, fans around the globe will experience the true essence of Tito Jackson as a premier solo artist and as one of music industries’ group icons. Tito also rocks the world through various riveting live shows with his brothers, his own band and the BB King Blues Band.
The measure of Tito Jackson’s influence can be best captured by expressions such as these: “One of the kindest, more pleasant people in show business,” said a major entertainment publicist. His brother Michael also had this to say about him, “Tito is very quiet and soft, but can be really strong when necessary. He’s always there when we need him and manages to project an inner calm which is vital within a family unit". Those statements have proven to be consistently true through the ups and downs of the exciting but rigorous show business lifestyle. As an international artist, the demure Tito has garnered great respect from his peers and fans alike. His emphasis on fairness and loyalty in the music business community is a hallmark of his aplomb and selfless style.
Tito’s love of music can be transcended only by his undying love of God, family, and friends. Tito’s mark on music history and the rich legacy that he established is one that has stood the test of time and is one that will flourish for as long as there is a song to sing!
ricci / krown
Jason Ricci is one of the best and most imitated blues harmonica players of the 21st century. He picked up the instrument as a teenager when he started playing in a punk rock band. His journey started in earnest when he watched and later was mentored by legendary harmonica player Pat Ramsey in Memphis. As Ricci gigged and grew as a player he found work and support from the southern blues community. He lived and played with Junior and David Kimbrough in Mississippi and then worked as a sideman with Big Al and The Heavyweights for more than a year. In the late ‘90s, he formed Jason Ricci and New Blood, a band that toured around the world for more than a decade and released critically praised albums like Done with the Devil and Rocket Number 9. Ricci’s latest chapter is the New Orleans band Jason Ricci and The Bad Kind, which is influenced by the sounds of New Orleans and artists like The Meters and Doctor John. What defines Jason Ricci as an artist is the fearlessness with which he approaches his instrument and music and translates the hardships we all face into unforgettable music.
Joe Krown is a New Orleans-styled piano and Hammond-endorsed B-3 player. He held the keyboard chair with Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown & Gate’s Express from 1992 until Gatemouth's passing in the fall of 2005. Joe is featured on the chart topping Gatemouth albums The Man, Gate Swings, American Music Texas Style and Gate's final studio recording, Back to Bogalusa. Joe's played the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival every year since 2001 and the French Quarter Festival every year since 1998. Along with touring all over the U.S. and the world as a solo artist or with one of his bands, he is currently performing as the organ/piano player for the multi-award-winning Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, and played on Shepherd’s The Traveler and Straight to You Live albums. Krown has also toured with Mavis Staples and Allen Toussaint, among many others, as well as recorded a dozen of his own albums. In addition, Krown has won multiple local New Orleans “Big Easy” and “Offbeat” awards.
“Shake the Roots is basically a mixtape of our influences with sounds that make us happy and stories about our life together,” says explosive guitarist Gino Matteo, one-half of the duo along with powerhouse singer Jade Bennett. “We wanted to make a record grounded in blues, soul and funk with zero restrictions and this is what came out when we ‘shook the roots.’ We call it ‘dirtfunk and desert soul.’ I feel blessed to be writing and playing music in this band with Jade. She can sing anything and her tone is my favorite sound."
The Bennett Matteo Band (BMB) is extremely improvisational, and while having their feet planted in roots music, BMB is a breath of fresh air to the music world. BMB’s experimentation has made every show an experience.
Gino Matteo is carving the spot he deserves as a “force of nature” in the roots world. A sensational guitarist, songwriter and powerfully emotional live performer, he empowered the Sugaray Rayford hit machine for nearly a decade. Gino has destroyed countless audiences in the US and abroad with his powerful wit, gut ripping playing, and incredibly gifted musicianship.
His explosive, spontaneous, and original live show stands with the most legendary of blues players. Gino, along with the gutsy soul-power vocals of his lovely and talented wife Jade Bennett, have been heating up the blues circuit across the western US and internationally. This hard charging dream team brings a raw and soulful interpretation to roots music, moving it forward progressively and creatively.
Bennett and Matteo met in 2010 in Southern California at a gig. Gino ended up sitting in with Jade and once she started singing, he knew they had to play together. They almost immediately moved in together and started writing music while Gino toured with Sugaray Rayford, all the while keeping a catalog of music going with Jade. BMB wouldn't be formed for nearly a decade, as Gino's tour schedule became more hectic.
They played shows together anytime Gino was in town and Jade joined the Sugaray Rayford Band on tour as a backup singer a number of times. Over time, through touring and home life, Jade and Gino decided to go nomad and live full time off-grid. They decided the only thing they wanted to do was play music and live on their own terms. That dream became a reality as COVID swept the world.
In 2020, just before the pandemic hit, they had an album done, but it went on the shelf as the initial label they were signed to deemed it not bluesy enough and that they didn't know where to put it. That's when the record's co-producer and BMB confidant Kid Andersen decided to pitch BMB to Mike Zito's Gulf Coast Records, who loved the album and are releasing it. It not being standard blues became a selling point and not a hindrance. The album is a collective of their experiences.
BMB's core principle is authenticity and lack of pretentiousness whenever possible.
Photo by: Chris Filmore
Eric Demmer began his professional career in the early 1980s as a roadie for a Texas dancehall band. “During that time, I became a sound engineer working for sound companies; and in 1989, I was the sound engineer on Clint Black’s ‘Killing Time’ tour,” he recalls. After I left the tour, I decided to devote my time to playing sax full-time. In 1993, I got the call to play with the legendary guitarist, Clarence ‘Gatemouth Brown,’ and was a member of ‘Gate’s’ band until his death in 2005. One of my career highlights while playing with ‘Gate’ was performing on Eric Clapton’s, ‘From the Cradle’ Tour. Also, I was invited by Dickey Betts to perform with The Allman Brothers Band, and I had the privilege of performing with many world-class artists such as Johnny Clyde Copeland, B.B. King, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Buddy Guy, Johnnie Johnson, Les Paul, Billy Gibbons, and many more. In 2016, I played shows with Mike Zito; and in 2018, I started performing with guitarist Mike Zito’s Big Blues Band. After playing with Mike and so many other great artists, I had the yearning to put out my own album and share my heartfelt experiences. The album, So Fine, tells the story of my relationships throughout my personal and musical experiences. “
In recent years, in addition to playing with award-winning blues guitarist, Mike Zito, Eric’s horn work graced albums by The BB King Blues Band, featuring Tito Jackson of the Jackson 5. In addition to playing saxophone, Eric produced a CD for The BB King Blues Band that was released in 2019; also performed on Mike Zito’s Resurrection album and Tito Jackson’s recent CD, Under Your Spell, which were both released in 2021 on Gulf Coast Records. When he’s not touring with other artists, Eric also tours with his own band. He describes his sound as “high-energy blues with a mix of funk and rock-n-roll.” Eric combines a variety of musical styles and influences while reminding everyone that “…the real thing comes from the heart and soul.”
Gulf Coast Records announces the signing of acclaimed Chicago blues guitar great Joanna Connor, and will release her label debut CD in the Spring of 2023. Connor will be going into the studio in December to record the new album. She’ll be recording with her “Wrecking Crew 22” band that includes: Joanna Connor - guitar and vocals; Shaun Gotti Calloway – bass; Dan Souvigny – guitar and keys; Curtis Moore Jr. – keys; and Jason J Roc Edwards - drums and vocals. Several special guests on the sessions will be announced at a later date.
“I’ve been a fan of Joanna Connor for a long time and it’s just incredible that she’s working with our label,” Gulf Coast label head Mike Zito said in making the announcement. “Joanna Connor is one of the greats in contemporary blues and has been for over thirty years. She has a sound and a feel that is immediately recognizable and magical.”
“I’ve had some wonderful labels in the past, but signing with Gulf Coast feels like I’m joining a family,” said Joanna Connor. “I’m also extremely excited for my new band to bring our music to the world. Now we have found the home base to launch it from.”
Looking more in-person like a woman who could be your next door neighbor rather than the scorching blues rock guitar goddess that she is, Joanna Connor is an atypical and unassuming guitar heroine who absolutely shreds or tenderly caresses notes out of a Gibson Les Paul. Those who are in the know rave about a musician who has played behind Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Otis Rush and Luther Allison; and shared stages with the likes of Jimmy Page, Robben Ford, Robert Cray, the Doobie Brothers, Etta James and numerous other legends. Having her performances passed along on social media by heavy hitters Slash, Bootsy Collins, Vernon Reed and others only gives credence to her immense and intriguing talents.
Photo by: Maryam Wilcher
Joanna Connor was born in Brooklyn, New York, raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, and after beginning her career there at the age of 17, packed a suitcase, a Fender Twin Amp, a guitar and bought a bus ticket to the Blues Mecca of Chicago, where her goal was to be in a cracking blues band learning from the best . A mere month after moving to the Windy City, Delta blues heavyweight Johnny Littlejohn hired her. A few months after that, Dion Payton enlisted her to be a part of his 43rd Street Blues Band, where they held residencies at the hallowed Checkerboard Lounge and the Kingston Mines blues clubs, and were the backing band behind every major talent in the city. Joanna went on to tour with sax great AC Reed before starting her own band at the urging of the Kingston Mines owner. Blind Pig Records signed Joanna in 1989 and released several records on her before she went on to become the second artist to sign with Ruf Records; subsequently releasing many records for the German-based label, which led to a decade of touring throughout Europe.
In 2002, The House of Blues in Chicago offered Joanna and her band a weekly residency, and with her additional residency at the Kingston Mines, Connor made the decision to come off the road touring grind for a while and work locally four nights per week, while raising her two children as a single mom. Joanna also recorded several albums for the highly-respected MC Records during that decade.
In 2019, one of the videos of her fierce guitar work caught the eyes and ears of one of the most prominent guitarists of the modern era -Joe Bonamassa - as well as director Adrian Lynne (Flash Dance, Fatal Attraction). Lynne offered her a scene performing in the movie, Deep Water, starring Ben Affleck. At the same time, Joe Bonamassa and his KTBA Records label gave her the opportunity to make a studio album. Both projects happened right before the COVID 19 epidemic and subsequent lockdown. The KTBA album, 4801 South Indiana, was released in February of 2021 to immense critical acclaim and a number one spot on the Billboard blues chart. The Deep Water film was released on Hulu in March, 2022.
Joanna and her band went right back to work in April of 2021. With a band of young virtuoso musicians she dubbed the “Wrecking Crew 22,” fires were started worldwide on stages everywhere. Joanna reached out to one of her most beloved musicians, Mike Zito and Gulf Coast Records in hopes that this tsunami of musical energy and passion could be unleashed on record, and soon everyone will hear what all the excitement is about.