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The Lizzie Rose Music Room presents Mike Zito

originally published: 02/14/2024

The Lizzie Rose Music Room presents Mike Zito

(TUCKERTON, NJ) -- Gulf Coast Records multi-Blues Music Award-winner Mike Zito is set to release his new album, Life Is Hard, on February 23, with a tour to follow in March. The Life is Hard tour stops in Tuckerton, where the Mike Zito Band will be playing at Lizzie Rose Music Room on Tuesday, March 5 (with Regina Bonelli) and Wednesday, March 6 (with Bees Deluxe). Both shows begin at 7:30pm.

Zito recorded his new album in September at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, California, with Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith producing. Both Bonamassa and Smith were involved in the production of Blood Brothers, the critically-acclaimed album Zito recorded with fellow label guitarist Albert Castiglia, which topped both the Billboard and iTunes blues charts after its release in March, 2023. Mike’s first single, “Life is Hard,” the album’s title track, dropped on January 12th.

“Life Is Hard is a complete work of art for me,” says Mike Zito about the new disc. “I believe this is the best album I’ve ever made in my life. My wife Laura and I planned this idea of pouring my heart out in music after her death from cancer. Joe, Josh and the incredible musicians were fully aware of the task at hand. They brought a lot of emotion to the music. I am so proud of this album and I know Laura would be proud as well.”

The even-dozen tracks on Life Is Hard include not only several Mike Zito originals, but also his takes on a wide variety of blues songs written by such contemporaries as Tinsley Ellis, Walter Trout, Tab Benoit and Fred James. Sprinkled in are covers from a diverse assortment of blues/roots music icons, including Little Milton (“Lonely Man”), Stevie Wonder (“Have a Talk with God”) and Reverend Gary Davis (“Death Don’t Have No Mercy”), plus the outside-the-box blues-worthy rendering of the Guess Who classic, “These Eyes.”

The show on March 6th is sold out, but a few tickets remain for the show on March 5th. Tickets are available for purchase online. The Lizzie Rose Music Room is located at 217 East Main Street in Tuckerton, New Jersey.

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Mike Zito’s last Gulf Coast solo album, the double live set, Blues for the Southside (released Feb. 2022), debuted at number one on the Billboard Blues Chart. Recorded in November, 2021, at the Old Rock House in St. Louis, Missouri, and produced by Zito, Blues for the Southside captured Mike (guitar and vocals) and his stellar band in full fury: Matthew Johnson - vocals/drums; Lewis Stephens - piano/organ; Doug Byrkit – vocals/ bass, with special guests including label mate guitarists Tony Campanella and Dave Kalz, plus guitar wizard Eric Gales.

Zito’s last studio album, Resurrection (released July, 2021), contained 11 tracks that not only showcased his strengths as a composer,  but also as an interpreter of other compositions, with scintillating and powerful takes on tunes from JJ Cale (“I’ll Make Love To You”), Eric Clapton (“Presence of the Lord”) and Willie Dixon (“Evil”).  Mike won the 2022 Blues Music Award for “Blues Rock Album” for Resurrection.

The Blood Brothers disc was one of the most-anticipated albums of 2023, with its sales and critical response taking both Zito and Castiglia to new heights in the blues/roots music world, and its ongoing lengthy tour became one of the hottest tickets on the club and festival circuit. The album generated extensive radio airplay around the world, accompanied by universal rave reviews: “…a terrific collaboration.” – American Songwriter; “The universe wants what it wants and, right now, it wants this. Miss it and miss out.” – Rock & Blues Muse; “There was big anticipation that this album would be one of those where one plus one equals better than two. And it does.” – Blues Music Magazine

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.

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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.”

Life is Hard Album Release Tour

March 1 - Hub City Vinyl - Hagerstown, MD

March 2 - Capital One Hall - Tysons, VA

March 3 - Tin Pan - Richmond, VA

March 5 - Lizzie Rose Music Room - Tuckerton, NJ opener Regina Bonelli

March 6 - Lizzie Rose Music Room - Tuckerton, NJ opener Bees Deluxe

March 7 - Iridium - New York City, NY

March 8 - The Music Room - Cape Cod, MA

March 9 - Spire Center for the Performing Arts - Plymouth, MA

March 10 - The 443 Social Club - Syracuse, NY

March 11 & 12 - Fanatics Pub - Lima, NY

March 13 - Mauch Chunk Opera House - Jim Thorpe, PA

March 14 - Elkton Music Hall - Elkton, MD

March 15 - Moondog's - Pittsburgh, PA

March 16 - 31st River City Blues Festival - Marietta, OH

March 17 - Private Event

March 18 - Blues at the Bohm Theatre - Albion, MI

March 20 - Natalie's Grandview - Columbus, OH

March 21 - American Legion Hall - Bradley, IL

March 22 - Delmar Hall - St. Louis, MO

March 23 - Buddy Guy's Legends - Chicago, IL

March 26 - The West Theatre - Duluth, MN

March 27 - Fargo Winter Blues Fetival - Fargo, ND

March 28 - KJ's Hideaway - Saint Paul, MN

March 29 - xBk Live - Des Moines, IA

March 30 - The Blue Note - Columbia, MO



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