Those looking for a high energy, fun and “pretty rockin’” party are in luck, because American guitarist, singer, producer and songwriter Mike Zito is bringing his signature blues sound back to Columbus this week.
Zito, who hails from St. Louis, is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. Wednesday show at Shenanigan’s Bar & Grill, 3808 23rd St. It’s part of his "First Class Life 2019 Summer Tour.”
Zito has made quite the name for himself throughout the years through solo and collaboration recordings, as well as by touring the globe and starting up Gulf Coast Records.
More recently, in May 2018 he took home “Blues Rock Artist of the Year" at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tennessee. Also, his “First Class Life” album reached No. 1 on the National Roots Music Report Top 50 Blues Album Chart. His song "Mama Don't Like No Wah-Wah” also earned a Top-10 Rockin' Blues Tunes of 2018 nod from Rock And Blues Muse with the jam being called “blues and funky fun with some outstanding guitar playing.”
As Shenanigan’s Owner/Operator Long put it, Mike Zito’s performances are a “special treat for blues fans.”
“He’s a worldwide act,” Long said.
Zito has gained more and more fans throughout the years thanks to his international touring schedule. He has performed around the world in London, Canada, Germany and Norway, among other places. But by performing for smaller audiences - such as those in Columbus - Zito said he has the ability to have more intimate conversations with his fans.
The handshakes and signed CDs are a perk to being one of his fans. His fan base continues growing and he said he regularly receives requests to perform in Columbus and Lincoln, adding that 75 percent of his performances are in smaller towns across the U.S. and globe.
Zito writes his own music, from fun-loving numbers that grew out of a joke to more serious pieces. He said he finds inspiration from an array of artists, including Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt and Jimi Hendrix.
Zito’s talent came naturally to him as he worked at a guitar shop as a young adult in St. Louis and experienced hands-on learning. As he played more and more and eventually for audiences, he said he realized that his voice works with different styles such as country and rock ‘n’ roll.
For any aspiring musician, Zito emphasizes to “learn as much as you can,” decide on what you want to do and just do it; “the time is now,” he said. To get better, he encourages aspiring artists to go out and perform for people. Experiencing is the best form of improvement, he noted.
Zito, who has played in Columbus before, said those who attend his concert at Shenanigans can expect a lively and entertaining show full of the songs he has made popular over the course of his 20-plus year career.
Lily Briley is a freelance correspondent for The Columbus Telegram.