After two successful albums, Mike Zito recently departed from the Royal Southern Brotherhood to concentrate on his solo career.
Following on from last year’s excellent Gone to Texas album, Mike Zito and The Wheel has released a superb live album/DVD entitled Songs from the Road on Ruff Records.
Zito’s band, The Wheel, features Mike Zito on guitar/vocals, Scot Sutherland on bass, Jimmy Carpenter on tenor saxophone, and Rob Lee on drums. Mike recently brought The Wheel over to Europe, along with longtime collaborator, Samantha Fish. Zito has produced Fish’s first two albums. The tour included a headline appearance at the Carlisle Blues Festival.
The room was packed and the anticipation was high for Samantha Fish to take the stage, several acts including the excellent Marcus Malone had played the festival earlier in the evening. Backing Fish on stage was Lee and Sutherland from The Wheel. One thing which distinguishes Fish from a lot of the blues artists around these days is her excellent cigar box guitar playing, which the audience in Carlisle were treated to in the form of Sucker Born from her latest album Black Wind Howlin’.
Zito joined Fish on stage for a rocking version of “Go To Hell,” before she slowed it down with a beautiful acoustic cover of The Rolling Stones track, “Dead Flowers.” Fish finished her set with “Black Wind Howlin'” and an excellent cover of the Black Sabbath classic, “War Pigs,” showing of the diversity of her playing and influences. Mike gave us a career spanning set including tracks like “Don’t Break A Leg” and “Rainbow Bridge” from his latest album, Gone To Texas, as well as old favorites like “Pearl River” and “Judgment Day.”
Mike seemed to be enjoying himself so much on stage, leaving the crowd in awe with his playing. This was particularly evident during his superb covers of Freddie King’s “Texas Flyer” and Luther Allison’s “Bad News is Coming,” his solos resulting in rapturous applause from the crowd.
The Wheel are so tight, Jimmy Carpenter’s Sax playing is out of this world, Scot Sutherland grooves while Rob Lee keeps the beat. Jimmy took to the spot light during “Walk Away” from his excellent latest solo album of the same name.
Fish returned to the stage to close out the show and rejoin Zito and The Wheel for an excellent rendition of “Kick Around” from Samantha’s last album. The crowd was left wanting more.
This is not likely to be the last time we see Mike Zito and the Wheel or Samantha Fish on these shores. They are blues rock at its best.