Two bands... One incredible night of blues! MIKE ZITO Mike has spent over two decades on the run. He grew up in a hard-grafting blue-collar home in St. Louis, but after an early job at a downtown guitar shop exposed him to heavyweights like B.B. King, the Allmans and Eric Clapton (then Joe Pass, Robert Johnson and Blind Willie Johnson), he set out as a working musician. By 1997, Mike had released debut album Blue Room, and seemed to be going places. “The first time you hear yourself,” he recalls, “you think, ‘Wow, that almost sounds like music!’” Then came the bumps in the road. By the post-millennium, alcoholism and drug abuse were threatening to rob Mike of his talent and livelihood: a period starkly addressed on the title track from 2011’s acclaimed “Greyhound” album. “I just couldn’t stop,” he admits. “And a lot of the opportunities that I had back then – they kinda went away.” Thankfully, the epiphany of meeting his beloved wife put Mike on a new path. In 2012, he found fresh inspiration in the A-list lineup of Royal Southern Brotherhood, then struck out with acclaimed solo albums Gone To Texas (2013) and Keep Coming Back (2015). “I have many more hurdles to jump and more goals to strive for,” he says, “but I’m very pleased and thankful with how I’m developing as an artist.” Now comes Make Blues Not War: another step up for this fascinating journeyman. “I’m so proud of this new album,” says Mike. “It’s about the enjoyment I get when I listen to Johnny Winter and Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Luther Allison. Their music makes me happy and reminds why I wanted to play guitar and play the blues. To be free and honest, loud and proud. I hope everyone enjoys listening to this album as much as I enjoyed making it…” DANA FUCHS Dana Fuchs has never dealt in nostalgia. For this questing artist, it’s not about the rearview but the road ahead. The next song. The next session. Tonight’s show and tomorrow’s bus ride. But as Dana sheds her musical skin with her triumphant fourth album Love Lives On, it seems a fitting juncture to rewind the reels and thumb a backstory as compelling as any in rock ‘n’ roll. This life and times doesn’t always make for easy reading. The triumphs are laced by tragedy, ugliness, injustice. But whatever the obstacles, music and love have been the beacons that guide her on. One fateful day, pounding the sidewalks of the Lower East Side, Dana heard the missing puzzle-piece, in the form of Jon Diamond: a heavyweight session guitarist who could already boast credits with Joan Osborne and others. “I was walking by this little club and I heard his guitar from the sidewalk,” she recalls of the musical partnership that flourishes to this day. “I introduced myself to Jon on the break, told him I thought he was great, and that I had come to New York to be a singer. So, he invited me up to sing, and I faked Stormy Monday. Afterwards, he said, ‘You have a good instrument, but you really need to learn what you’re doing’.” After Jon exposed her to his encyclopedic blues vinyl collection, Dana’s astonishing natural vocal prowess took on new depth and nuance. And so they were ready. Together, Jon and Dana hit the Lower East Side’s live circuit like a wrecking ball, holding their own on bills featuring titans like James Cotton and Taj Mahal, and quickly earning a residency at the Red Lion club. Four nights a week, they shook the foundations until 3am, but there was already the sense they could be far more than a rocking covers band. It takes a brave artist to rip it up and start again. But Love Lives On is the best kind of evolution, seeing Dana burst defiant from her darkest days with a sound inspired by the siren call of American soul. Help us welcome this incredible talent to The Flying Monkey this May!