Great Year for Kansas City Blues Scene

I thought I’d coast into this fall by bringing you a retrospective of some of this summer’s sizzling events in the Kansas City Blues scene. A beautiful summer for weather in ol’ KC town, there were plenty of balmy evenings to enjoy a great lineup of blues concerts.

First up, Kansas City’s own Danielle Nicole Schnebelen, perfunctorily known as Danielle Nicole.

Danielle Nicole performed July 11, 2017 at Knuckleheads, opening for The Robert Cray Band. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

Danielle Nicole holds a powerful blues presence as evidenced by her vocals-only performance Tuesday (July 11, 2017) at Knuckleheads where she wow’d an overflow crowd in opening for The Robert Cray Band. Kansas City loves Danielle Nicole and it’s easy to see why – not only is she a riveting guitarist, her vocals hit every note with an emotional barb that hooks her fans into feeling the core message of the lyrics. Plus, she’s beautiful. There’s that.

Danielle Nicole is well-paired with the handsome and talented Brandon Miller who can go toe-to-toe with Danielle in a frenzied instrumental duel – or back up her vocals with harmony on solo acoustic. His smile and good mood contagiously amps up the on-stage vibe between the two, making them one of Kansas City’s great blues combos.

Brandon Miller, left, performed May 6, 2017, with Danielle Nicole, right, for the MerleJam benefit on the Knucklehead’s outdoor stage. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
Brandon Miller played and sang with Danielle Nicole July 11, 2017 at Knucklehead’s where the two were opening for The Robert Cray Band. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair


Life is a Perpetual Luau: Patrick Recob – CD Release Party at Knucklehead’s Saloon

When the Universe conspires to push you into your purpose, you answer the call. It was when the venerable James Harman didn’t take no for an answer that pushed seasoned Kansas City bassist Patrick Recob to get up in front and sing at BB’s Lawnside BBQ one night.

“Nah, James, I ain’t gonna sing no songs.” Recob recalled telling Harman. But Harman wasn’t listening…he was already conspiring, as if an ESP moment had descended upon him – and the scene of Recob’s next career move had just unfolded in front of him. He insisted not only that Recob sing…but also start writing songs and come to California and make a record.

As Recob entertained a crowd at his Perpetual Luau CD release party Oct. 11, 2017 at Knuckleheads Saloon, he provided proof of his songwriting and entertainment chops with diversity that ranged from deep blues in “Dark Night of the Soul” to the love song “We Have Got It Going On.”

Let’s have a listen to how Patrick recalls the Harman encounter (he’s going to follow his story with “Frustration Blues”) from his CD Perpetual Luau:

When an artist writes from the heart, anything and everything can happen. When he pulled out “We Have Got It Going On” – a love song he wrote for his wife, Lisa – Recob rolls out that youthful love feeling, producing a catchy, foot-tapping retro beat reminiscent of the very early blues emergence later termed “Rock and Roll” – stuff that came out the 1950s Sun Records in Memphis with the likes of Kings of Rhythm and Elvis Presley.

Have a listen:

More to come about this artist as we interview him going forward about the distribution of this tasty collection of songs from heart of a true Kansas City bluesman bringing us the pleasure of Perpetual Luau.

Gift of the Grinters: Acres of Happiness at Tonganoxie Farmers’ Sunflower Utopia

Small Town Tonganoxie Family & Friends Set the Pace for Visitors Seeking a Quiet Reprieve

As the cool air of autumn slips through the closing door of summer, plumes of dust rise along a narrow country road just outside the town of Tonganoxie, KS.

Rows of vehicles from distant counties and towns have their turn signals on for the same turn off, pointing their now-dust-powdered grills at a set of gentle slopes plump with thick nubby green stalks shoring up massive heads of bright yellow sunflowers.

The mostly-city-folks who pull into remarkably neat rows of parking in one of the five mowed spots around the sunflower fields, saunter slowly towards various accidental gaps between the yellow-headed stalks – wandering in and disappearing to no place in particular, sometimes stopping to take pictures and sometimes ducking and squealing at the urgent buzzing of  pollen-laden insects diving into the blooms.

They’ve arrived to capture the fleeting pleasure of a gentle brush with nature at the sunflower fields of Grinter Farms

The cooperation level among the visitors is something in itself to behold. There is no competition or me-first attitude to be seen anywhere this particular day. Visitors will spend the next hour or two not thinking much about what they left behind them – only the fact that they are surrounded by acres and acres of what some feel is just…sunshine and happiness.

The heads of sunflowers bloomed in the field of Grinter Farms on Saturday, Sept. 2, near Tonganoxie, KS (©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair)
Powdered with yellow pollen, bees, along with other insects feasted on the fat sunflower blooms. (©2017 Peggy Stevinson-Bair)
Kourtni Freemyer, longtime Tonganoxie resident and student at St. Mary University in Leavenworth, KS, worked to assist visitors with water and t-shirts Sat. Sept. 2, at Grinter Farms. (©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair)
©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

A Family Tradition Born Out of an Oil Crisis

Every story has a beginning and this one started with Tonganoxie farmer Jim Grinter, who had a vision for making alternative fuel to run his farm. His daughter-in-law, Kris Grinter, shared what Jim started out to try and do during the 70s to fight the cost of rising gas prices:

When the idea of using sunflower oil for fuel became impractical financially, he decided to keep growing them anyway, which, as Kris Grinter said, over the years, turned into a family tradition.

The Grinters have profitable row crops of corn and soybeans – although, for a few lucky years, there was enough demand that the family grew more acres of them. Apparently, in spite of Kansas being known as “the sunflower state,” it’s actually the Dakotas that grow the majority of sunflowers.

The family currently have about 40 acres planted in sunflowers (that’s still about three million plants, according to Grinter Farms worker Curt Somers.) Kris Grinter, known also as “the farmer’s wife,” explains:

Feeding the Masses

Besides a great walk through the sunflowers, visitors this year can also enjoy home made pies, cookies, and cinnamon rolls thanks to the new food kitchen that was added this year. It’s first come, first serve though – on Kris’s baked goods – and they sell out fast by 10 a.m., depending on the crowds. (Food trucks with additional lunch options have been added this year, though. Check Grinter Farms for serving times and details)

On his most recent visit out at Grinter Farms September 8, Blues Insights’ videographer Terry Bair happened upon Ted out among the sunflowers and had a chat with him about how the operation is going now and how it has evolved this year from previous years:

New this year also is the addition of food trucks. We caught up with Debbie Robinette, a longtime friend of the Grinters, (who grew up with Ted), as she manned one of the new concessions. She said that this year, more fields were mowed for visitors to have places to park and more workers were on hand to help visitors get oriented and provide them with water – so visitors will have an easier time doing what they came to enjoy.

Local Artisans at The Store

The store has been expanded and is a place where local artists and vendors have their wares for sale – leather crafts, quilts, metal craft, jellies, and local honey. Friends and family pitch in to help keep the operation running smoothly for the two or three weeks of blooming season. And Ted knows plenty of friends:

Paul Van Cleave sells some of his exotic jellies (Cabernet, Champagne, Sunflower) at the Grinter Store during the sunflower blooming in the first couple of weeks of September. Van Cleave, who grew up on a farm in Tonganoxie, KS, is one of the many local artisans selling their wares to visitors at the farm prior to the seasonal sunflower harvest. Van Cleave owns and runs Imbibe Jam’s LLC. Local artisans sell their wares in the Grinter Farms Shop.

Happiness and Hope

For one visitor at Grinter Farms this year, the sunflowers represented more than a family outting. Not only was it a place for Isabella Gamino’s senior pictures, but it is a place that represents happiness …and hope. Gamino, 17, who lives in Topeka and traveled to Grinter Farms with her mother Tracy Gamino for the photo session, said she is now at ease discussing the depression she struggled with as a young teen.

As a young teen, Isabella Gamino, 17, suffered from depression and spent years working with medical teams to recover and regain a positive lifestyle, she said recently, while visiting Grinter Farms. The sunflowers, said Gamino, represent hope and happiness. (Sept. 5, 2017 © Peggy Stevinson Bair)

She advocates for young people to talk more openly about how they are feeling and being honest about their intentions with their families to get the help they need for depression.

“I’ve had a lot of struggles throughout my entire school life. And just thinking about how the sunflowers come back every year, their faces look up towards the sun…they are always so positive…it’s just something that I really relate to and feel within my heart. [Sunflowers] are happiness…positive…very much an optimistic thing.”



This weekend, as we visited, many blooms were just starting while many others were beginning to wither. The crowds were still strong but the fields are still far larger than the number of people visiting. As the sun lay down at the edge of the hills below a pink and purple sky,, and the last of the day’s visitors packed up and headed home, a peace and calm settled over dotted landscape. (©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair)



The sunflowers are in full bloom right now at Grinter Farms and, according to the website, the blooming season is about 2 weeks or less before the heads get heavy with seeds and start to droop. Harvest is at about Halloween. The photos for this article were taken September 2nd, 5th and 8th – for more information and store, bakery and food truck hours, contact: Grinter Farms

©2017 copyright Blues Insights LLC @Peggy Stevinson Bair ©Terry Bair All right reserved.

Please share this link with your friends to share the story of hope and happiness with the world: Acres of Sunflowers
Continue reading “Gift of the Grinters: Acres of Happiness at Tonganoxie Farmers’ Sunflower Utopia”

The Irish Have Taken Over Crown Center For Labor Day Weekend!

Blues Insights was out and about downtown Kansas City on Saturday where fountains flowed bright green in honor of the 2017 Kansas City Irish Fest.

Bagpipers warmed up their pipes in the parking garage, confirming for (or warning)  visitors that they had arrived at the right location if they were looking for all-things-Irish just up ahead.

On the outside, walls of tall fencing stretched for blocks, surrounding three levels of pure fun from concerts to beer gardens to shops and more entertainers – all on a beautiful, balmy Labor Day weekend opening to the month of September.

On the inside, the ballrooms in the Crown Center hotel hosted Irish dance contests where young laddies and young lassies shuffled their feet outside the hallways as they prepared for their turn in the competitions, the girls with their crowns laden with bouncing curls above their determined faces.

Meagan Bowler, 10, from The Clark Academy for Irish Dance in St. Louis, won first place for 12 and under age group for Open Champ

As luck would have it, I got to meet a one such dance competitor, Meagan Bowler, 10, who was outside Crown Center in front of (one of the many) green fountains having her picture taken by her mother, Cate Bowler. Meagan had just competed and won first place in each of her three rounds – and ended up winning 1st place in the under 12 age group for Open Champ dancers at the Kansas City Feis.

“The first thing she did was grab her new friend Claire, from an opposing school, to stand on top of the podium with her for a picture,” said her mother Cate. “That’s what’s great about the sport…meeting new people from different states…competing against each other, but also making friends with them. That is something Meagan’s [dance] teacher instills in all the kiddos at the Clark Academy – good sportsmanship.”

Bowler has only been dancing for two years. Her friend Manuel Meneses, 9, won first in Under 11 Preliminary Champ. According to Meagan’s mother Cate Bowler, Open Champ is the highest level in Irish Dance. Preliminary Champ is the second highest level. The Bowlers and Manuel attend the The Clark Academy of Irish Dance  St. Louis.

Bowler said Meagan’s costume was made in Ireland where each costume is custom created for each dancer. The costume arrived two weeks ago and was just finished with final touches of tailoring one week ago.

The Kansas City Irish Fest continues with 10 stages of fun on Sunday, Sept. 3, at Crown Center in Kansas City.


Samantha Clemons – at Knuckleheads Thursday, Aug. 31 – Carl Butler Lounge

Get tickets from etix

Most people who know me, know I’ve been a photographer and photojournalist my entire career…but back in 2009, thanks to a renewal of friendship with my childhood pal  Janet Jameson (Rock Paper Scissors), I started photographing musicians and venues and loving the vibrant Kansas City music scene.

After an evening of photographing one such performance at Record Bar, back in 2012, I was kicking back with Dennis White of RPS after their performance when a beautiful young black woman took the center of the stage – quietly, unimposing, alone – and with with her whole soul, cut into the dark silence with a voice and lyrics that felt like a gale wind had blown through the front door. (I fumbled around for my cellphone settings and just hit record and prayed that something would work that would do some tiny iota of justice to her).

In that moment, I gained a reverence for the audacity and internally-driven joy and love of music possessed by those who get up on stage following a popular act where most of the house has left – and, in front of a dozen or fewer people – pour their hearts out like the house is full (all the greats have a story like this to tell…)


So, that night, in that song, this is what she had to say:

you take away from me
everything i once had
and it’s so hard to see
while i’m looking back
but never once in my mind
did i think i could find
a heart like yours
so unwilling to fly

crafting lies is your game
that i’m soon up against
giving rise to a crime
and your feigned innocence
but time goes
and i know
that i was never alone
in this long line of those
awaiting your end

find a way to bring me
back to my senses
we’ve passed the point
of where we could comprehend this
i’m just another way
for you to lie to their face
when you say
that you’ll never surrender

you take away from me
everything i once had
and it’s so hard to see
without looking back
but never once in my mind
did i think i could find
a heart like yours
so unwilling to fly

find a way to bring me
back to my senses
we’ve passed the point
of where we could comprehend this
i’m just another way
for you to lie to their face
when you say
that you’ll never surrender

turning back tiime
to a place that i
lost my soul
along this road
stealing moments
a glimpse in slow motion
until it all fades to unfocused

find a way to bring me
back to my senses
we’ve passed the point
of where we could comprehend this
i’m just another way
for you to lie to their face
when you say
that you’ll never surrender

Shortly thereafter,  I learned more about her from her many youtube videos she had posted and in one set of videos was a project whereby she would write a song a day for 31 days. And she posted several of them, often within minutes of taking a few minutes to dream up the song. Her haunting lyrics seem to flow straight to her effortlessly as if some loose ethereal strand was left uncut when she entered this world.

The videos are rare glimpses into the raw, uncut version of the songwriter process – that rice paper thin plane of existence where artists go to channel with their muses…then come back to share with the rest of us mere mortals. In an age of digital control and the polished studio perfections, getting to see, hear and feel something real and authentic feels refreshing. And when up close in a live setting, for some it’s a theater vs. the movies experience.

Clemons has her own niche following and certainly she is not a pop genre artist but her fresh voice and pure lyrics will nonetheless carry the potential to spark open the emotions of those who hear her. This is what Clemons does best – by being herself and speaking from the heart, she helps all of us feel those connections.

Here and now, five years later, Clemons resides in Fort Worth but she hasn’t forgotten her Kansas City fan base (she attended K-State) and she brings a one night show this week at Knuckleheads.

Her promo includes the song Dirty Work, performed here:

Clemons is performing this Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 8 p.m. in the Carl Butler Lounge of Knuckleheads. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 11.36.58 PM

Find tickets here – etix






Hurricane Relief Fund – Chris Young Foundation

The Chris Young Foundation is accepting donations on top of his own generous $100K donation to be distributed to the Red Cross and other disaster relief organizations.

Blues Insights is making a donation – and helping spread the word about this opportunity. It’s a helpless feeling to watch this devastation and feel like there is nothing you can do from here. But money does help in a situation like this – absolutely no matter what amount. Let’s pitch in for Texas and our fellow Americans in need.

Other avenues for donations can be found at Charity Navigator

Check out this NPR story for even more places to donate and other ways to help, like donating blood.

You Caring  is raising money also. So there are many, many places to do something about the devastation you are seeing on the live coverage of events.

Now, if you are a musician or band and you having a fundraiser for Hurricane relief, please contact me (Peggy Stevinson Bair) and I will post your fundraiser event on my pages to help broadcast your event.

God Bless Texas and the amazing people who are down there live and in person to help. Think if something happened disastrous to you and your community like this. You know those people in Texas would be generous with you, because that’s the kind of people they are down there. So, this time, it’s their turn. I’m sure we, here, will do what each of us can for them.



The Serious Side of the Blues According to Blues Funnyman Boogie Woogie Red

Here’s a quick little story for you:

Bluesman Boogie Woogie Red, born Vernon Harrison in Louisiana in 1926, was a well-known blues funny man. Red’s father, who brought young Vernon to Detroit as a toddler, instilled a love for the vaudeville stage, since the senior Harrison was a vaudeville comedian. As such, Red became a great impressionist and storyteller in addition to his skills as a musician. But those music influences came from elsewhere…

As a child, he would go down to the bars and listen to his favorites of the time, including being greatly influenced by Big Maceo Merriweather’s performances. (Have a listen sometime and imagine a young Vernon Harrison getting his head full of this):

According to writings on the jacket of Boogie Woogie Red, Live at the Blind Pig, (yes, I have it) young Vernon grew up to be a great impressionist and storyteller on stage as he hosted at the Ann Arbor, MI club, The Blind Pig on what they called “Blue Mondays”. About Red, from his live album cover:

Anyone who comes down to the Blind Pig knows his Mr. Belvedere routine, his English accent, his French accent and his Cock Robin routine. Red’s also a wealth of stories. Stories about his years with John Lee Hooker and some famous spats he had with his wife Maudie. Stories about his trips to Europe…Stories that all have the same insane observations of an incredible wit simmered in 80 proof Canadian alcohol for the past 30 years.  

If you believe, as I do, that comedy and tragedy share the same whiskey bottle, then it’s understandable that the blues and comedy can go hand in hand as it did for Boogie Woogie Red.

It’s interesting, then, that while Red had his own act that included comedy, when it came to blues music, he had a more somber opinion about the blues genre:

“I’ll tell you about the blues – the blues is something that you play when you’re in a low mood or something, and the hardships that you have had through life. It’s just the mood that you are in. And the average person takes the blues as what you might call a plaything, but the blues is really serious. The blues is something that you have to play coming from your heart. ~ Boogie Woogie Red, 1960, Conversation with the Blues


Have a share of this youtube video of Red’s performance in Sussex, England, 1973.

“And you don’t have to have anybody around to have the blues, and you don’t have to be around people. You be alone to yourself, time to think about the mistakes you have made in life…the money, everything…that’s what you call the blues.” ~ Boogie Woogie Red, Conversation with the Blues. 1960. compiled by Paul Oliver; published by Cambridge University Press.

Wednesdays through September – Blues JAM at The Levee in Kansas City


Hey all you Kansas City music lovers – check out Kansas City’s one and only The Levee on Wednesdays (Yes, that includes TONIGHT) for Blues Jams hosted by Sean McDonnell and Brandon Miller.

  • Great food.
  • Great people.
  • Great atmosphere.
  • Great MUSIC
  • It’s The Levee – since 1965, Kansas City’s hot spot for great music.

Here’s a taste of a jam session from July 12, 2017, compliments of Blues Insights:

Come out and listen, dance, groove – have a good time supporting The Levee and all these great musicians. In this video: Sean McDonnell, vocals and guitar, Brandon Miller, drums, Michael LeFever, sax, Carl Cherrito congas, Dylan Reiter on bass and Kyle Hayden on guitar, far right.

There’s plenty of time to come on out between 8 and midnight. See you there!



For Small Towns in Midwest, Eclipse Brings Together Family, Friends, Fun – and Science

There may have been some who were disappointed about cloud cover during the much-publicized and hyped solar eclipse – but from the optimist’s point of view, the planning, preparation and excitement was a day for science to earn a place in the hearts of everyday people.

In Dearborn, Mo., a sleepy little town off I-29 on the way north from Kansas City to St. Joseph, Mo., Mike and Susie Lyon stood out on their front step in downtown Dearborn and caught the first glimpses of the eclipse as the moon appeared to slip in front of the sun. They wore their eclipse glasses they got from attending a class earlier this month from a local astronomer. “I’m just waiting ’til it’s totally dark so I can take a nap,” quipped Mike.

Mike and Susie Lyon watched Monday, Aug. 21, from their front steps in downtown Dearborn with their special eclipse glasses as the moon began its path of blocking out the sun. “To see it happening, it’s awesome, amazing,” said Susie. “It’s once in a lifetime.”

A bit further down the road, in downtown Plattsburg, what looked like a class of amateur astronomers was actually retired aerospace engineer Tom Killgore and his family and friends from Tulsa, OK, staked out in front of a home he rented for the event.

“I’ve been planning for this for 10 years,” said Killgore.  Over a period of years, Killgore purchased enough telescopes and setup for the group to be able to individually enjoy the experience. “We found the house about a year ago and rented it.”

Connie Rush, left, and her husband Tom Killgore, right, rented a house in Plattsburg, MO. over a year ago, as part of a plan that Killgore started 10 years ago to view and record the total solar eclipse Aug. 21, 2017 with family and friends. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

His own setup included several cameras on tripods, but a special setup involving a telescope that automatically recorded timed captures for a time-lapse sequence and a wide angle bubble-front lens that took in a super wide scene of its entire surroundings.

Friends and family of Tom Killgore and Connie Rush, right, manned their viewing stations in front of telescopes  set to track the total solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 from the front lawn of a home they rented in Plattsburg, Mo. for the event. The group is from Tulsa, OK. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

His wife Connie Rush and her friend Diana Barbee helped the grandkids and the rest of the group keep their equipment setup – and protected when some rain droplets fell during the coming and going of cloud cover.

Tom Killgore keeps a watchful eye on the floating cloud cover as he monitored his carefully designed recording setup designed to fully capture the total solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 in Plattsburg, MO. Killgore, a Tulsa native, started making his plans for the event 10 years ago. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
Tom Killgore, a retired aerospace engineer and astronomy enthusiast, supervised equipment and viewing experiences for his family and friends staying in Plattsburg, MO for the Aug. 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
Diana Barbee, friend of the hostess, Connie Rush and Tom Killgore, all of Tulsa, OK, watched as the moon eclipsed the sun Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, from a spot Killgore rented in downtown Plattsburg, MO. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

Killgore explained his telescopic photography setup:

Killgore also had a cool project he created, which he explains here:


Tom Killgore, left, and his wife Connie Rush (second from left), posed for a picture Monday, taken with his super fisheye lens setup that captured their place in the historical event of the 2017 total solar eclipse from their spot in Plattsburg, MO. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
the Windsors Eclipse.jpg
Dorothy and Richard Winsor travelled all the way from Waterloo, IA to at least one pitstop on Hwy 116 near Plattsburg, MO, chasing after a glimpse of the total solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, undeterred by the on-again-off-again sprinkles and cloud cover. The couple was among hundreds of motorists who lined the rural roads in and around Plattsburg, MO on Monday afternoon during the eclipse. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
At a party in Plattsburg, MO, Jim Krest, of Kansas City, MO, used a sextant to view the eclipse. Krest and his wife, Robin, lived full time on a sailboat for three years where they learned to use the navigation device – and decided it would be useful for viewing Monday’s solar eclipse. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair


Natalie Banks, left, hosted an eclipse party for friends and family at her farm near Plattsburg, MO. That’s my husband, Terry Bair, using the nerdiest glasses ever invented to try and catch a glimpse of that tiny crescent during the Aug. 21, 2017 total solar eclipse event. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair


Today, we witnessed license plates from as far away as Idaho, Texas, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin – to name only a few – who came to Missouri to be a part of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse event here.

Everywhere we went, we observed people in good spirits, joining together in parking lots and camping sites…enjoying not only a fun science event, but also a peaceful human event.

For a day or two…a few hours or so…a powerful and wondrous event in the sky seemed to bring us all together with one word in common:


It’s not Om, but…

Close enough.

Independent Blues Award Winner Mike Zito – Keeping It Real Makes Fan Just Like Him Even More

Australia native Leanne Trevena was just looking for an interesting evening of fun entertainment back in February, 2013 when she saw a write up about blues artist Mike Zito in her local paper, the Colorado Springs Independent.

A transplant from Australia with her family to Colorado Springs, Leanne Trevena became a super fan of blues musician Mike Zito after hearing him play when he was with a previous incarnation of Royal Southern Brotherhood back in 2013 with Devon Allman.

So, she headed up with her husband, Simon, to check out a new venue she hadn’t tried before.

Zito was playing that night with the early incarnation of  Royal Southern Brotherhood (Devon Allman) at The Crystola Roadhouse,  just outside of town in Woodland, Co.

“It’s this little dive bar up on the highway,” Trevena said. (Our favorite kind of place, right?) “The write-up in the local paper was interesting, and it was a good chance to see the venue, as we had tickets to see another artist there in April.”

“I was standing there waiting for a friend and he [Zito] just walked right past me and went up on the stage and started playing,” she said. It’s one of the great things about experiencing live music at a small roadhouse is that the musicians are literally right there with you.

Trevena decided she liked the music and purchased the namesake Royal Southern Brotherhood CD at that concert – afterwards, doing some further research on the band.

That research led her to Mike Zito’s blog  A Bluesman in Recovery  and to attending another concert at Smokin’ Moes in Winter Park, Colorado the very next Tuesday.

“With more knowledge of the music, it was an even better night,” said Trevena. “I bought a [Royal Southern Brotherhood] t-shirt and promptly made my way around to the band members getting it signed. This lead to getting to chat with the band members and eventually with Mike himself.”

“He was very friendly and we talked about his blog and music. He was so real, so humble and so grateful for his fans and music followers,” she said.

The next time she saw Zito was later in 2013 on a two week road trip to New Orleans. Zito was playing a show at Chickie WahWah’s  and, out of just dumb luck, Trevena said, she found out Zito was playing while she and Simon were there to attend a jazz festival.  The couple went and Trevena said the crowd was sparse that night, but it didn’t matter.

“Mike Zito got up and he played like the house was full,” she said.

She got a chance to chat with Mike again that night in NOLA – about his blog and his music. She bought two more CDs that night – Greyhound and Pearl River, pointing out she was after a couple of favorite tracks:  One Step at a TimeGreyhound (title track)

That night, Zito mentioned a show that would be the following night at the same venue – so Trevena and her husband went back the next night – this time to an overflow crowd and a packed house.

A further conversation after the second night in NOLA led Trevena to follow Zito’s suggestion to check out a memorial in Beaumont, Texas where there was a tribute Blind Willie Johnson. The couple got to visit the memorial on their way back home to Colorado. (Zito covered Johnson’s song Let You Light Shine on Me on his Gone To Texas CD.)

Trevena was finally hooked on Zito and his music as she listened to more and more of his songs and heard his performances and visited Zito’s blog: A Bluesman in Recovery

“His music gets me through a lot of things,” Trevena said. “His blogs are interesting, informative and thought provoking. I love that I have been able to meet him and chat with him many times. I also love sharing his music with family and friends and enjoy being able to give people autographed CDs.”

Trevena said that she found Zito’s openness about his own life experiences a positive influence for her.

“I felt he was saying that he wasn’t perfect and wasn’t claiming to be,” she said. “We’ve all seen headlines of what addiction does to people and cost to society, but I think being able to speak to someone makes it more understandable. I’m not sure I had ever really met anyone that had suffered with addiction – it was a chance for me to learn something, perhaps get rid of ideas that had been planted in my brain by other parties…family, media, etc.”

Trevena said she had suffered depression before in her life, and that, “although the two are not the same, there is so much that Mike talks about with recovery that I can relate to. Mike’s life has obviously given him some very good stories to tell, and he has been able to use that in his music.”

Mike Zito performed Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 at Knucklehead’s in Kansas City. Zito was the recipient the Independent Blues Awards best rock song for  ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair (check it out at Making a Scene ) Zito’s latest CD is Make Blues Not War

Zito performed recently at Knuckleheads in Kansas City, opening for Tab Benoit on the outdoor stage. After Zito’s performance, a small crowd gathered around to purchase CDs and t-shirts at the end of the stage. She waited quietly in line behind others there to have autographs signed and photos taken with Zito. Zito turned to the final two people waiting in line, nodded towards Trevena and said  “She’s a fan AND a friend.”

To Trevena, he smiled: “When you are a friend, you get to wait until everyone is finished to catch up.” And a busy conversation ensued in the remaining break before the next set.

Trevena came away from the encounter a bit breathless but with a wide, girlish smile.

“I felt honored that he would refer to me in that way,” Trevena said. “I think a big part of Mike Zito is that he can make people feel special just by being him. He doesn’t come across as arrogant or superior. I think he’s amazing and he seems to think the same of his fans.”


Mike Zito fan  Trevena lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Simon. Trevena travels the United States with her husband to catch performances of blues artist Mike Zito – and owns 10 of his 13 CDs. “He is the music love of my life,” said Trevena. (Submitted photo)