The Zen Willie Sessions
I have been in the music business for the past 25 years. Over this time span, I have met numerous great musicians, many of whom I call friends. As time was going by, I came to the realization that some of them were passing away, and I strongly felt that I had to capture the sound of these “local” cats while they were still here and “blowing” as good as ever. This was the genesis for the “Zen Willie Sessions”. I had been recording and producing other projects recently at Zen Recording in Pinellas Park, Florida, under the steady hand of musical titan, Steve Connelly. Steve and I had performed in shows together in the past so there has always been a positive vibe when we got together. His input and assistance to this project was invaluable, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with a person so dedicated to pure music.
As I was mulling over what to record, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Willie Dixon had a massive influence on me as a blues bassist, and, in my opinion, he is the best blues songwriter of the post World War II blues era. While all of this was coming together I received a call from a true Blues Harmonica player, D.W. Gill, from Maine. He was setting up a tour in Florida and asked me to play bass on a few shows. I gladly accepted. At the same time, my long time pal and master drummer, Glenn Evans, was scheduled to be in town, and we likewise were arranging to play some shows together. It was then that it hit me that I was going to be playing with the current generation of the nationally and internationally recognized blues musicians. This was my opportunity to play the music Ilove with musicians that were equally passionate about the music. The last piece in my efforts was to add a guitar flavored towards an authentic Chicago sound blended with our own twist. Steve Burdi, longtime friend and blues guitar extraordinaire, agreed to join the session.
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TBone Hamilton and the Blues All Stars were born, and the plan was to record old school style…Live. We were all set up in the same room – drums, upright bass, guitar, and harmonica. This was how it was done back in the day. I wanted to have the live interaction, remaining hopeful that the music would shine through.
The first single I am releasing was made famous by Muddy Waters. Hoochie Coochie Man was written by bassist Willie Dixon and was a top 10 hit for Muddy which helped propel his career. Here is our take on it — Live and from the heart.