By Craig Davis, Craigslegz.com
BOCA RATON, Fla.
The blues had added meaning for Mike Zito as he performed Saturday night at the packed Funky Biscuit.
The award-winning guitarist, singer, songwriter was singing from the heart, spreading the message of his suffering home state, and specifically for fellow musicians affected by the widespread flooding in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. It took a perilous journey to make it possible.
Zito, who lives in the small town of Nederland, Texas, in the heart of the Golden Triangle (cornered by Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange), has taken up the cause of musicians in that area whose sole income depends on playing in clubs that have been closed by the storm.
He set up a direct assistance fund on gofundme.com with a goal of raising $12,500 to aid 25 musicians who are out of work due to the flooding, but who he said have been pitching in to help in community relief efforts.
As of Sept. 3, more than $10,500 of the goal had been collected. The crowd at the Funky Biscuit contributed more than $1,000 during the show and the South Florida Blues Society pledged another $500.
His objective is that “they can continue to volunteer in our community and not worry about the loss of their income.”
Although Zito concluded his first set with “Fortunate One,” singing Fogerty’s classic refrain, “It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one,” Zito considers himself among the more fortunate in southeast Texas.
Despite being drenched by more than 40 inches of rain – “a year’s worth in two days!” – Zito said his town of Nederland wasn’t as badly flooded as nearby Beaumont and Port Arthur.
So, with a four-stop Labor Day Weekend tour scheduled in Florida, he embarked on a difficult journey in his truck over roads still partially submerged by excessive rainwater. He made it to Lafayette, La., where he caught a flight to South Florida.
“My own home is secure and my family is safe. I’m even fortunate enough to be working this week. But many are not,” he said.
Other members of Zito’s band were unable to get out of Texas. He recruited a couple of talented Florida artists for the Florida gigs, and they put on a memorable show at the Biscuit.
Zito, whose 13th career album, “Make Blues Not War” debuted last year at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart, has made numerous appearances at the popular Boca Raton music venue. But never one with more heartfelt meaning within the soul of his three-hour show.
He wove some timely references to the disaster still unfolding in Texas into some of his songs. It was poignant, and it was clear he wasn’t just singing about some faraway place.
With the next major hurricane already threatening a strike somewhere on the East Coast, he was striking at the heart of the blues we’re all feeling.