Arizona Daily Star (September 19, 2008)

Arizona Daily Star, September 19, 2008

All-Stars are spreading Arizona’s blues cred

By Gerald M. Gay

Arizona Daily Star

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.19.2008

Harmonica player Bob Corritore has put in decades of hard work making sure the state of Arizona gets its due on the international blues scene.

In his 27 years in Phoenix, Corritore has:

● Created one of the most popular blues radio shows in the state, “Those Lowdown Blues,” featured weekly on KJZZ for the last 24 years.

● Influenced talented artists such as Louisiana Red and the late drummer Chico Chism to move to Phoenix, enhancing the quality of local performances.

● Helped to build the Rhythm Room, one of city’s most successful blues clubs, and produced hundreds of albums featuring local and national talent.

● Served as a global ambassador with his band, the Rhythm Room All-Stars. The group tours regularly through Europe and is due to play at Old Town Artisans tonight for the Rhythm & Roots concert series.

“There is this wonderful camaraderie going on, and people are excited about what we are doing over here,” said Corritore in a phone interview Monday. “There is a lot of good energy coming out of Arizona. People don’t always consider it a blues area, but we have done our part to keep this thing going.”

Corritore is proud of the great strides the blues communities in Phoenix and Tucson have made over the years. He is quick to praise Tucson names like KXCI DJ Marty Kool, Lisa Otey and Tom Walbank for the work that they’ve done.

Corritore himself comes from a background rich in authenticity. Born and raised in Chicago, Corritore was exposed firsthand to some of the legends. Muddy Waters played a concert in his high school gymnasium. Blind Jim Brewer was a regular performer at the local pizza joint near his house.

Corritore cut his teeth in his youth jamming at clubs and on Maxwell Street, the famed hangout where artists ranging from Big Walter Horton to Carey Bell would play.

“Here were all these musicians and they would let this kid sit in for a few numbers,” he said. “I did it well enough to where they tolerated me. I couldn’t believe as a young man how accessible the blues was.”

After earning his wings as a performer in Chicago, Corritore longed for warmer climates and came to Phoenix to live with his brother in 1981. His reputation as the city’s blues guru grew from there.

“My roots grew deeper and deeper,” he said. “Phoenix has allowed me this wonderful place to grow and spread my wings.”

Corritore’s band, the Rhythm Room All-Stars, was born shortly after the Rhythm Room opened its doors in 1991.

The All-Stars consist of a powerful ensemble of players featuring San Diego’s Chris James on guitar, Patrick Rynn on bass, former Paladins drummer Brian Fahey and Big Pete Pearson on main vocals.

Corritore said the band is coming to Tucson with new material from an album due out later this year.

The release will feature guest spots from Pinetop Perkins, Henry Gray, Duke Robillard, David Maxwell and Billy Flynn and will be made up of all-original, Pearson-penned tracks.

Corritore hopes to pull a repeat of the band’s last visit to Tucson in May.

“(People) were listening to every note we played.” he said.

● Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at 573-4137 and ggay@azstarnet.com.

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