Arizona Republic, February 20, 2009
‘Lowdown Blues’ turns 25
By Larry Rodgers
Phoenix, Arizona | Published: 02.20.2009
Phoenix blues impresario Bob Corritore has been bringing his favorite music to an appreciative radio audience every Sunday for a quarter-century.
This month, Corritore is celebrating the 25-year run of his show, “Those Lowdown Blues,” on KJZZ (91.5 FM).
That celebration includes a concert on Feb. 20 at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix starring Corritore’s Rhythm Room All-Stars with guests Henry Gray, Dave Riley and Chief Schabuttie Gilliame. (Details: rhythmroom.com)
Corritore, 52, manages to prepare and broadcast the show for five hours weekly (6 to 11pm) while also operating the Rhythm Room, as well as performing and recording with a number of acts.
The DJ-commentator-harmonica player looked back on his show’s history:
Q: What were you after when you launched the show?
A: I just wanted to share the music that I love with the people in Phoenix. I didn’t know how long I would be able to do it, but I’ve discovered that KJZZ is a comfortable place for the show.
Q: Do you have to lug your own record collection into the studio each week?
A: I’ve always brought my own music; that’s what I’ve had to offer the station. When I was still living in Chicago, I didn’t know it, but I was setting the stage for what I’d do later. I’d invite friends over and we would listen to cool music all night.
Q: How has the show evolved through the years?
A: When the show started, I was playing pretty much just music from the 1950s. Then there were labels like Black Top that were coming out with these really wonderful contemporary records that I felt were carrying the tradition forward. At one point, I gathered a larger scope for the show, where I would learn about things like soul, R&B and New Orleans music. As I became more aware, I would present it.
Q: Does everything you broadcast have a tie to the blues?
A: Everything I play could legitimately be called blues. But sometimes I’ll skirt the limits of the genre, where something might belong to a couple different genres. If you’re going to play Little Johnny Taylor, he’s an artist that belongs to both soul music and the blues. Jimmy Smith is a jazz artist who also belongs to the blues world.
I won’t cross over to the more rock-pop place. That’s valid music, but it’s not a place that I am comfortable going. My show is for traditional blues.
Q: Five hours offers plenty of time for exploration each week.
A: If someone is able to spend five hours with me – and there are listeners who do – they will be able to get a wonderful little tour of the blues. At the same time, if someone tunes in for 15 minutes while they’re driving, they’ll catch a little bit of that experience.
I try to make it feel like it all belongs in a set. It may be something as diverse as playing some early Staples Singers doing gospel, on to some Muddy Waters and . . . include some early James Brown doing R&B with a doo-wop edge and some zydeco from Louisiana.
The blues has some cousins, some uncles and some grandparents.
Q: What has kept your relationship with KJZZ so solid?
A: With Scott Williams, the program director, and Doug Myrland, the former PD, they both have understood what I’m trying to do. They have made me feel like family.