Big City Blues Magazine (August 2010): Bob Corritore

Born in Chicago in 1956, raised in the north burbs, heard Muddy water on the radio at age 12 or 13, started harmonica at 13, saw Muddy at my high school gymnasium in 1974, got a biz degree at University of Tulsa, hung around all the great of Chicago blues artists and learned and appreciated all I could, worked after college at Sound Unlimited in the Chicago area, produced my first album by Little Willie Anderson at age 22, a year later produced another by Big Leon Brooks, worked in bands with Willie Buck and Tail Dragger, moved to Phoenix in 1981, joined by Louisiana Red for a year in 1982, joined Big Pete Pearson in 1983, started a radio show (still going) in 1984, worked with Janiva Magness in 1985, Chico Chism (Howlin’ Wolf’s last drummer)moved to Phoenix in 1986 per my invitation, opened the Rhythm Room in 1991, started recording the veteran touring artists coming to the club, released my first CD as a performer in 1999 with All-Star Blues Sessions on HighTone Records, which started a series of many releases, worked with Sam Lay, Henry Gray, Buddy Reed, Chris James & Patrick Rynn, Chief Schubuttie Gilliame, played in Europe for the first time in 2005 at the Marco Fiume Blues Passions Festival which has led to numerous trips back, got a KBA award for the radio show in 2007, teamed up with Dave Riley for the 2007 release of Travelin’ The Dirt Road which received BMA and BBMA nominations, Dave and I released the 2009 Lucky To Be Living to more fanfare and a BBMA nomination, also many releases, tours, festivals, and great things keep happening! In 2010 signed with Delta Groove for the August release of Harmonica Blues, featuring 20 years of sessions and a retrospect of many of my associations and great moments. Rand and I have been friends and collaborators for over 25 years and this feels very exciting to have our energies combined with this release. Believe it or not that is the short bio.

The new CD is called Bob Corritore And Friends / Harmonica Blues and it will be on the great Delta Groove label with a release date of August 17th, 2010. The features a stunning array of special guests including Koko Taylor, Little Milton, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Pinetop Perkins, Honeyboy Edwards, Henry Gray, Nappy Brown, Eddy Clearwater, Louisiana Red, Carol, Fran, Tomcat Courtney, Dave Riley, Big Pete Pearson, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Chief Schubuttie Gilliame, Eddie Shaw, Bob Margolin, Kid Ramos, Chico Chism, Rhythm Room All-Stars, David Maxwell, Bob Stroger, Eddie Taylor, Jr., and more. I am very excited to join up with the Delta Groove family. As I mentioned before I have been friends with Randy Chortkoff for a long time and I really admire how he has built the label into a whole blues movement. Rand has always been generous to me in by including me for guest appearances in many of his high profile events. This release celebrates the 40th year of my harmonica playing and features 15 songs recorded over a 20 year span. Each of the 15 tracks comes from a different recording session. Little Milton, Koko Taylor, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Nappy Brown, and Chico Chism are no longer with us. Basically, Harmonica Blues contains many of the most special moments of my life. I feel blessed to have been able to bring my favorite blues artists into the studio over the years, and here you have the fruits of those efforts.

Who influenced/mentor you the most on the harmonica? How?
I fell in love with harmonica when I first heard Little Walter play harmonica on a Muddy Waters record. I started playing harmonica right after that at age 13. When was growing up around Chicago I got to hear many greats which all influenced me: Big Walter Horton, Howlin’ Wolf, Carey Bell, Jerry Portnoy, Louis Myers, Billy Boy Arnold, Snooky Pryor, Lester Davenport, Little Willie Anderson, Big Leon Brooks, Good Rockin’ Charles, Dave Waldman, Big John Wrencher, Junior Wells, James Cotton, and more. Later on I got to see Kim Wilson, Paul Oscher, Bharath Rajakumar, Johnny Dyer, Lazy Lester, Steve Guyger, and Rick Estrin. These are just a few of the many people who helped me shape my playing. Each of them have there own unique

What is your favorite harmonica and why?
I play Hohner Marine Band and Hohner 64 Chromonica. Occasionally I will play Joe Filisko’s customized Marine Band. I like Marine Bands because they have that loose, funky sound. I love all the sounds that happen around the note you are playing, and to me the Marine Band does that best.

Why do you play the harmonica? Do you play other instruments?
I always connected with the harmonica as an instrument. I love the sounds it makes and the way it mimicks the human voice. What put me over the edge was hearing how Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonny Boy and Jimmy Reed could coax all those great sounds out if the harmonica. I play a little guitar at home for my own enjoyment.

Any tips for those who are just learning the harmonica?
New harmonica players should pick up all those great classic Chicago blues records from the fifties, and learn the tongue blocking technique.

Favorite blues or music club?
Since I am the owner of the Rhythm Room I have to call my club my favorite. But of course it was made to my design so what can I say.

Favorite festival(s)?
I love The Lucerne Blues Festival (Switzwerland), The Ottawa Blues Festival (Canada), Blues Sur Seine (France), The Chicago Blues Festival, The Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival, The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, The Cognac Blues Festival (France), Marco Fiume Blues Passions Festival (Italy), The Beautiful Swamp Blues Festival (France), The Lahnstein Blues Festival (Germany), The Bay-Car Blues Festival, The Bisbee Blues Festival, The Silver City Blues Festival, The Spring Blues Festival (Belgium), The Simi Valley Cajun / Blues Festival, and of course Phoenix’s Blues Blast Festival. There are many other great festivals that I have yet to experience but the ones I have mentioned have just wonderful audiences that have made me feel special. Many of the ones mentioned have had me back for return performances.

What was your blues cruise experience? Best part? Worst part?
I have yet to play the Blues Cruise but Roger and I have been discussing a future booking.

Favorite island on the cruise? Favorite island in your life so far?
Not applicable since I have not played the cruise.

Do you have a favorite rib joint?
I am fond of the Rack Shack (which is associated with the Rhythm Room), Honey Bear’s BBQ, and The Rendezvous.

Do you have (or had) a day job? If so what was it?
I have always held jobs in addition to playing music, but they are music oriented jobs that add to the bigger picture and work in synergy with being a musician. I host a blues radio program on KJZZ that is 26 years running. I own a music venue called the Rhythm Room that has extend and enabled many musical opportunities. I produce records, and I put out an e-newsletter.
When you get to the “Pearly Gates” what would you play or say to God?
I will thank God for a life filled and blessed with music, and I will play him a slow blues filled with my appreciation.

When were you born: month, day, year and where?
I was born in Chicago on September 27th, 1956.

Any Comment you can share about the gulf spill?
The Gulf spill the saddest statement of how our culture’s demands are fouling the world we need to live in. I worry that we are not looking at this with the bigger picture of how we need to change our energy dependence for the sake of the environment. BP is just one actor in the play, and that play needs an act 2 with a hero that can save the day.

– Gary von Tersch

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