Rusty Zinn won't say that he's trapped in the blues, but the guitar star, known for his blazing licks, is having a little trouble extricating himself from the genre in which he made his prodigious reputation.
For the past decade or so, Zinn has devoted himself to reggae, drawn to the music by its loping grooves and spiritual message.
Last year he released "ReggaeBlue" (Bad Daddy Records), featuring the Soul Syndicate, the revered Jamaican rhythm section. It was a superb album that earned Zinn a nomination for the Joe Higgs Music Award as International Reggae Artist of the Year. But between his label's poor promotion, and the public's confusion over Zinn's new musical identity, the CD barely made a splash, and Zinn is once again back in the blues.
"Rusty's thing is he's always exploring new territory," says blues harmonica ace Mark Hummel, with whom Zinn first made his reputation in the early '90s.
"But when people know you for one thing, it's hard for them to accept you playing something else. He still loves to play blues, and he's one of the highest-level musicians I've ever worked with, in terms of ability on the guitar. He knows the genre inside and out."
With his Zinn-powered Blues Survivors, Hummel plays a series of gigs around the Bay Area in the next few weeks, including one Saturday at the Poor House Bistro in San Jose; one May 23 at Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco; and another June 1 at the Half Moon Bay Brewery.
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