RUSTY ZINN (USA)
“Rusty Zinn has more talent in his little pinkie than most people could see in three lifetimes” – Kim Wilson
Rusty Zinn was born in Long Beach, California but his family soon relocated to Northern California, where the young man would be raised in the coastal mountains of the seaside town, Santa Cruz. He was ultimately introduced to music through his Mother’s 7 inch vinyl collection where he fell in love with the sounds of Elvis Presley and Fats Domino. His parents also constantly had the radio on where Zinn was exposed to Doo Wop vocal harmony sounds as well as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Sam Cooke and so much more. By the time he was ten years old, his mother had played him a Beatles record and he was completely mesmerized by their sound and began playing drums around the same time.
By the time he was 14, his older brother was bringing home Blues records. Through his older brother, Zinn was treated to the sounds of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and many other Chicago and Texas Blues legends. Zinn soon started purchasing Blues records himself with money he earned at an after school job. He soon became intrigued by guitar players such as Robert Lockwood, Jr., Eddie Taylor, and Jimmy Rogers. Zinn purchased his first guitar at the age of seventeen, and then witnessed Luther Tucker perform in concert with Rogers. Within twelve months, Tucker invited Zinn onstage after being introduced by a mutal friend, Texas guitar legend, Bill Campell. Tucker took the young Zinn under his wing and began teaching and mentoring him.
By the late 1980s, Zinn was playing in several Bay Area bands, and eventually would tour with Snooky Pryor as well as playing guitar behind many of his Chicago Blues hero’s on a West Coast which included Jimmy Rogers, Luther Tucker, Dave Myers, Freddy Robinson, Carey Bell, Billy Boy Arnold and others. A spell in Mark Hummel’s backing band The Blues Survivors followed, and he later met Kim Wilson at the 1992 San Francisco Blues Festival.
Subsequently, Zinn joined Wilson’s band, alongside the former Canned Heat bassist, Larry Taylor, as well as drummer Richard Innes, guitarist Junior Watson and the piano player Gene Taylor, mostly known for his stint with The Blasters. Zinn played on Wilson’s 1993 debut album Tiger man. After this, he continued to tour extensively worldwide with Wilson , and played on Wilson’s 1994 effort, That’s Life. Zinn continued to work with Wilson throughout the 90s touring and recording with the former Fabulous Thunderbirds front man. In fact, most people don’t know that Zinn actually played guitar for a ten-day tour with The Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1992 right after Duke Robillard’s departure.
In 1996, Zinn recorded his solo debut album, Sittin’ & Waitin’, on Black Top Records, which saw Wilson act as both accompanist and record producer. It earned Zinn a W.C. Handy Blues Music Award nomination as ‘Best New Blues Artist’. His second release, Confessin’ was issued by Black Top in 1999, and then The Chill (2000), featuring Elvin Bishop on slide guitar was released by Alligator Records. Throughout the 90s and well into the Millennium, Zinn continued to share the stage countless times backing his friends and musical heroes like Snooky Pryor, Billy Boy Arnold, James Cotton, John Mayall, Lazy Lester and too many others to mention here.
In the beginning of the millennium, Zinn toured with The Dynatones, a 7 piece Soul music horn band from the Bay Area, where Zinn was residing at the time in Oakland. His collaboration with The Dynatones lasted for one solid year of touring across the United States, showing another side of Zinn as a convincing and soulful R&B and Soul singer as well as a traditional Blues guitar slinger. Zinn also became very involved in Jamaican music in the early millennium, which has led to a separate career, garnering him a number one Reggae hit in the country of Brazil where he currently resides today.
Contrary to rumors and gossip, Zinn has never stopped playing and singing Blues and always continued to balance his time between Reggae music and The Blues. He continued to record on many Blues sessions behind countless performers throughout the millennium and as always toured and performed and in the United States, Canada and throughout Europe for the last 33 years. Zinn’s high register vocals along with his classic and timeless Blues guitar sound continue to please his longtime fans, while still garnering new and youthful fans with his sound. As of late, he has been enjoying being the featured guitar player with the legendary Rhode Island Blues outfit, Sugar Ray and The Bluetones. Just like a fine wine, his sound only gets better