11 tracks; 50:58 minutes; Splendid
Styles: Blues Rock; Rock and Roll; Contemporary Electric Blues
“Well, if he is that good, why isn’t he rich and famous?” – There it is, the age old question asked by newcomers to the music industry whenever they hear a great but relatively unknown artist. The answers to the question are myriad and complicated. But, the simple truth is: there are many artists that are so good they deserve wider recognition and remuneration. Jon Zeeman is such an artist. To be fair, Zeeman is not “completely” unknown; for example, he has performed with the Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon Theater! And, he is pretty well known in Florida where he actively gigs.
Growing up outside NYC, Jon studied classical piano and decided on a career in music at age 13. He had been obsessed with guitars, amplifiers, wah-wah pedals, power tubes, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones since the age of 8. Zeeman claims that, early on, he learned a valuable lesson about getting up early and menial work – it was not for him! He spent his high school years practicing music more and doing homework less. After studying music at Ithaca College, Jon left school to play on the road. In the mid-1980s Jon moved to New York City and became involved in producing, session work and song writing, working at his “Studio Z” in a downtown loft. The New York years were also saw many trips to Scandinavia, where he toured and recorded with several groups.
Zeeman began performing his own music in the mid ‘90s working regularly at the NYC venues. Leaving NYC at the birth of his daughter, Zoe, Jon now resides in Martha’s Vineyard and West Palm Beach Florida, where he performs regularly. He has toured, recorded and performed with such notables as Susan Tedeschi, Janis Ian, and the Allman Brothers Band. His first CD, “Still Life,” was released in Europe in 2003 featuring Funk, Jazz, and Blues guitar to much acclaim. It was followed by “Zeeland” in 2008 with a Bluesy and Funky Jazz fusion.
“Down on my Luck” brings a new direction for Jon Zeeman, with 10 great, new and original Blues-Rock tunes and one cover, Johnny Winter’s “I Love Everybody.”
The CD also marks the debut of Zeeman on vocals – in commendable form. The CD is a fresh look at an American genre born from the Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The first track aired on our Saturday night radio show, co-hosted with my radio partner Shuffle Shoes, was the opening track, “You’re Right, I’m Wrong.” Sung as a plea to an absent lover, the protagonist is apologizing and begging her to “come home.” If the concise words from the (humorous) title don’t convince her, the swinging guitar playing should. Helping do the convincing are Phil McArthur – bass, George Lilly – drums, Tom Regis and Bob Taylor – Keyboards. Jon’s daughter Zoe adds bass to three other cuts.
Next up was “Money” with an upbeat and Funky approach. The need for elusive spondulics is a universal theme, here reasoned, “Can’t pay the rent, I just can’t pay my phone, can’t pay my bills, sure can’t pay my loan, can’t pay my cat, can’t even throw my dog a bone… I need some money.”
Future spins will include the powerful, slow burning title track “Down on My Luck.” A hovering organ along with a tasty bass line lay the bedrock for Jon’s vocals which take an optimistic approach to his current bad-luck-blues. The penetrating guitar solo seals the deal. Another slower and soulful number is “Waiting for the Storm.”
In Hour 2, when we like to Rock it up a little, we’ll spin “Got the Gun,” a hard driving Rock and Roll tune. Zeeman’s time with the Allman Brothers seems to have inspired “Hangman’s Bridge,” an explosive Blues Rock tune done with alternating mid-tempo passages. Speaking of combustion, Zeeman channels and churns nicely on Johnny Winter’s “I Love Everybody.”
Following the concluding track, “Better Off Dead,” displaying one final time Zeeman’s considerable vocal and instrumental talents, you yourself will be asking “Well, how can he be that good and not be rich and famous?”