Joe Zook Returns to the Stage at Reckless

Reckless Steamy Nights

By, Tom Baldino

Joe Zook band 202207

Joe Zuccarello and his Blues Quartet returned to the stage for the first time in quite awhile, as a result of his winning a tough battle with radiation treatments for cancer, pneumonia and spending time on dialysis. Whoever said music cures all ills certainly knew what they were talking about! We kept in touch for many months and waited until the time was right for him to physically perform. We settled on a date, and as it got close, his bass player came down with Covid, just to add some more stress to the gig. Happily, he was able to recruit John Sopkl on keyboards and in Joe’s words “John really handled the bass notes,” and in my words, produced some fine solos as well! Drummer Rick Lawton was rock solid all night and Angelo DiBraccio on sax was outstanding.  

The evening kicked off with “Good Mornin’ Blues,” the title track from the Joe Zook & Blues Deluxe, their most recent collection. The song was highlighted by Joe’s terrific slide guitar playing. Next, we took the “way back machine” to 1935 for Memphis Slim’s “Every Day I Have the Blues” and to 1964 for Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.” After the song “Danger Zone,” made popular by Kenny Loggins in the film “Top Gun,” they did my favorite original from the new disc, “It Ain’t What You Do,” with some more of Joe’s signature slide playing, which the audience appreciated as well. The band then tore into Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “Fattening Frogs for Snakes” and the original “I Wanna Stay,” with Joe and the boys then taking a much-deserved break, considering the heat generated in the Reckless house, which has no air conditioning. 

During the intermission, those in attendance were treated to the Artist in Residence program sponsored by the Woman’s Club. This month, Franki DeSaro was featured, with her “Art from Rebirth Into the Light” for sale, adorning the walls and on display on easels in the alcoves, as well as the dining room.  

 JSJBF board member, sound man on our new Bose PA (that was purchased from our most recent Mega 50/50 fundraiser), and harp player, Gary Neuwirth, joined the band on an excellent rendition of “Pride and Joy.” From there we took the “Key To the Highway,” with some “Smokestack Lightning” along the way. The self-penned “I Got Nothing To Say” was in stark contrast to someone who had plenty to sing about on this special night. As an added treat, fellow Trenton bluesman and longtime friend Paul Plumeri, whose band will be playing the Long Branch Festival on August 27th, was in attendance.

The evening finished with Joe asking “do you want to hear some B.B. King?” and delighting the crowd with “Sweet Sixteen” and “Let The Good Times Roll,” ending with Cab Calloway’s signature tune “Minnie The Moocher.” What a night it was for Joe and for the rest of us as well!