Press Reviews

Rusty Zinn

Read The Sacramento Bee Review "Blues artist takes a reggae detour" in PDF. Click here.

From Living Blues Magazine:
By Lee Hildebrand
September 2005 

Rusty Zinn, Zinfidelity, Vol. 1 (Bad Daddy)

"I'm Oakland Red. I can love you from the tips of you toes to the top of your head," Rusty Zinn tells a woman, named Carmel Surprise, he's trying to puck up in a bar. The northern California bluesman, currently a resident of Sacramento, speaks over a laid-back James Brown-like funk groove. Later in the humor-laced dialogue, titled Zinn Bootyism, she asks him if he has "a license to ride." "Oh, I gotta license--I got a license to slide." He answers, his response echoed by a taste of slide guitar.

The track, --a blues novelty number in the tradition of Cliff Jackson and Jellean Delk's Frank, This is It and Blues Boy Willie's Be-Who--is just one of the many delights on Zinn's first CD in five years. The 12-song disc is packed with amazing variety, including Memphis soul, Oakland blues, a reggae original that suggested a Johnny Nash influence, and the closing Love Him or Leave Him, a self-penned slice of street-corner doo-wop sweetly harmonized over group finger snaps.

Four of the tracks are covers of strong, albeit obscure, songs: Ricky Allen's Talkin' " Bout My Baby, Roy C's Falling In Love Again, Tiny Powell's Get My Hat and Sammy Taylor's Ain't That Some Shame. The remainder were written by Zinn or his bassist Randy Bermudes--all first rate efforts that largely reflect a '60s soul-blues sensibility.

Sometimes breaking into Sam cook-like yodels, Zinn uses his pliant tenor pipes to deeply emotive effect, which is frequently heightened by the churchy vocal harmonies of Angila Witherspoon and Tori Baker. his incisive guitar work is consistently creative, alternately bringing to mind Albert Collins or reflecting the jazzier approaches of Oakland pickers Johnny Heartsman and Eddie Foster. Walter Salwitz and June Core take turn on the drum stool, and a trumpeter and tenor saxophonist add hard-punching riffs here and there. Bob Welsh plays thick organ chords on a number of selections, the instrumental Leslie Speaker vibrations adding just the right touch to the set's classic inner-city cocktail-lounge flavor."

From Blues Revue, October/November 2005 

Rusty Nails It:
Pumping Up the Soul, this Young California Axeman
Discovers Himself
by Eric Thom

"Bay Area musician Rusty Zinn has found his niche. Raised on his mother's collection of 45s before being steered toward Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf by his brother, he bursts out of the gates with a record celebrating old-school R&B (not to mention traditional blues, rock and even reggae). Where previous releases seemed to pigeonhole Zinn into the role of guitar god, his voice takes front and center this time--though there's still plenty of the assertive instrumental phrasing that made him an artist to watch.

Zinfidelity's sound is as tight as a freshly washed G-string, It's frisky ambiance is summed up by the Blaxploitation-referencing "Zinn Bootyism," a party-time dialogue set against a funky backbeat. Capped by a conversation between Zinn and a potential sexual conquest, the track drives home the Zinfidelity theme and sets the tone for the album's ultra-cool vibe. Across the 12-track project, Zinn mixes originals with rearrangements of obscurities by the likes of Tiny Powell and Sammy Taylor, yet the disc works as a unified whole. Of note is a version of "Treat You Like A Queen" (reworked from Zinn's 1996 release Sittin' & Waitin') that owes much to bassist Randy Bermudes and organist Bob Welsh. "Lucille"--another remake, this one from 1999's Confessin'--jumps off the page, updated with a hint of urban funk.

"The Real Stuff" is a high -energy jam driven by pleading vocals and a distinctive solo. Zinn's cover of Taylor's "Ain't That Some Shame" locks onto a powerful groove that recalls soul singers of yesterday, aided by slick horn charts, big-bottomed bass, and a pulsing rhythm. The love tune "Put Your Hand in Mine" adds a distinctive splash of reggae, and the flashback to another era continues with Zinn's doo-wop original "Love Him or Leave Him," sung a capella.

This is a brand new Rusty Zinn, openly rejoicing in having discovered his voice, It's impossible to overplay Zinfidelity, especially in the warm bath of summertime. Four albums into his career, Zinn has delivered the record we've been waiting for."