Rusty Zinn's not your average guitar-wielding blues protege. He's rockabilly rolled up with Chicago swing; down-home Mississippi mixed with uptown New Orleans. He combines the sound of the Big Bopper with the style of T-Bone Walker. Maybe it's his Santa Cruz, Calif., upbringing, or his work with acts such as Jimmy Rodgers, Kim Wilson and James Cotton. Or perhaps it's the variety of musical experience he brings to "Confessin'": Jimmy Pugh from the Robert Cray Band and Boz Scaggs; Richard Innes from Canned Heat and the Fabulous Thunderbirds; Charles Baty, Ronnie James Weber and Rick Estrin from "Little Charlie and The Nightcats." No matter what the reason; Zinn's second album for Black Top Records is paved with hot licks and cool tunes. The CD starts out on a decidedly rockabilly note with "Best of Luck Baby," then travels into a clever, up-tempo ode to "Mimi." The Gospel All Stars ride along with Zinn on several numbers, including the mournful "Don't Let it be in Vain." The album gets more bluesy with tracks such as "Lucille," "Sad Old Lonesome Day," and "Come Get These Blues Up Off Me." Zinn started playing guitar at 17, a few years after he got hooked on the blues in the 1980s by listening to his older brother's record collection. A little more than a decade later, he's a respected frontman hitting the blacktop on a full-fledged tour. Keep your ears open; Zinn's poised to swing into the next generation of great bluesmen.
Black Top Records BT-1151
Distributed by Alligator Records:
This review is copyright © 1999 by Patrick O'Donnell, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.