Phoenix, Arizona, may not be known as a hotbed for the blues, but as VOA's Doug Levine tells us, one resident is doing his best to make the city a haven for blues fans everywhere.
Had blues enthusiast Bob Corritore not moved to Phoenix from his native Chicago in 1981, the blues scene in Phoenix might still be little-known. Bob was planning to stay for only one year before returning to Chicago, but he couldn't resist the city's quiet charm, and made it his permanent home. Today, metropolitan Phoenix is anything but quiet, its population nearly tripling since 1980. Bob couldn't be happier with the explosive growth.
"It's been really exciting to watch Phoenix grow because it really has become much more of a city," he says. "When I first came here it had a 'wild west,' undeveloped, untamed kind of feel to it. It certainly has become much more of a grown up city now."
Bob went right to work building a blues base. He played harmonica in area bands, launched a weekly blues radio program, opened a blues club, and produced albums for local and national blues acts. His current schedule is just as packed. In fact, he's even busier as the demand for blues continues to grow.
"I wake up every day and I'm completely 'adrenalized,' [energized] from the moment I wake up to the moment I finally fall asleep," he says. "Part of it though is that there is a lot of exciting things going on at all times. Between the music that I'm booking, and I'm playing and performing, touring and recording, and the next thing that needs to happen, there's just always something going on. I get a great joy from doing my radio show every Sunday. It's my time with the recorded music that I love, my way to review the roots of my musical inspiration [through] some of the great old records."
Bob Corritore's club, The Rhythm Room, recently celebrated its 15th anniversary with the release of a live CD titled House Rockin' and Blues Shoutin'! The disc features performances by Henry Gray, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Louisiana Red, Floyd Dixon, Phil Oscher, the late Robert Lockwood, Jr., Bob's house band The Rhythm Room All-Stars, and other Phoenix favorites.
"I'm very proud to say that we've nurtured an audience that expects to hear the real blues," he says. "And that's kind of rare. I go to other towns, see other situations, and I feel blessed. I think we've got a great audience and a great amount of support here in Phoenix, and when I do something really special, more often than not it's recognized in the attendance of the show. You can see the people are excited about that and for the right reasons."
For more on The Rhythm Room, Bob's blues radio show, or his new CD Travelin' The Dirt Road with Mississippi bluesman Dave Riley, visit www.bobcorritore.com.