By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
After more than a two-and-a-half year hiatus, Americana Roots ensemble, The Mystix, will be kicking off a 10-show national tour this Thursday (May 17) evening at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center (The Z) for a three-hour show beginning at 7:30 p.m.
With a lineup of accomplished musicians and a catalog of catchy songs that pay tribute to influential blues, gospel and country artists, the “Roots Ramble Tour” will showcase the bands fourth studio album, “Mighty Tone.” The album features guest artists, such as harp legend Jerry Portnoy, who has toured and recorded with Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton, and will join The Mystix onstage throughout the tour.
“He’s a master showman,” says Jo Lily, guitarist and lead vocalist of The Mystix. “Just to hear his stories of being on the road with Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton is great. It’s going to be a very down to the ground show in sort of an organic way, as opposed to an electric rock and roll performance.”
Lily, formerly of Boston’s Duke & the Drivers, says the 12-track album is earning stellar reviews in Europe. Further, Boston radio stations like WUMB, as well as The River, are giving it steady airplay.
“We’re really excited about the new record,” he says. “The music is different in a better way. We’re all very proud of it and feel it’s our best work.”
Recorded in Saugus, Mass., at B.K. Studios, the album is a mix of originals and covers. While it took the band a year to prepare for recording, they were able to lay down the tracks in less than four days.
Also, the album marks the first in which Lily was able to star as a producer. He credited engineers Joe Thomas, Tim Phillips, as well Bobby B. Keyes, guitarist for The Mystix, for making the process smooth.
“It was great because we were all very organized,” says Lily.
Aside from Lily, The Mystix all-star veteran lineup consists of legendary artists who have performed and recorded with some of the countries most respected musicians. While Keyes has worked with artists such as Robin Thicke and Jerry Lee Lewis and has written songs for art Mary J. Blige and Li’l Wayne, drummer Marty Richards has played alongside Gary Burton, Duke Robillard, J. Geils Band, and Joe Perry of Aerosmith.
Moreover, bassist Marty Ballou has worked with John Hammond, Edgar Winter, as well as Robillard; and keyboardist Tom West has shared stages with Susan Tedeschi and Peter Wolf.
Additionally, the band will be joined by Kevin Barry, a lap steel/dobro player, who just wrapped up a tour with Ray LaMontagne; percussionist Dennis McDermott, who has played with Roseanne Cash and Mark Cohn; and fiddle player Matt Leavenworth, who has worked with the John Lincoln Wright Band.
“It’s a great joy to be able to be creative with such good players and have people around you that support that effort,” says Lily. “We all bring different ideas to the table about how to approach new material. It’s a lot of fun and we’re grateful to be able to do it.”
Aside from the show at The Z, the band will perform at New England venues, including the Amazing Things Arts Center in Framingham, Mass., on June 1 and Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, N.H., on June 12th, among other venues.
In the near future, they hope to head to Europe.
“We’re itching to go, so we’ll see,” Lily says.
To purchase general admission tickets for Thursday’s show at The Z, which will allow guests to step through their red stage door on Spring Street and find the stage transformed into an intimate concert club complete with a full bar, visit zeiterion.org or call 508-994-2900. Tickets are just $20.
“Like” The Mystix on Facebook and get a free download of their new single, “Mighty Love” and visit themystix.com for more information.