Joel Zoss-Florida Blues
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6 Reviews of Florida Blues
Joel Zoss review…July 30, 2015…
Posted July 30, 2015 by dvcrow56 Sheryl and Don Crow,
The Nashville Blues Society



Guitarist Joel Zoss began his career in Chicago, working with many blues legends, opening shows for Etta James and B. B.  His stock as a composer took off after Bonnie Raitt cut two of his songs, “Too Long At The Fair” and “I Gave My Love A Candle.”  His latest set, recorded with his acoustic trio, is “Florida Blues.”  Recorded and mixed by Grammy winner Ron Taylor at Echo Beach Studios in Jupiter, FL, Joel combines his own compositions with a few classics that showcase his brilliant fingerpicking skills.  His trio consists of Jeff Adkins on bass, Matt Calderin on drums, and Jeff Harding, the set’s producer, on guitar on one cut.

The set starts with the easy groove of “Have You Seen My Rider,” with its tales of a “bad moon rising” and “hoodoo you,” with a fine solo at the bridge.  “Papers Of Light” follows a samba-esque pattern, while the old-time feel of “Albert’s Song” takes a tongue-in-cheek look at life in The Sunshine State, full of “pythons in my back yard” and where it’s “too damn hot to contemplate.”

He does two fine covers also.  “Key To The Highway” has that sweet solo from Jeff Harding, while “Goodnight Irene” has a rolling rhythm pattern repeated throughout.

We had two favorites, too.  If “Vodka And Red Bull” doesn’t cause your heart to blow outta your chest, you are bound to “get a good buzz on!”  And, perhaps the set’s most intriguing cut is an ode to homeless vets, “Street Vet Chant.”  Many of them suffer in silence, admittedly “disenfranchised and scary as Hell,” and whose best friends are “my forty-four and my three-five-seven!”

Joel Zoss, on “Florida Blues,” plays these blues they way the Delta masters intended–straight from the soul, and just as natural as puttin’ on your walkin’ shoes!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.


August 6, 2015

Chris Spector
Midwest Record
830 W. IL. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047

JOEL ZOSS/Florida Blues:  A former Chicago, white blues boy that really got started on this road when writing for Bonnie Raitt almost 45 years ago, Zoss gets back to his roots with a set that sounds like it might have been recorded at Chess studios in the waning days of anything happening in Chicago with crew of like minded mostly white blues boys that liked the edgy lifestyle but stayed away from bad habits. A tasty anomaly of a record, it's got the wisdom of a cat that's really been there and really done that and isn't trying to hide where he is now even if he likes a journey through the past.  An authentic enough cat to have opened for B. B. King and Etta James on recent vintage tours before they went to their rewards, this is a welcome post card from an old friend for any boomer that spent too much time in the college campus coffee shop and remembers those times in sharper focus than the classes of the day. Check it out as authentic pros are getting harder to find.


BoomerCity Review

August 2, 2105

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AUG 11TH, 2015 

Joel Zoss
Florida Blues

Joel Zoss is a singer, songwriter and award winning author. Although born in Pennsylvania Zoss grew up in New Jersey, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. He graduated from The College of The University of Chicago in 1966. Zoss spent his summers in Martha’s Vineyard where he began performing with Alex and James Taylor.

In 1972 Bonnie Raitt recorded Zoss’ song “Too Long at the Fair” on her breakthrough second album “Give It Up”. Another song of his “I Gave My Love a Candle” appears on Raitt’s 1973 follow up “Takin My Time”. Zoss released his first self titled album in 1974 on Arista Records. He has since performed with many artists including B.B. King, Etta James, John Hartford, Taj Mahal, Vassar Clements and Little Feat. Zoss’ songs have been recorded in multiple genres; from Blues to Bluegrass.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s Zoss authored or co-authored over twenty-five non-fiction books mostly on baseball. “Diamonds in The Rough” written in 1989 with historian John S. Bowman was cited by The New York Times as one of the best baseball books ever written. Zoss is also an International PEN short story winner and won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow of Creative Writing award for his novel “Chronicle” published in 1980.

Zoss didn’t record another album until 2008 when he released “Lila” on his own Catalan label. In 2012 Katie Melua recorded her own version of the song “Too Long at The Fair”.

This new studio recording features the trio of Zoss, acoustic guitar and vocals; Jeff Adkins, bass; and Matt Calderin, drums and percussion. Eight of the ten songs are new originals.

Zoss opens with “Have You Seen My Rider” with the lyric “have you seen my rider, have you seen my seen my pal, have you seen my sister, have you seen my gal”. Other highlights include the relevant “Papers of Light”, the beautiful “Riddle Song”, and the socially appropriate “Street Vet Chant”. My favorite however, and the song that should receive the most amount of airplay, is “Vodka and Red Bull” with the phrase “I got a good buzz on”. “Follow Me I’ll Turn Your Money Green” sounds like its traditional but it’s not. Included are two covers; Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key To The Highway” and Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene”.

Zoss’ songs are haunting melodies with great lyrics evoking beautiful mental images. As a songwriter and performer Zoss is the classic troubadour.

Richard Ludmerer

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Bman’s Blues Report
Bluzpik artist: Joel Zoss - Florida Blues - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Florida Blues, from Joel Zoss and it has a light airy feel. Opening with Have You Seen My Rider, an easy blues with a pop feel. Zoss, a fine vocalist, shows his fluid hand at the fretboard joined by Jeff Adkins on bass and Matt Calderin on drums. A track that is so radio friendly that I feel familiar with it already, Papers of Light, has a contagious melody and brilliant simplicity. Blues based Vodka and Red Bull actually reminds me of an old Jonathan Edwards track which carried a lot of popularity alone. Clever vocals and clean guitar picking showcase this track. Very nice. Sentimental ballad, The Riddle Song, is nicely constructed and performed. Another blues toned number, Street Vet Chant, has classic blues guitar riffs and solid vocals. Zoss shows a clear knowledge of musical styling and performance. Big Bill Broonzy's, Key To The Highway, has a fresh modern acoustic feel but with a classic blues arrangement. Nicely articulated guitar soloing by Jeff Harding stands out as well. Two Fish is a simple pop track with a solid melody. Albert's Song has a real nice blues guitar riff repeating throughout although the track maintains a modern pop styling. Very nice! A really slick version of Leadbelly's classic, Goodnight Irene, is a total surprise with it's original rock spin. Wrapping the release is Follow Me I'll Turn Your Money Green that feels so blue I'd swear it's a John Hurt track. Nice blues picking and simple arrangement with solid vocals make this a prime cut to close the release.


Blues Matters Magazine: 
November 26, 2015

Florida based Joel Zoss has had a long career as both a musician, songwriter and prose writer although this is only his third album release in forty three years, the wait has definitely been worth it as this acoustic Folk based Blues album has some excellent original material interspersed with a couple of blues classics originally performed by Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy. Joel is supported by two musicians on Bass and Drums respectively and between them they gently weave the songs into a peaceful pastoral sound that acts as an immediate relaxant, Joel shows plenty of dexterity on the guitar and has a very precise singing style, particularly impressive is Vodka And Red Bull which has a really infectious chorus of “I Got a Good Buzz on” and is one of the albums standout tracks, the other is Albert’s Song which has a strong Country blues style with some delicious finger picking guitar and sorrowful vocals. Joel is probably at a stage in his career where he is classified as a veteran although the music throughout the album is timeless, at times it evokes the 1930’s Country Blues sound but it also has a contemporary feel to it, his song writing is particularly strong and has been recognized in recent years by artists like Bonnie Raitt and Katie Melua who have recorded his material. Highly recommended.

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