Bob Corritore. Photo Credit: Marilyn Szabo
"A Chicago native, "Smilin' Bob" Corritore heard his first blues song when he was 12--the classic Muddy Waters cut "Rolling Stone." He bought his first blues record, The Best of Muddy Waters, not long after; followed in short order by a harmonica. By his late teens, Corritore was sitting in with great players in blues clubs on Chicago's south side, getting schooled by the likes of Magic Slim, Honeyboy Edwards and Mighty Joe Young. By his early 20s, Corritore had his own record label (one of the records he produced, Louisiana Red's Sittin' Here Wonderin', was rereleased last year and nominated for the W.C. Handy "Best Traditional Blues Album" award). And in 1981, at the age of 25, the young blues scholar moved to Phoenix.
"I was thinking I'd only stay a year, and then return to the music scene that I loved," Corritore says. "As it turned out, I took on a mission to show people here what down-home blues is all about."
Since his transplant, Corritore has played harp with numerous Valley blues acts, founded a weekly radio show respected for its authoritative presentation of the blues (Those Lowdown Blues, Sunday nights from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on KJZZ-FM 91.5) and turned the Rhythm Room into a blues club with a reputation as a venue for connoisseurs of the form; booking acts with an ear for authenticity over commercial polish. Last September, Corritore brought in Fat Possum Revue, a traveling caravan of juke-joint bluesmen from the Deep South who played two hours of droning, bone-crushing-heavy blues. Financially, the show was a disaster. But for the 40 people in the audience that night, it was a hypnotic wonder. "Some shows," says Corritore, "just have to be done." (from an interview by David Holthouse)