How Hitman Got The Blues

Comments: 31

Guitar playing astronaut

By now, you’ve probably heard our music, and (hopefully) it struck a chord with you (see what I did there?)  You may be wondering if this is just another band, here today/gone tomorrow.  Or if Hitman is really a dedicated musician or just a hobbyist. 

Well, here’s a brief bio.  But if you clicked on the link in the email, you might want to just see the part that I said concerns you.  If so, skip down to here.

I always wanted to be a musician.

Ok, that’s a lie. There was a period, when I was eight, when I wanted to be an astronaut.  Then a herpetologist, because I liked reptiles.  But my dad was a musician, and by the time I was nine I was back to wanting to play music.  And, I was told I was pretty good at poetry, and I particularly liked limericks and haikus (There once was a man from Nantucket…)  Long, wordy poems bored me, but I read everything I could get my hands on. Which I still do.

So at the age of 13, I had already been in a couple of kid bands as a singer, and done some little gigs.  Although Dad was a world famous jazz vibist and drummer, he also did “club dates” – weddings, corporate affairs, etc., because they paid well and we needed the income.  So I started taking guitar lessons from the late great Joe Monk.  I also became a “bandboy”, the guy who drags in and sets up the bandleader’s stuff and the PA.  Dad played drums with Stuart White, of Steven Scott music, and I spent hundreds of hours hearing songs ranging from Gershwin, Porter, and Berlin to then-current hits.  I couldn’t help but learn them, just by repetition.  I also formed a series of bands with a friend, Doug Tow, and started writing songs.

By 16, I was playing club dates myself.  I also performed in a progressive rock band that played original tunes.  We never made decent money, or got the regular night club gigs the pop cover bands got, but I didn’t care because the club dates paid well enough.  So while those bands played five or six nights a week, and had built-in crowds from the clubs, we played five or six times a month.  You see, the agencies did NOT want a band that played originals – period.  And, being stubborn, I refused to NOT play them.  But we had a good draw, and did some very cool gigs.

Fast forward a couple of decades.  I was still doing club dates, was married with children (good name for a tv show, right?), still writing, still trying for that brass ring by sending out original tunes to various publishers.  I had a house, a mortgage, and I hustled day and night to pay for it all, since I didn’t have an actual “job”.  I was a freelance musician.  And one day, I got a call from some guy who had a blues band.  Now, I had a vague understanding of the blues. Like every other guitarist alive, I had played “Red House” and “Stormy Monday”.  But this guy had about 30 tunes, most of which I’d never heard before.

And I loved it.  Sure, I still loved all the other stuff, like Beatles and Hendrix and Stones, the Dead and ELP and Jethro Tull and Genesis, Slade and Alice and Zappa, and dozens of others – plus the jazz I grew up hearing.  But something about this music just got me.  I could honestly see myself playing this for the rest of my life, even as an old man.

And then Stevie Ray burst onto the scene, and eventually blues became “cool” again.  So I played all the clubs in the New York area – Nightengales, Dan Lynch, Kenny’s Castaways, Chicago Blues (where I got my moniker of Hitman for the final time, and decided to keep it) and many more.  But after awhile, something started to bother me.

It was the same stuff, over and over again.  I mean, sure, I love the greats.  Elmore James, my guitar hero Johnny Winter, Slim Harpo, Muddy, BB, Buddy, Hooker, and probably another 50 names you may know.  But how many times can you play “Killing Floor”, especially if you never actually worked in a meat packing plant?  And, I definitely WASN’T “born in Chicago in 1941”.  I needed to do songs that reflected my somewhat (ahem) colorful life.

Like the supposed Chinese curse says, I’ve lived in interesting times.

So I started writing tunes taken from my life and experiences.  And I hoped that other people would hear them and relate.  Now, after six albums (seven if you count the solo album I did in 2017) it seems I’ve hit that mark more times than I’ve missed it.

Because I feel that’s what it’s all about.  Writing something that either helps someone celebrate a good time, or gets them through a bad time.  And, when we do a live show, the goal is give people a little break from life.  Something they can look back on and smile about, and think “I’m glad I was there.”

My aspiration is that the Hitman Blues Band can give you that.  A little break, or a smile, or just knowing that someone has gone through a bad time and not only got through it, but got through it enough to write and record a song about it.

The blues is hope.


  • Douglas Wilcoxen says:

    Blues Is Life
    And Life Is Good

  • Terry jackson says:

    The blues are the most purist form of music,it comes from deep inside and everyone has the blues

  • Alan Cee says:

    I feel ya sbout the Blues….I too always wanted to be a professional musician but I too went the route if my father. He owned resturaunts, little neighborhood dinners was his thing. I went further and became an Executive Chef…with a wife, 5 kids and a mortgage ect. I have recently retired and am having a blast persuing my life-long goal or passion if you will. I play a decent Blues Harp andxam taking keyboard/piano lessons in preparation for picking up my trombone after about a 40 year hiatus. Anyway…keep on keeping on Hitman and I Will run in to you in person one day….hopefull sooner rather than later.

    • The Hitman Blues Band says:

      Glad to hear you’re getting back into playing! I know a lot of people who returned to playing after the kids were grown, or after retirement. But just to get you ready for your trombone debut:
      Q. What’s the difference between a dead snake in the road and a dead trombone player in the road?
      A. The snake was probably on his way to a gig

      Q. How do you make a trombone player’s car go faster?
      A. Take the Domino’s Pizza sign off the roof

      Q. What’s the difference between a trombonist and a large Domino’s pizza?
      A large Domino’s pizza CAN feed a family of four

      Q. How do you make a trombone sound like a french horn?
      A. Stick your hand in the bell and play all the wrong notes.

      Ok, I’ll stop now…

      Thanks for posting!

  • Fred Dodds says:

    Great story “Hitman”
    I also love the blues. Guess that makes us “BLUES BROTHERS” LOLOL!!
    No other genre of music has that “EMOTIONAL IMPACT” like the blues does.

  • John OBrien says:

    Thanks for sticking with music and especially the blues.
    Your music is awesome!!

  • Bobbyd says:

    Listening to the pale rider album right now. Diggin it. Give us a heads up when your down in Cajun country. Sounds like a good live show

  • Bradley Hall says:

    Download wouldn’t open so I have no idea what it sounds like.

    • The Hitman Blues Band says:

      Hey Bradley,

      Just sent you a private email. If anyone else has a problem getting the downloads, please let us know. Thanks!

  • Tony Velotta says:

    I just started playing an instrument (electric bass guitar) at the age of 47. I do love the blues from all the people that you had mentioned. My father is also a musician playin the accordion as polkas and waltzes are his thing which I enjoy listening! Once I get better at the bass I would like to play with his band even though I like the groove of the Blues! We both might have something in common.

    Have a great day!

    • The Hitman Blues Band says:

      Polkas are fun! We were playing in Austria and there was a big crowd at this venue. Mixed ages, lots of young people. After we got done, a polka came on the speakers and everyone – I mean EVERYONE – started dancing. They were really into it, so it was great to watch. Plus, I played with a German band (traditional, but I didn’t have to wear laderhosen) for a few months so I did a lot of polkas and traditional songs. It’s fun stuff when it’s done right!

  • Mark H says:

    A great gig at St Harmonica’s on Friday. I came away with “The World Moves On” and it’s a great CD. The stories behind the songs were good as well. A download release of the current set on your (short) UK tour would be worth having as well.

  • Lawrence F Blessman says:

    You are easy to connect with. I find that refreshing. I’m hoping to be able to catch a live show when things kick off again. I’ve loved listening to Not My Circus, Not My Monkey.

    • The Hitman Blues Band says:

      Hi Lawrence! Sorry I didn’t see this until now. Thank you so much for your purchases – it was really helpful! Did you kike the other albums?

  • peeeter says:

    Hi big boys I m really happy to listen you Thanks to Got O Blues Radio I met your sound and voices and instruments and words… Its really pleasure to hear songs where all together is pushing excellent music Let s make it again and again Congratulations Peeeter

  • Mr Derek Pettit says:

    I saw you a couple of times when you came to England and am really looking forward to seeing you back here soon. Really enjoyed your shows and listening to your albums. Stay safe and keep doing what you do.

    • The Hitman Blues Band says:

      Thanks Derek! We’re looking forward to coming back at the end of October – here’s the itinerary:

      Fri 29 Oct St Harmonica’s Blues Club, London N14.
      Sun 31 Oct The Pheasantry Jazz Club, London SW3.
      Wed 3 Nov Riverside Rhythm Club, Gillingham, Kent
      Thu 4 Nov Farnham Maltings, Surrey
      Sun 7 Nov Blues At The Tropic, Ruislip
      Tue 9 Nov Henry’s Blueshouse, Birmingham
      Thu 11 Nov Blues Bar Tring, Herts
      Sat 13 Nov Milborne St Andrew Village Hall, Dorset
      Sun 14 Nov The Factory Live, Worthing, Sussex
      Thu 18 Nov Eel Pie Club, Twickenham
      Sat 20 Nov Cathcart Castle Golf Club, Glasgow
      Sun 21 Nov Hope Tavern, Lincolnshire

      let me know if you can make it to any of them – email me at

  • Mary Cooper says:

    Thank you for sharing your story it was a great read. I will keep my eye out for your schedule since you won’t be in my neck of the woods yet.

  • Frank Dicker says:

    Love these guys. Love the big sound. Great show band. Each member knows his instrument in and out. Great caliber of playing. Song writing is at a top level. This tour will show all how solid the band is.

  • Larry ford says:

    So very good rockin blues songs

  • Jerry Winsett says:

    Sent your upcoming schedule to my pals in the UK and telling them that they have GOT to see you in person!!

    Also insisting they send me some swag!!

    I know you will be AWESOME!!

    • The Hitman Blues Band says:

      And THAT is as cool as it gets! Thanks so much for your support. We’ve had three out of four shows sold out, I’m hoping the rest will be sold out as well (the one in Scotland is sold out too, but they’re trying to add seats). Although we probably still won’t break even, this kind of help really keeps us going! Thank you, Jerry!

  • Dave Hoad says:

    Loving the tunes, especially “Not my circus, not my monkey”. Got tickets for Worthing on Sunday and looking forward to a great night’s rockin’ blues.

  • Noel Buckley says:

    Good to hear from you, I’m a retired rock drummer, played quite a bit of blues stuff all over Australia. Mate, do what you feel is fun while you can, it’s boring when it ends.. I agree totally with your attitude about original music, I definitely didn’t do it all those years to find out how good I could play someone else’s stuff either best to y’orl

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