For guitarist and singer Rusty Wright, it’s “all about the moment,” commanding the stage to deliver the musical heat, the infectious grooves and the penetratingly sincere songs that have earned the Michigan native an international audience and recognition as a Master Blues Artist in the International Blues Hall of Fame®.
Reared in a fertile musical environment that included spinning his auto plant worker dad’s vast collection of vintage blues records and playing guitar in his gospel-singing mother’s touring group starting at age 13, Wright knew from the get-go what he was born to do.
“I hear music all the time. My head, my soul is filled with it. I can’t imagine not creating and making music,” says Wright, who started writing music, assembling bands and playing the club circuit in Flint and the Detroit area as a teenager.
“I loved the blues from childhood because there was such emotion behind it. You listen to some of that Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker or Howlin’ Wolf, and there’s just some incredible emotion flowing out of it. You could just feel it like you were there.”
That same sort of passion propels Wright’s music and live performances. It’s what’s driven him to spend thousands of hours, he says, “learning my craft, cutting my fingers, cramping my hands, and failing and going back and working even harder. There’s a huge emotional investment in becoming a musician.”
The band’s most recent album, 2015's Wonder Man reached #8 on the Billboard Blues chart and was nominated for Album of the Year in the Vintage Guitar Magazine Reader's Choice Awards. 2013’s This, That & The Other Thing earned widespread radio airplay across North America, won Blues411’s Jimi Award for Contemporary Album of the Year and spent months at the top of Relix Magazine's Jambands.com chart.
“I have a lot of influences. I don’t just fit in one little space. I do bluesy stuff, but I’m not afraid to experiment,” he insists. “I’m trying to find a way to take the blues farther down the road that will appeal to a younger generation as well. I’m not afraid to bring in other styles of music. But I want it to have passion. You never want to lose the passion and the joy of that music and what it’s trying to express.”
That approach sets the Rusty Wright Band apart from the pack, with its music seamlessly assimilating everything from early prog-rock to “the intricate melodies and harmonies and counter-rhythms” of the Allman Brothers to the “cool riffs” and “right-in-the-pocket” grooves of Chicago blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin to the “big heavy bass beats” of electronic music.
It’s all blended with the forthright, honest nature of Wright’s plight-of-the-common-man lyrics, partly the product of growing up in an auto industry town that’s seen its ups and downs. The idea, says Rusty, is to craft “great grooves that are really strong and fun to listen to and that people can dance to” in songs that also “express some ideas.”
“Over the past decade, Michigan hasn’t produced a more compelling rock-infused blues outfit.”
John Sinkevics, LocalSpins.com
"You don't need to take ---- from anybody. You're great."
Buddy Guy, Kennedy Center Honors recipient
“Rusty you guys were smokin' tonight. Bravo!”
Charlie Musselwhite, Grammy Award winning blues artist
"A powerhouse of blues that thrilled the crowd."
Fort Pierce Jazz & Blues Society
“I’ve been around a long time. This was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.”
Dan Welsh, Event Center at Colorama
"I thought RWB was the hit of the day,"
Larry Lisk, WMNF's 'Mo Blues' show [2018 Clearwater Sea Blues Festival]
“The Rusty Wright Band (RWB) put on a professional tour-quality show in front of a captivated sold-out house at Sarasota’s Blue Rooster… These are superb musicians who deliver a performance that is every bit as good as the touring acts that we are accustomed to seeing in Florida this time of the year. Searing and versatile guitar licks from Rusty accompany ear pleasing vocal harmonies from Rusty, Laurie, and Nic. Playing a wide-ranging style of music that while not totally blues is infused with enough blues riffs and adherence to tradition to pacify most blues fans. This is music meant to appeal to a wider audience and on that point the band hits the mark with room to spare.”
Suncoast Blues Society, show review, The Blue Rooster, 2021
"The Rusty Wright Band is just simply amazing and must be seen, heard and completely experienced to truly appreciate these phenomenal musicians enjoying their craftmanship."
Lou Phoenix, Phoenix Radio
MR.and MRS. WRIGHT sure kept the CROWD ROCKIN' all afternoon last Sunday! The Rusty Wright Band’s fine mix of BLUES, ROCK and POP won them a RIOTOUS encore from the assembled music fans.
Earl's Hideaway Lounge & Tiki Bar
“The crew here at Concept Production can’t wait to work with you folks again. We had an incredible time at Gasparilla [Pirate Fest] in Tampa.”
Angelo Patane, Concept Production Events and Services, LLC
Shane Lawler, Director, Lkld Live
"They were awesome. Easy to work with, and great people. You won't be disappointed. We certainly weren't!"
Kevin J. Barry, Bonita Blues Festival