Steve Ditzell & Blue Lightning reunion

Steve Ditzell & Blue Lightning reunion

By Lisa Palmeno

By Lisa Palmeno

Staff Writer

Steve Ditzell & Blue Lightning will hold a reunion at Rocky’s at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 at 5314 N. 2nd Street in Loves Park.

Rock and blues guitarist Steve Ditzell formed the group with Marty Bender (drums) and Dave Kaye (bass) in 1988, and the three

have played their home town of Chicago frequently, as well as Rockford and many towns in between. Ditzell was recently in

Florida visiting his family and says he is looking forward to playing Rocky’s and getting back together with the original members of Blue Lightning. Each has had other commitments with different bands and projects, so Ditzell has on occasion hired

alternate bassists and drummers.

Known for his guitar mastery and smooth, bluesy vocals, Ditzell offers up traditional blues and classic rock from Elmore James-style slide guitar to Waylon Jennings to ZZ top, throwing in a mixture of his own originals such as “Packin’ Up,” “Blues for Theresa,” and “I Got Over It.” The group went into the studio in October where they recorded seven songs, five Ditzell originals and two Kaye originals “Get Back” and “Your Move.”

Ditzell actually moved to Chicago from New York State where he had already been performing professionally for 10 years. Moving to Chicago led him to the blues clubs, a move which put him in the position to share the stage with legendary performers

such as Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Big Mama Thornton, Koko Taylor, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Chuck Berry, Keith Richard, Robert Plant, Tom Waits, Stevie Ray Vaughan and many others. He toured internationally with Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor from 1979 to 1990 and with Wells and Van Morrison in 1994. Career highlights include being a five-time RAMI Awards nominee and a winner of the Best of Rockford Award in ’96, ’97 and ’99.

With Blue Lightning, Ditzell played at the Waterfront Festival and performed at the Rockford Blues Festival in 1998 and 1999.

Kaye is a member of Liz Mandville Greeson’s band in Chicago. Kaye recorded on all of the tracks on her second CD, Ready To Cheat, and on her newest CD Back In Love Again, released February 14 at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn. Kaye holds Monday and Wednesday night open jam sessions in Chicago, performing with his brother Greg Kaye as Brothers K and The Rock Bottom Blues Band. He is also a regular with Mike Gibb and the Home Wreckers. Gibb and Kaye were with Greeson in November 2001 at the Sarasote Blues Fest in Florida, opening for Delbert McClinton, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Hubert Sumlin. Kaye says he was raised on Muddy Waters Led Zeppelin and Jack Bruce, perfecting a solid bass foundation that has taken him across North America for nearly 20 years working with Joe Kelley, Bo Diddley, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Junior Wells.

Bender met Ditzell while they were both playing for Junior Wells, gigging together for 10 years. When Buddy Guy and Wells

branched off, Bender went with Buddy Guy’s band, Ditzell with Wells. Bender went on to work with guitar master Albert Collins. His most recent regular gig was with Deborah Coleman and he is currently freelancing.

Steve Ditzell fans won’t want to miss this one. The boys plan to make it a party, and it’s free. For more information, call Rocky’s at 877-0378.

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