The Cobalt Rhythm Kings | HOT . . . Like Red Pepper

Go To Artist Page

Recommended if You Like
Howlin' Wolf John Lee Hooker Muddy Waters

Album Links
The Cobalt Rhythm Kings website The Cobalt MySpace Page The Cobalt Sonicbids Electronic Press Kit

More Artists From
United States - Connecticut

Other Genres You Will Love
Blues: Chicago Style Blues: Jump Blues Moods: Mood: Sex Music
Sell your music everywhere
There are no items in your wishlist.

HOT . . . Like Red Pepper

by The Cobalt Rhythm Kings

The deepest shade of blues -- tough, raging and tasty Chicago-style and jump blues from one of New Haven, Connecticut's best-kept musical secrets.
Genre: Blues: Chicago Style
Release Date: 

We'll ship when it's back in stock

Order now and we'll ship when it's back in stock, or enter your email below to be notified when it's back in stock.
Continue Shopping
Buy 2 or more of this title's physical copies and get 10% off
Share to Google +1

To listen to tracks you will need to update your browser to a recent version.

  Song Share Time Download
1. Juicy Fruit
4:08 album only
2. Your Hoodoo Man
4:17 album only
3. Cross-Eyeded Mama
3:16 album only
4. Tougher Than That
4:01 album only
5. Lover's Rock
4:26 album only
6. Howlin' For My Baby
4:07 album only
7. King of the Boogie
5:32 album only
8. Louisiana Bayou
4:41 album only
9. Bad Avenue
7:36 album only


Album Notes
UPDATED April 12, 2010

Hi folks! Greetings -- and welcome to Cobalt Bluesland!

Welcome to one of the Internet homes of The Cobalt Rhythm Kings of New Haven, CT, one of New England\'s best Chicago-style and jump blues bands!

For those of you who haven't been there in a while, or who have never been there, a new is up and running! It's got photos, video, bio information and links to tunes, cool Cobalt merchandise and, of course, this site if you want to come back and buy our CD, "HOT . . . Like Red Pepper."

Come check out our other homes:

the new !!!

UPCOMING GIGS: Yes, we've got 'em!

For an up-to-date listing of our upcoming gigs, please check out our schedule at

The Cobalt Rhythm Kings are booking now for club dates, corporate functions, weddings, house parties, backyard barbecues and the summer and fall fair and festival season! To contact us, please click the e-mail link at the upper left of this page or call us at (203) 415-1670! You also can find everything you need to know on our cool, new "electronic press kit," which can be found at

Want to buy a great Cobalt Rhythm Kings "HOT . . . Like Red Pepper" t-shirt, coffee mug, wall clock, baby bib, mousepad, toasty hooded sweatshirt or barbecue apron? Come visit The Cobalt Rhythm Kings Blues Shop-a-Rama at !

What else you\'ll find down below:

1. The Cobalt Story
2. A little more Cobalt history!
3. Meet The Cobalt Rhythm Kings -- our bios!
4. A little bit about The Cobalt Rhythm Kings\' trip to the King Biscuit Blues Festival.
5. A note on the Connecticut Blues Society\'s Jan. 22 and Feb. 20, 2005 tsunami relief benefits in New Haven, CT.

The Cobalt Rhythm Kings are steeped in the jazzy jump blues of Louis Jordan, Big Joe Turner, Wynonie Harris and the Liggins brothers; the cool, raging West Coast swing blues of William Clarke, Rod Piazza and James Harman, and the hard-edged Chicago blues of Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Junior Wells and Freddie King, to name a few.

Formed in April 1996 as the outgrowth of four guys thrown together onstage one winter Sunday night at the cafe nine blues jam in New Haven, Connecticut, The Cobalt Rhythm Kings have played everywhere from New York City\'s former premier blues club, Chicago B.L.U.E.S., to the New Haven Jazz Festival, where they opened on the New Haven Green for the late Son Seals in August 1999, to the International Festival of Arts & Ideas\' \"Art on the Edge\" festival.

This past Jan. 22, 2006, The Cobalt Rhythm Kings opened the show for the great Johnny Winter in front of a packed house at Toad\'s Place, Connecticut\'s leading music club. The date followed by just over three months the band\'s appearance on Oct. 7, 2005 at the Arksansas Blues & Heritage Festival, formerly the King Biscuit Blues Festival. On July 20, 2002, The Kings opened for blues great Etta James, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas and the Fairfield Four in front of thousands of people at the first New Haven Blues & Roots Festival, also on the New Haven Green.

Other stops along the way have included many of Connecticut\'s better blues and music clubs, from cafe nine and The Blues Cafe in New Haven to Black Eyed Sally's and the Arch Street Tavern in Hartford to The BoxCar in Southport, Conn. Besides Etta, Johnny Winter and Son Seals, they have opened for, backed or appeared with the likes of Phil Guy, Bob Margolin, Pinetop Perkins, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Lurrie Bell, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, Dave Specter, Aron Burton, Debbie Davies, Mark Naftalin, Roomful of Blues, Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Michael Hill's Blues Mob, John Hammond Jr. and Ron Levy & His Wild Kingdom.

The Cobalt Rhythm Kings\' Cobalt Records CD, "HOT . . . Like Red Pepper," contains nine songs -- four originals -- that range from up tempo, danceable jump blues to gritty, grinding Chicago blues and the flat-out boogie of "King of the Boogie," an original tune in memory of the late John Lee Hooker. The CD also includes "Tougher Than That," a powerful tribute to the found American spirit written in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and two other original songs: the bouncing, Chicago-style "Cross-Eyeded Mama" and the steamy, atmospheric "Louisiana Bayou."

In addition to the band\'s originals, the Cobalts are committed to resurrecting some of the great blues and swing numbers of the past and making sure that the people who brought them to the world get proper credit -- while at the same time doing them fresh rather than treating them as relics. Never heard of Buddy Johnson's "A Pretty Girl, a Cadillac and Some Money," Rudy Greene's "Juicy Fruit" or Albina Jones' "What's the Matter With You?" Get ready to boogie!

The current Cobalt lineup includes Chicago-born singer and harmonica player Mark Zaretsky, Chicago native and longtime New Havener Wendell Jones on bass guitar and vocals, Tony Lupia of Berlin, Conn. laying down the beat and Greg Benn of West Haven, Conn. by way of Guilford, Conn. striking the groove on guitar.

To book The Cobalt Rhythm Kings, please click on the e-mail link at the upper left of this page or call us at (203) 415-1670!

A Little (more) Cobalt History . . .

The Cobalt Rhythm Kings grew out of a chance pairing at the long-running Sunday night cafe nine blues jam, when Ansonia, Connecticut-raised cousins guitarist George Lesiw and drummer George Mastrogiannis and their friend, bassist Steve Klunk of Orange, Conn. were thrown together onstage one Sunday night in January 1996 with Chicago-born harmonica player and vocalist Mark Zaretsky.

After several months of wood-shedding in Lesiw\'s basement in Ansonia, the band debuted with a short-running weekly Tuesday night gig at when then was called The Bash at the corner of College and Crown streets in downtown New Haven, Conn. The gig lasted a couple of months, but by then the Cobalts were established and began getting work elsewhere.

The original lineup lasted for the first year or so, when Klunk and later Lesiw decided to move on and do other things. Klunk\'s departure brought Chicago-born bass player and vocalist Wendell Jones to the band. where he remains to this day as its second longest playing member. A few months later, Mastrogiannis also decided to move on, leaving Zaretsky as the only original member by time the band entered its third year -- although both Mastrogiannis and Lesiw have been in and out of the band for multiple periods of time since then!

Zaretsky and Jones were joined for a time by Tom Nagy and later Luke Rodney ( on drums and several different guitarists, most notably New Haven-based, internationally-known blues guitarist Rocky Lawrence ( and, for a short period of time, Eric Ducoff, now of Ryan Hartt and the Blue Hearts ( The band also had a sax player for a few months around that time in Jeff \"JD\" Herzog, and has performed with a horn section on a number of occasions featuring Herzog on sax and Patrick Casey on trumpet as the Hellbound Horns.

The Cobalt Rhythm Kings\' most identifiable and longest-running lineup took shape in May 1999 when Norwalk, Conn.-raised drummer Gil Hawkins Jr. and West Haven, Conn.-raised guitarist Greg Benn joined, just in time to open for the late Son Seals on the New Haven Green as part of the New Haven Jazz Festival. The lineup remained rock solid until August 2005, when Hawkins felt the need to move on and play other things. After performing for a few months with Eran Troy Danner & Hot Dallas, he has hooked up with none other than former Cobalt guitarist George Lesiw to play original jam-based blues-jazz fusion in the George Lesiw Band. ( Good luck guys!

It's all in the Cobalt family . . .

Then, after a year or so's reprise as a Cobalt King by founding drummer George Mastrogiannis and another year or so with Vic Chiapetta as drummer, The Cobalt Rhythm Kings brought on veteran Connecticut drummer Tony Lupia in 2008 as we continue to make some of the best, bluest music we've ever made . . .

Come see for yourself!

We are:

Mark Zaretsky -- Harmonica and vocals

Mark, The Cobalt Rhythm Kings' harp player, front man and creative leader, is the only one of the original four founding members to remain in the band ever since it came together in 1996 at New Haven, Conn.'s cafe nine blues jam.

Mark began his musical career as a student at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he co-founded a blues-rock group called "Automatic Slim" and played with a second blues band backing a character known as "Big Duke." UCSC at that time was a creative crucible where his friends included musicians who would go on to play with Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker, The Monks of Doom, John Hiatt, Rod Piazza and Counting Crows, among others.

Mark put music aside for a number of years as he built his other career as a journalist with New Haven's daily newspaper, the New Haven Register. The blues came roaring back in the mid-1990s, however, when another friend, Kevin Sanchez Walsh, convinced him to play harmonica with one incarnation of the long-running New Haven blues-and-soul band, The Bernadettes.

Mark's interest in the blues began much earlier, however. He was part of a circle of friends that followed around Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, James Cotton, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells and lesser known stars of Chicago blues to see them play in bars and community centers all over Chicago before he was old enough to legally drink in the places they played.

He is an avid record and CD collector who has always sought to expose the great blues stars of the past to today's audiences and make sure that people know where the great old songs The Cobalt Rhythm Kings do in addition to the band's originals came from.

When not playing the blues, Mark lives to travel. He has a serious thing for old diners and other bits of vanishing America. He speaks Spanish, has spent time in recent years in Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, the Caribbean, Hong Kong and Thailand and has an interest in the Andean music of the South American highlands that is almost as strong as his interest in the blues. He thinks the world would be an entirely better place if Los Kjarkas and Ernesto Cavour, Bolivia's greatest contributions to world music, were as well known as The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Wendell Jones -- Bass guitar and vocals

Wendell, who keeps The Cobalt Rhythm Kings in touch with its funkier side, has worked as a musician on three "coasts" -- in New Haven, his current longtime home on the East Coast, in Chicago and along the shores of the Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A native of the South Side of Chicago, Wendell got started early, playing at Chicago's famed Checkerboard Lounge and opening for the likes of James Brown and Ray Charles while still in high school, where he played in a soul band. He spent a decade out in Utah, playing with "Spaces," a jazz fusion group with which he recorded two albums, before moving to New Haven in the 1990s.

Wendell was an integral part of New Haven's early 90's alternative music scene, playing with "Kilgore Trout," among other groups, and working as a founding member of the long-running New Haven funk and R&B band, "Boogie Chillun.'"

In 1997, Wendell replaced founding Cobalt bassist Steve Klunk and has been a Cobalt Rhythm King ever since. Wendell is the longest-running member of the group other than harmonica player Mark Zaretsky. He also plays in one of Connecticut's leading reggae bands, I.N.I.T.Y., which can be booked by e-mailing

When not playing music, Wendell is an avid bicyclist and the coordinator of artists' models at Paier School of Art and other venues. He also works as a model himself.

We like to pitch The Cobalt Rhythm Kings as a rare chance for you all to come see Wendell work with his clothes on!

Greg Benn -- guitar

Greg, the youngest member of The Cobalt Rhythm Kings, is also the only father of the bunch.

His daughter, Jessica, is a familiar site at Cobalt gigs, where she has been known to spin around the microphone stands, sit on the Cobalt "Red Pepper" rug and help keep Mark's harmonica microphone cord from getting tangled up on furniture.

She also occasionally likes to join her daddy on stage.
Jessica's younger twin siblings, Luke & Leigha, should be following suit before too long.

Greg grew up in Norwalk and West Haven, Connecticut, where, like many a budding blues guitarist, he played in Jimi Hendrix and southern rock cover bands in high school before finding his way to the blues.

Now a resident of Guilford, Conn., Greg has an interest in teaching music as well as playing it: he works as a music teacher at Carrigan Middle School in West Haven, Conn. as well as giving private guitar lessons.

Greg holds a teaching certificate in music education from Western Connecticut State University and currently is working towards his master's degree in education.

Now a resident of Guilford, Conn., Greg has an interest in teaching music as well as playing it: he works as a music teacher at Carrigan Middle School in West Haven, Conn. as well as giving private guitar lessons.

Tony Lupia -- Drums

Tony, who has been The Cobalt Rhythm Kings' drummer since January 2008, hails from way upstate in Berlin, CT. (Hey, Connecticut is a small state, so it's like half an hour away -- no biggie.)

A graduate of the music program at the University of Bridgeport, Tony has played with a host of Connecticut jazz, blues, R & B and big bands over the years, including The New Vintage Big Band, High Times, The Rockin' Mambos and many others.

In addition to holding down the drum chair in The Cobalt Rhythm Kings, Tony is the founder and leader of TL & The All-Stars, a fine, six-piece blues and soul band that was a finalist in the 2008 Connecticut Blues Challenge.

When not playing drums, Tony can be found teaching drums, painting houses, working as a property manager and occasionally putting in time behind the counters of some of Connecticut's better music stores.

COBALT BOOKING INFORMATION: To book The Cobalt Rhythm Kings or obtain more information, please drop us a line at, click on the e-mail link at the upper left of this page or call us at(203)415-1670!


The Cobalt Rhythm Kings performed at the 20th Annual Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival -- formerly the King Biscuit Blues Festival -- which took place Oct. 6-8, 2005 in Helena, Arkansas! We played on the festival\'s Alltel Emerging Artist stage from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday night, Oct. 7.

We had a great time at the festival, which took place in the Mississippi River Delta home at various times of Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson II and, for a time, Muddy Waters. It's one of the worl\'s leading blues festivals and we were thrilled to be part of it!

We want to thank the organizers of the festival for inviting us for our first performance outside of the Northeast U.S.!

Wendell -- longtime Cobalt bassist Wendell Jones -- was in a wedding in Connecticut that weekend, so our bassist in Helena was our friend Andy Karlok.

Other King Biscut Fest performers included James Cotton, Bobby Blue Bland, Bobby Rush, Irma Thomas, Honeyboy Edwards, Pinetop Perkins & Bob Margolin, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues, John Primer, Mark Hummel with James Harman and Little Sonny, Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets featuring Sam Myers, Lonnie Shields, Henry Gray, The Kentucky Headhunters, Walter \"Wolfman\" Washington, Willie King, Otis Taylor, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, Paul Geremia, Fruteland Jackson, Cedell Davis, Drink Small, Wallace Coleman and Arthur Williams.

See y'all at next year's Biscuit!




to write a review

Nigel Tolley - UK

Nothing short of fantastic
As a UK Blues fan I buy a lot of American blues music without hearing it first. Sometimes this leads to disappointment. NOT THIS TIME! This album is fantastic. From the opening track Juicy Fruit, this album oozes class. My personal favourite is Tougher Than That closely followed by Bad Avenue. This CD is well worth the purchase price. Hopefully some UK booking agency will book these guys for a European Tour. If they do, I'll be first in line for a ticket!


Solid CD with tasty variety.
Good variety of blues. A mix of jump, west coast and Chicago sounds. This band swings and even deals with some contemporary issues. Very good musicians with outstanding potential. A very solid debut.

Craig Gilbert, New Haven Advocate

This is an honestly solid release that shows more passion than the oodles of blues bands out there that wrongfully worship at the altar of Mayall and Clapton.

Joyce Remo, Gayle's Corner (

This CD has it all -- love, tribute, great lyrics, and a beat to get you up and
I have to tell you, at 3AM, after listening to this CD several times, I couldn't decide whether I wanted to hug them all or kill them all.... Why? Because the beat was so hot, sleep was not going to happen that night . . . Your Hoodoo Man -- Ladies, let me tell you, I was torn between wanting to take the vocalist, Mark Zaretsky, (who not only sings like he's making love to you, but whose harmonica sounds like an extension of his mouth (hmmmmmmm),) home with me, or dancing to the wonderful beat . . . This CD has it all -- love, tribute, great lyrics, and a beat to get you up and moving, even if you were a Zombie . . . Give me the Blues! It's the sound of happiness, it's the heartbeat of the people, it's a provider of joy and peace to the soul.

Zack Rosenberg

Amazing blues album by a great band
This cd is great. I saw the Cobalt Rhythm Kings in Milford, CT last month and I had to buy their cd and t-shirt. They have good versions of classic blues tunes and great originals like "Cross-Eyed Mama", "King of the Boogie", and "Louisiana Bayou". Greg Benn, the band's guitar player, is my music teacher at school, which is how I found out about the band. Also, check them out August 23rd at the Cafe Atlantique in Milford, CT when I jam with the Cobalt Rhythm Kings!!!