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Jason Ricci & New Blood | Rocket Number 9

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Blues: Harmonica Blues Rock: Jam-band Moods: Mood: Virtuoso
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Rocket Number 9

by Jason Ricci & New Blood

A visionary and sonically explosive masterpiece that will shake your foundations.
Genre: Blues: Harmonica Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Rocker
6:59 album only
2. I'm a New Man
5:11 album only
3. Loving Eyes
11:15 album only
4. Dodecahedron
5:16 album only
5. Mr. Satan
3:23 album only
6. Deliver Us
4:39 album only
7. The Blow Zone Layer
3:49 album only
8. The Way I Hurt Myself
6:30 album only
9. The Eternal Is
5:29 album only
10. Snowflakes and Horses
4:36 album only
11. Sonja
6:19 album only
12. Rocket Number 9
10:37 album only


Album Notes
“As a lover of live music, a JRNB show is absolutely exhilarating. Imagine the best virtuoso-filled "jam band" you've ever seen (think early '90's Phish, old Fleck tones, Allmans, Robert Randolph, Derek Trucks, etc.) and then double the energy and stage presence.”
- Blake Taylor (Writer for Cincinnati City Beat)

"Ricci links the jazz mastery of Howard Levy, with the blues precision of Jerry Portnoy and hits speeds that make John Popper look like he's standing still." - Brad Kava (Mercury News)

Jason Ricci is that rare individual that only comes along once in a generation - an artist with the unique ability to help shape and redefine the sound of his chosen instrument and forever change the course of music history. His style is varied and his influences far reaching, having spent countless hours absorbing everything from Sun Ra to Little Walter, the Rolling Stones to the Pixies, Lou Reed to Government Mule, and everything in between. The depth of his music crisscrosses the audible landscape leaving no stone unturned as he fully explores blues, jazz, funk, rock, punk, and even drawing inspiration from the current crop of jam bands, all while still retaining the stamp of his own inimitable style.

Jason has over 10 years experience living life out on the road, and performs over 300 dates a year. New Blood’s live shows have quickly attained legendary cult status with archived performances surpassing downloads on the Internet by popular acts such as the Grateful Dead and Phish. In 2005, the Mercury News even listed the band in their Top Ten Shows of the Year alongside major touring artists including Prince, Rush and Green Day.

Through hard work and dedication Jason Ricci & New Blood have built a solid fan base from the ground up, selling over 12,000 copies of their self produced/released CD “Blood On The Road,” and all without the help of record labels, national distributors, or publicists. Together with guitarist Shawn Starsky, who brings with him an arsenal of creative talent and fresh ideas, and Grammy Award winning producer John Porter at the helm, Jason Ricci & New Blood have created a visionary and sonically explosive masterpiece that is sure to shake your foundations.


The first time I saw Jason Ricci in concert, he played a small California club in front of 15 people. Within a few minutes, I knew that this was one of those shows a critic waits a lifetime for. It was like those first Beatles sets at a club in Hamburg; Bruce Springsteen starting out in Asbury Park; the Rolling Stones at the Marquee Club; or Green Day’s earliest gigs at an East Bay pizza parlor. There was so much energy and so much music, it seemed like the small club would explode. Ricci was bigger than life, and he played like he was in front of 40,000 people. He moved like Steven Tyler, sinuous, and sexy. He had Mick Jagger’s charisma. You couldn’t take your eyes off him for a minute. And he had the Grateful Dead’s stamina, running his band New Blood for four hours, as tight and hot as a racetrack Ferrari.

When he took a short break after two hours, I wanted to tell him to take it easy. He’d already given us more than the biggest names in the business, and he had us at hello. But there was no stopping him. This guy was like the historic touring musicians, the jazz guys who lit up Harlem nightclubs till dawn. His singing was passionate, real, bluesy and ripped. He had you believing every word.

And then, when he picked up the harmonica, something really magical happened. He played like no one else. Imagine John Popper’s speed, mixed with Charlie Musselwhite’s edge, and it still doesn’t quite meet what I heard. I had to go back to the jazz greats, to Charlie Parker or John Coltrane, because he was taking the instrument to places it hadn’t been before. It perfectly fit his eclectic blend of music, with blues roots mixed with punk and jam band rock, some jazz, maybe a bit of country, metal, and Jimi Hendrixian explorations. It was a new genre that has no category in your local disc store. He improvised faster and more furiously than my ears could take in or my brain could wrap itself around. With overbends and overblows, he found notes that aren’t on the ten-hole diatonic harmonica, a technique that only a few players have mastered. He was a speeding train, rocketing to the future -- and don’t let me forget for a minute that his glove tight band was right there too, keeping up and churning with authority. By the time I understood one passage, they had sped five stops down the line. And that’s when you crave a recording, which gives you a chance to hear this magic over and over until you understand it.

As a music critic, I’ve gotten to interview Jason over the years, and he’s as interesting off the stage as on it. He’s a musician who is comfortable talking to his fans, and gives advice to even the biggest harmonica geeks (of which I’m one). Perhaps it was his hard life that made him so easy with others. Growing up flamboyant and gay in rural Maine, he was an outsider, spending his early years alone practicing his instrument. Then he heard his mentor, Pat Ramsey, who was most noted for his work with Johnny Winter. He moved to Nashville and waited tables, while taking weekly lessons. He did jail time for drugs, a rite of passage for a young musician. Before long he was touring with other great bands, such as Junior Kimbrough and his son, David; R.L. Burnside, and Big Al and the Heavyweights. But straight blues couldn’t contain his energy, anymore than Jimi Hendrix could have stuck with his early job as a backup musician for Little Richard or the Isley Brothers. Ricci had to launch his own path.

You are about to experience this for yourself, on a well-produced disc that should be the ticket to bring Ricci to a mass audience. He and guitarist Shawn Starsky, bassist Todd “Buck Weed” Edmunds and drummer Ron Sutton worked with British producer John Porter to get this explosive mixture into a container that is surprisingly listener friendly and may even break the ruthless bonds of radio and get some airplay. Porter has produced an eclectic lot that includes the Smiths, Billy Bragg, Los Lonely Boys, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Ryan Adams, another musical terrorist who may be roots-rock’s answer to Ricci. Ricci says he knew he had the right guy when he heard that Porter did both Morrissey and Buddy Guy. That’s the kind of eclectic territory that few inhabit, but they understand each other when they meet. You’ll understand too, when you launch this disc in your player and catch a tremendous range of music from gut bucket blues to classic rock, to out of the planets jazz. Just by holding this in your hand, you are ahead of the curve; you are what we in Silicon Valley call an early adaptor. Put “Rocket Number 9” on your player, strap on your seat belt and get ready for the ride of a lifetime.


01. “The Rocker”

“This is a song about the paranoia and love/hate relationship an addict feels with his lifelong marriage to dope, sober or not. For me, it’s mostly about crack cocaine, hence the name “The ROCKer,” plus it rocks, but I put in a few heroin references for all my junkie friends. Shawn made sure the music rocked as hard, or harder, than the words.”

02. “I’m a New Man”
“I wrote this on my way to jail and finished it six months or so in. It’s a piece about “the boy who cried wolf” or, less metaphorically, the boy who cried: “I’ve changed, I’m sorry, I’ll never do it again, I’m a new man”. Then one day he finally does change, but because of his history of dishonesty no one believes him. He understands why, but can’t do any thing but say all the same crap he said before, knowing it all sounds like bullshit and partially doubting it himself on some level.”

03. “Loving Eyes”

“This is my favorite piece I have ever written lyrically because I’m often wordy and this tune is not. The words are about surrender, non-attachment, eternal life, and death in a positive light. Musically it’s Junior Kimbrough meets the Byrds. Buck Weed called the harp solo in it “Faganinni”...it’s a compliment because he knows how much I love all those Paganinni caprices and concertos and he likes them too... Buck loves gay people in a straight football kind of way and wouldn’t use any hateful terminology unless it rhymed and was funny as he is the most articulate person I know.”

04. “Dodecahedron”
“A Dodecahedron is a twelve-sided pyramid that some people theorize is the shape of the Universe. Shawn wrote this one entirely and Michael Peloquin’s Sax performance on this version is so cool it will make it real hard to play it without him! Thanks M.P.!”

05. “Mr. Satan”
“At first, this tune was a little vamp Shawn was playing for a while in the hotel rooms and at sound checks. One day I was thinking about Sterling McGhee a lot (Mr. Satan) and I just started singing these words and it finally came together. This is how almost all our tunes are written. It was tricky getting used to the extra measure of one that Shawn wrote but luckily that part is only on the vamp and not during the versus or solo! Shawn writes a lot of things that sound natural, that in form are very unnatural; he speaks this way too. The harp solo is a nod to Mr. Satan’s counterpart, Adam Gussow, one of my early influences. Adam often plays some very cool stuff using a lot of major notes in 3rd position, it’s a funky and pretty way to treat 3rd position which is all too often clichéd with the more naturally available minor riffs that 3rd position lends itself to and has a history of.”

06. “Deliver Us”

“In an anonymous recovery program I learned early on to try and look at oneself in situations of conflict to understand what went wrong and how to prevent further problems. I can’t, despite all my efforts past, present and future, control what people will or won’t do, but I can change what I do and how I react. I am not good at this yet. This is yet another song to add to the millions that were written on Sept. 11th. The difference between this and most of the others is that I wrote it not as a U.S. Citizen, and not as some one who was surprised or shocked, but as a member of the human race wanting to take responsibility and bring awareness to the fact that all our actions do create equal reactions...In short, one line in the song sums it up: “I’m not my brother’s keeper I am my brother.” Some of the lyrics could also be a lengthier nod to the bumper sticker ‘Lord, protect me from your followers.’”

07. “The Blow Zone Layer”(Mongoose Nuts Not Possum Pussy)

“Hopefully Mike Nazarenko will be using this title for the name of his killer new album, I almost called this record “Blow Zone Layer” but I didn’t, and no one took the suggestion seriously anyway, so I hope the great Naz uses it. This instrumental was originally titled “Dat There” until John Porter hipped us that Cannonball already had a tune titled that. Additionally, the great C.A. had another follow up tune called “This Here” so obviously he deserves to have that title all to himself. Then I wanted to call it “Master Blaster” but found out Stevie Wonder had that one too! So I named it “Mongoose Nuts” out of spite, knowing no one had a tune called “Mongoose Nuts”, then Shawn said to call it “Possum Pussy” instead...so for a few days it was called “Mongoose Nuts, Not Possum Pussy” until I thought of “The Blow Zone Layer” so that all the Dj’s wouldn’t be afraid to play it on the radio. People need to grow Mongoose Nuts not Possum Pussy in order to enter the Blow Zone Layer. Wouldn’t it have been funny if in the movie “Breakin’” some one had insulted the character Ozone by calling him “Blow Zone.”? If Johnny from the “Karate Kid” had been in the movie “Breakin’” he would have definitely called Ozone “Blow Zone” just before he beat him up, and Ozone used to dance instead of fight and didn’t know Mr. Miyagi at all so he would have got his ass kicked by Cobra Ki Karate and called “Blow Zone.” Now that’s cool!”

08. “The Way I Hurt Myself”

“This slow blues is about the desperation and inability to trust my own thoughts and actions that I had at one time in my life. It’s meant to convey a longing for peace and a hatred I had for myself while I felt like I was being controlled by an unseen, dark force which mostly, at that time, looked like addiction. Now, even though I’m nine years sober, I still often feel a sinister force battling for my soul and happiness, although it comes in other forms than it use to. It’s basically an ode to self-destruction and to people that seem to have that need genetically imprinted within themselves. Sometimes I sing this song to some one, instead of in first person, usually to my father who has passed on. I miss you Dad.”

09. “The Eternal Is”
“Shawn wrote this one. The title, like Dodecahedron, was inspired by a discussion during a commercial break of Coast-to-Coast AM with Art Bell. We have many inspirational moments surrounding this radio show. This is also something Shawn played at sound check then took to the stage usually as a set starter/ender. Note where the bridge comes in for Shawn’s signature timing. I think the closest word there is to what God is, is “IS”. Maybe Shawn does too, ask him...I think that’s how this started. Also, Weed rips a nice solo on this one.”

10. “Snow Flakes and Horses”

“I wrote this while I was living with David “Malone” Kimbrough, Junior’s oldest son, in Potts Camp, MS just south of Holly Springs. I learned a lot about music and life from David. I was around a lot of other Kimbroughs and Burnsides all the time and was playing with Junior, RL and their kids in various incarnations a few times a week. The song was written in 1996 and appeared first on a record I did that year called “Down at the Juke,” produced by Billy Gibson and featuring Kenny Kimbrough on drums and Eric Deaton on Guitar, whom I knew from working with those guys and admire very much. Eric has that sound down better than any other white boy and all the other white boys know it and that’s why you don’t hear too much about him. I tried recording it again on “Blood on The Road” in 2005 but never felt like we got it right. I wanted one more go at it before moving on since everyone likes it so much, including myself. The music/vamp itself is clearly and heavily influenced by an RL Burnside tune called “Snake Drive”. The lyrics, however, were written about some one in the throws of addiction. Later this tune would become autobiographical - now it’s a warning and a reminder.”

11. “Sonja”

“Shawn wrote this beautiful melody for his mom after whom it was titled. Once again this was something he played at sound checks forever until we finally said, “Man that is so nice we should do it”. I added a little bridge melody and he has insisted on giving me credit for some of the song writing. I don’t feel responsible for any of this piece as his heart and mind were so inspired and into this piece that anything I played on it really just came from osmosis. The tune is especially sacred to him and me as well, and we try and save it for special gigs or ideal sound situations. The song is also especially challenging for me, as it’s very slow, naked in form and the harp/guitar parts mostly play in unison. I play in 12th position to get the most expression out of the major scale, however that makes it a tough one for precise intonation. We were all very concerned about getting this song recorded right, hope we got it...” (Key of E: B harp in 12th position or 1st flat)

12. “Rocket Number 9”

“This Sun Ra ruler had to be covered by some one! I’m not sure if we are the first, but we haven’t heard anyone touch this (save for a short quote in a live bootleg of a Garaj Mahal song) despite some pretty thorough searches. There are hundreds of untouched Ra tunes waiting to be re-discovered and revamped! I love this song and have been waiting for years to get it down on tape! The nose flute is a nod to Roland Kirk and absurdity in general. Buck added the killer “Hell’s Bells” and the whole band did vocals too...plus Weed played bass and did a solo. This tune is probably good enough for Weed to listen to in the morning while eating his grits, meaning it lives up to Buck’s standards of morning, free jazz, peace and well being.“



to write a review

deborah monaco

rocket #9 (jason ricci & new blood
these guys are first class musicians! they stir my soul and make every essence of my body move. keep it coming! luv you guys!

gary a. akerill

what can one say, it's just a great album, sorry cd. it's like walking outside in the fresh air after a spring rain... so refreashing.


Rocket Number 9
When you think it can't get any better....It just keeps on gettin' better and better and better. Is there no limit to the talent and energy of JRNB ? Kudos again from sofla.

Aaron Darland

Listen more than once
If you are like me, you never listen to a CD all the way through on the first try. You just quickly fast forward through to each song to get a feel for the album. DON'T DO THIS!! This beauty in this album is in the subtleties. Just when you think you know what the song is all about one of these amazing musicians goes on a tangent and blows your mind. Awesome album!!!

NICOLE Stephane

jason ricci rocket number9
amazing,wonderful, it's a pleasure to listen jason ricci & new blood.fantastic harp player!!!!

Warren Bee

Jason Ricci & New Blood
State-of-the-art harmonica pyrotechnics with a full measure of heart and soul. Every member of the band is top-notch. I just love these guys. I can only hope that this is just the beginning of a long and pleasant ride on the success train. The dues have been paid. Time for the rewards.


JRNB Rocket #9
The Rocket soars to previously unknown heights. I fear our time of enjoying JRNB in intimate clubs with small crowds in about to end. Our loss and Jason's and the rest of the worlds gain. Please come back to upstate New York before it,s too late.


JR&NB Rocket No.9
All of the band's previous self-produced CD's were great..but this one ROCKS! Finally, a vehicle worthy of Jason, Shawn, Todd & Ron. As Warren says, dues have been long paid...it's time for a ride on the success train. Brad Kava said it best: the momentum is building...the world's gain hopefully won't be our loss, those of us who know and love these guys. Kudos for a brilliant album that touches all bases..and to Michael Peloquin for his great saxophone performance. Love you!

Ted Burke (aka TheoBurke)

Jason Ricci hits the Sweet Spot
Rocket Number 9
Jason Ricci and New Blood
(Eclecto Groove Records)

Anyone with a strong need of hearing some of very fine and blistering blues harmonica work by a player dedicated to extending that small instrument's capacity to surprise a listener, I'd recommend getting the new disc by Jason Ricci and New Blood, Rocket Number 9. Ricci is one of those musicians where you can here the influences of players he's "gone to school" on (sounding to me like a sweet blend of Paul Butterfield, Little Walter, Sugar Blue, Sonny Boy Williamson and Howard Levy , and a smattering of mainstream saxists ala Paul Desmond )who has blended what he's learned into a vigorous, original style. Rocket Number Nine is a glorious and tight blues rock album, with plenty of sharp guitar work, a rhythm section that balances tightness and an an appealing , shambling kind of looseness , all of this highlighting Ricci's serpentine harp improvisations and ragged-but-right vocals.

What becomes obvious is that young Ricci is not stuck for an idea, and it's a wonder to hear his solos rage and soar and then transform into jazzier lines; one would have a hard time to finding another harmonica player with a better grasp of his technique and imagination or who makes as much of an effort to present fresh notions, configurations and twists into his playing.

There's a naturalness to what he brings forth, a sensual joining of his lines that is remindful of Butterfield at his most prime; rather than seeming like an upstart perfunctorily playing his warm-up licks before launching his super chops too soon and too often, Ricci, like Butterfield, has a jazz-players of dynamics. There the rare skill of building and releasing tension that keeps on the edge, motivated by the band's virtuoso rhythms and the lead man's sober unpredictability. New Blood, as I said, is a tight, rocking, funkified band. Everyone, take a bow!

paul nuydens

rocket no.9
great album, not only for jason's harpplaying but the other musicians as well( great guitarplaying there). Variation in superb compositions. greetings from belgium(europe)
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