If you check out Rusty Zinn’s CD “The Chill” released 7 years ago, you’ll see him clad in a zoot suit with his short red hair slicked-back, looking very much the part of a 1950s Chicago bluesman.
But Zinn looks and sounds a lot different today – sporting a long beard and braided hair and dressed in a khaki shirt adorned with Rastafarian patches. Zinn says his desire to change genres from blues to reggae was met with resistance.
"The record labels and the industry people would say ‘no you can’t do this’ and I’m the kind of person when somebody tells me I can’t do something I just go after it."
Zinn’s latest release is a straight-up reggae album with just a touch of blues.
Recording a reggae album is a longtime goal for the musician who grew up in Santa Cruz and saw a lot of touring reggae artists.
"When I would see people like Jimmy Cliff live and performers like that I would just go ‘God, this is just another expression of soul music’. It was just something I wanted to do."
Milne: Well, what do you think the connection between the blues and reggae is?
Zinn: Reggae, in a way I think I would say that it’s kind of like the blues voice of Jamaica. Reggae sometimes can be almost like a form of gospel music to me as well.
Zinn says performing reggae is more than just a passing phase – for him it’s a revelation.
"I’ve been searching to find my voice for 20 years or more and I just feel like I’ve found it."
Rusty Zinn’s new album is called “ReggaeBlue.”