JT Ross

JT Ross

BandBluesJam

JT Ross is the undisputed Harmonica Boss. JT's fresh and unique harmonica & vocal sound has listeners wondering how he gets the harmonica tones he does. His live performances pay tribute to the greats and are dazzling displays of chromatic harmonica wizardry which leave audiences stunned.

Biography

"A Bright Light From The Third Generation of Electric Harp Players"
by Southern California Blues Society President - Cadillac Zack

Since the Big Bang explosion of amplified blues harmonica in1950's Chicago, the instrument and its stylings have migrated in many directions. But arguably no region has fallen more in love with that sound than the West Coast.

Due heavily to the influence of Windy City titans, George "Harmonica" Smith and Shaky Jake Harris, settling in L.A. in the 1960s, a small legion of inspired fans would eventually go on to become the next generation of modern day harp heroes. That triumvirate included Rod Piazza, William Clarke and Kim Wilson (from Goleta, CA). As the young guns of their day, their successes (apart from Clarke who passed in 1996) are still happening.

However, it's easy to lament over the empty chasm that currently exists with the new generation of young harp men. One may ask, "Where is the 'third-generation' of electric harp greats?"

Enter JT Ross.

Dubbed "The Harmonica Boss", he might just be the answer. A truly strong player, rooted in tradition, whose chromatic work has a depth and excitement seldom-heard on the current scene, Ross's back story is as unusual as it is amusing.

Born in Chicago, he was fortunate to have a dad who could provide him a gateway into the black, ghetto taverns where the great blues luminaries still held court in the 1970s. His German-born, Jewish artist father went on to illustrate album covers for Sonny Boy Williamson, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart and even created the now famous logo for Alligator Records. In gratitude for the pro bono logo Alligator president Bruce Iglauer kept JT's
family on his list of promo recipients for every single future blues LP that would be released over the next thirty-plus years. JT sites this as his most unswerving inspiration; "Every month, throughout my entire life, I'd receive a package containing the latest searing modern blues records out of Chicago. That was a serious musical education!"

Through his father's deep involvement in the blues community, the toddler was literally bounced on the knees of legendary bluesmen such as James Cotton, Hound Dog Taylor and Howlin' Wolf while they instructed Ross on how to toot his new toy -- a "C" harmonica.

In those days, divorce was commonplace. It wasn't long before Ross's parents split up. This meant he'd often be left home alone, while his impoverished mother pursued her acting career. These periods of solitude enabled JT's love for the harmonica and singing to flourish.

It wasn't long before his domineering Irish Catholic grandmother stepped in to the picture and assumed the role of guardian. Under her Dickensian supervision, he was subjected to the wrath of "seven mean-ass uncles; including a pool shark, a junkie pimp, a tough golden gloves boxer, a bookie, a knife grinder, and two military men as well as two hard-as-nails aunts who used to baby-sit me and my brother while they tended bar as we played pool and pinball. No joke!"

"Our only relief from Chicago's steamy summers came when my grandma would take us to her dilapidated cabin in rural Michigan to live off the fat o' the land by making us; chop and stack wood for winter, hunt deer & small game, fish and pick fruit to make moonshine and preserves… all while I was corrupted by my younger uncles and their throng of ruffians." Ross adds, "Somehow I wound up with a promiscuous seventeen year-old girlfriend when I was eleven!"

In early 1980 luck changed. Ross's mother landed a TV pilot in Hollywood. So they packed up a U-haul truck and headed west. Upon settling in LA, Ross was overwhelmed by the surreal sunny contrast to Chicago. "In junior high, punk music was big. Blues wasn't." So he took up the drums and played in a garage band. However, when home alone he kept his dream alive; singing and playing the blues on his two-dollar tin sandwich.

After six more years of additional struggle there was suddenly tremendous success in television for his stepfather. But, along with this new family prosperity came a strange dichotomy; Ross's new peripheral immersion in show business set his standards incredibly high, yet he never quite identified with much of it, since he moved away in his teens, just as the family was gaining financial stability. As a result JT didn't get to live the opulent life of Riley he saw so many of his friends enjoying. His girlfriend at the time (Wendy Wilson – daughter of Beach Boy Brian Wilson) had the number 1 song with the bullet on the Billboard pop charts with MTV darlings Wilson Phillips. JT got to play harp on the record working with luminary producer Glen Ballard and earning his local 47 Musician's Union card.

During the blues boom in the early 1990's, Ross found inspiration to pursue blues music as a legitimate career, and there's been no looking back ever since. Performing countless shows around Southern California and then in late 2003 Southsi

Discography

Mr. Ross' first solo CD "Loaded" debuted on the top of the Living Blues Radio Charts. JT has played on many Blues, Country, Rock, Funk, Pop, Soul, R&B & Jazz Recordings.

Set List

* Mostly Original - Blues, Jump, Swing, R&B, Funk and Rock & Roll.

Set List Varies Depending Upon Duration Of Performance.