Jason Ricci

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Jason Ricci at the Borderline (Belgium), 2009

Jason Ricci (February 3, 1974)[1] is an American harmonica player and singer.


Raised in Portland, Maine, Jason Ricci is the son of the controversial businessman/politician/activist Joe Ricci, founder of Elan School. Ricci started playing music in punk bands at the age of 14.[2] After discovering a love of the harmonica and Blues music, he turned his attention in that direction. In 1995, Ricci moved from Portland to Memphis, TN, where shortly thereafter he placed first in the Sonny Boy Blues Society contest at 21 years of age.[3] Later that same year Ricci recorded his first album, Jason Ricci.

In Memphis, Ricci began playing with David Malone Kimbrough, son of blues great Junior Kimbrough, and soon was a part of the bands of both Kimbroughs and was sitting in with R. L. Burnside.[4] This also marked a dark period for Ricci, as drug addiction led to a one-year stint in jail.[4]

In 1999, Ricci won the Mars National Harmonica Contest, and began playing with Keith Brown, later recording with him as well. In 2000, he received a two-page write up in Blues Access magazine by Adam Gussow (harmonica player for Satan and Adam) saying:

"I am convinced he along with New Jersey's Dennis Gruenling is one of the best harmonica players of his generation."

After 15 months with Big Al and the Heavyweights, and a brief period of living in Raleigh, NC, Ricci started his own band, Jason Ricci & New Blood, in 2002. This band features Shawn Starski, who, in June 2008, was named by Guitar Player Magazine as one of the "Top Ten Hottest New Guitarists." In 2005, Ricci was honored with the Muddy Waters Most Promising New Blues Artist award.

In 2007[5] Ricci and New Blood were signed to Eclecto Groove, a new subdivision of Delta Groove Productions. His first album with the label, titled Rocket Number Nine, was released October 23, 2007. Later in 2009 the band recorded "Done With The Devil" for the same Label. The band as a whole has been nominated for Blues Band of the Year three times by Blues Wax magazine. Ricci won the Blues Critic Award for Harmonica Player of the Year (2008) and was nominated for a Blues Music Award for Harmonica Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010.[6]

By January 2011, Ricci had relocated to New Orleans, and assembled a new band, Approved By Snakes, with guitarist John Lisi.[7]

Ricci received "Best Harmonica Player" at the May 6, 2010 Blues Music Awards.[8]


Ricci is one of the only openly gay male performers touring on the blues circuit today.[9] This has been a professional obstacle as well as an opportunity for Ricci to challenge both gay stereotypes and traditional Blues expectations:

"The [gay] community doesn't like drum sets and guitars and actual live music. They're used to lip-synching, and dudes in dresses, and Madonna, and Cher, and techno beats. Those are the things that kept me from coming out earlier. I felt like I had nothing in common with the gay community, and I still don't feel like I have a lot in common with the community. I'm hoping that changes, but the majority of their icons are press-friendly little Mickey Mouse-doll figureheads that you're more likely to see on a show redecorating somebody's house than onstage at a blues festival...When I came out of the closet as a gay white male from an upper-middle-class suburban home, I came out as not just gay, but as a white guy, and as a guy who likes punk, and as a guy who didn't come from total poverty, and all those things that we associate with being 'blues' things. And when I did that, I wanted to sing about that. I wanted to write songs about what my life was like, and I wanted to use terminology that was modern."[10]

Though Ricci does not generally wear his sexuality on his sleeve on stage, his openness with being gay has occasionally been a difficult issue in the traditionally conservative Blues world, as he's been "disinvited" from a number of venues and events.[11]

"Done With The Devil" signaled a new direction in Ricci's musical inspiration, as his study of the occult strongly influenced the writing on the album.[12] Ricci has become a student of Thelema and the writings of Aleister Crowley, and Ricci has gone so far as to call him "a great holy man."[13] This has prompted more controversy for an already controversial artist, prompting an extended online mea culpa from Ricci himself, in which he fervently denied accusations of Satanic worship.[14]


  • 1995: Jason Ricci (self titled debut) North Magnolia Music
  • 1997: Down At The Juke North Magnolia Music
  • 2001: Feel Good Funk Self Produced
  • 2004: Live At Checkers Tavern Blue Sunday Records
  • 2005: Her Satanic Majesty Requests Harmonica Music (compilation), Self Produced
  • 2006: Blood on the Road Rah Fox Records
  • 2007: Rocket Number 9 EclectoGroove Records
  • 2009: Done with the Devil EclectoGroove Records[10]
  • 2010: Down That Road..., compilation of live tracks

Note: This discography does not include appearances by Jason Ricci or other members of New Blood on other artist’s albums, or various compilations.


  1. ^ Nagy, Levy . “Jason Ricci” . Levynagy Weblog . June 7, 2009
  2. ^ Bledsoe, Wayne “Out Gay Bluesman is opening Ears and Minds” . Scripps News, November 28, 2007
  3. ^ Michelle Kiser. "Jason Ricci: Intrepid Artists International, Inc". Intrepidartists.com. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  4. ^ a b Bledsoe, Wayne . “Out Gay Bluesman is opening Ears and Minds” . Scripps News, November 28, 2007
  5. ^ Michelle Kiser. "Jason Ricci : Intrepid Artists International, Inc". Intrepidartists.com. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  6. ^ "Past Blues Music Awards". Blues.org. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  7. ^ "Jason Ricci, Country Fried and more music in New Orleans for January 8". NOLA.com. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  8. ^ "The Blues Music Awards 2010 - And The Winner Is...". Theguitarbuzz.com. 2010-05-07. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  9. ^ Beckers, Ludo, "Interview: Jason Ricci", Back to the Roots, retrieved 2007-10-24 
  10. ^ a b Long, Autumn . “Jason Ricci Gets His Rocks Off” . Blues Revue Magazine . February/March 2008
  11. ^ Wenzel, John, “Music Q&A: Jason Ricci” . Get Real Denver . December 20, 2007
  12. ^ Arnold, J.W.. “Jason Ricci Bringing His Blues Harmonica Magic to K.C.". Camp KC April 30, 2009
  13. ^ "Favorite Crowley Quotes van Jason op Myspace". Blogs.myspace.com. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  14. ^ "Jason Ricci Writings: Occult or "Satanic" Symbols on our site, videos and lyrics". Jrnb.blogspot.com. 2009-05-26. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 

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