Mike Zito's departure from the all-star Royal Southern Brotherhood last year was neither unexpected nor acrimonious.
"That decision was made before we even started the band," says Zito, 44, a St. Louis native who brings his own band, the Wheel, to town Friday, Jan. 9, at Callahan's Music Hall in Auburn Hills. "I was knee-deep in building my career and making albums, but of course I wanted to play music with Devon Allman and Cyril Neville. So the idea was we'd do the band but continue to do our own career as well.
"But then the band took off and it got to be too much, and I had to make a choice. But it was not a shock by any means; at the beginning of (2014), the group's third full year, I told them, 'Listen, I'm gonna do one more year with the band and then take a bow and move on.' I couldn't turn my back on 10 albums and 15 years of recording to just be a guitar player in a band, y'know?"
Zito says he still feels a sense of brotherhood with his former bandmates. "We did it very professionally. They were understanding and supportive, and we're all really good friends," he notes. Neville, meanwhile, remains a primary songwriting partner who's collaborating with Zito on material for the guitarist's next album.
Zito hopes to have his next album with The Wheel out by summer, in fact. while he's recently released a live album, "Songs From the Road," to tide fans over. The currently lineup of The Wheel is just now getting its first chance to store extensively, while Zito says he has "about 25 songs" ready for recording, and he's hopeful that the RSB's profile will bring more listener's to his shows and to his next album.
"The Brotherhood has helped me achieve a much broader, wider audience which I'm so thankful for," he says. "I plan to take advantage of that opportunity and work harder than I ever have and just make a big grass roots push and do something good."
Mike Zito & The Wheel
8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9.
Callahan's Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills.
Tickets are $22.50 and $15.
Call 248-858-9508 or visit www.atcallahans.com.
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