They Call Me JR.
Junior Blues Lead vocals and guitar Blending the fiery soulfulness of Luther Allison with the down-home grit of Elmore James and Ry Cooder, Keith Zofkie is ready to take the blues scene by force. With his new self-titled CD, this bluesman has one goal: to share his uncompromised vision of the blues and how it should be played. Keith 'Junior Blues' Zofkie, 27, began playing guitar when he was just 12 years old. A self-taught player, he discovered the blues early thanks to his older brother, who also played guitar. After a trip to Chicago's old Maxwell Street, he was armed with an arsenal of music that continues to influence him to this day - Elmore James, Lighting Hopkins, John Lee Hooker. In the late 1990s, he began showing his face ----- and his Stratocaster (and later, his black Telecaster) -- at Joliet-area blues jams. That's where he met local blues legends like Twist Ferguson, T-Bird Huck, Al Spears, Mike Cincanelli and Marty 'Big Dog' Mercer. It was Twist Ferguson and Al Spears who bestowed upon him the moniker 'Junior Blues.' 'They've really helped me out getting to where I want to be,' he said. 'They pointed me in the right direction. Playing with Tim O'Brien's Little Brothers Band, and T-Bird Huck and the Blues Busters, M-6 with Twist, and Big Dog Mercer's band -- playing with those guys season you.' That experience shines forth in his guitar playing. One thing that has always separated Junior Blues from the faceless other ax-slingers in the crowd is his deep-seeded love of the blues, and his genuine, unflinching approach to the music. 'My first priority is not to make everybody happy,' he said honestly. 'I have to stay true to myself. For me to sing and play Ozzy or matchbox twenty - it's not honest. I can do it, but I don't feel anything, it doesn't mean anything. I won't bring that to anybody. 'As soon as I heard that first blues riff, I was like that's it, that where it's at.'