I was lucky enough to catch Jose Ramirez at Earl's Hideaway in Sebastian, FL for the last gig of his 2022 US Summer tour. The band includes: Jose Ramirez, vocals/guitar; Michael Hepner, aka, Detroit Mike; Keith Russell, bass; and JL Junior, drums.
Jose was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica, His passion for the blues was formed through his exposure to music via his family's business. “When I was a kid,” he says, “the family business was a bar. They opened it in 1990, two years after I was born, and their specialty was American oldies music. I remember going to help them out at age five or six, and all they’d play all night long was Ray Charles, good old Stax records and Motown. I used to listen to it all the time. When I grew older and showed an interest in picking up a guitar and learning to play, my dad said: ‘You know what? If you’re really serious about playing that instrument, the type of music you should study and listen to — before you even pick it up – is blues.”
Influenced by BB King and Robert Cray, Jose moved to the US and has been playing blues since. The DC Blues Society saw talent when Jose came into town and sent him to the 2020 IBCs where he placed second to Canada's JW Jones. Jose signed with Delmark records to release his CD "Major League Blues" in March 2022. The first four tracks were recorded in August 2021 with Chicago greats, Jimmy Johnson and Rob Stroger. This would be Jimmy's last recording. Tracks five through ten were previously recorded in September 2020 with Jose's band.
Here are a few video clips of the performance at Earl's Hideaway: In the first video, Jose dedicates the song to his mother, as it was Mother's Day the following day in Costa Rica. He sings The Casino Song by Johnnie Taylor:
Here, they perform The Forbidden Funk.