Guitarist, Brian Lupo, was born on the northwest side of Chicago on November 18, 1976. A graduate of Notre Dame High School, Lupo (who had always been a fan of rock and roll – especially, The Allman Brothers Band) was a late bloomer when it came to playing blues guitar. In fact, he did not pick up the instrument until 1996 (at the age of 20). Still, once he picked up that first Fender Stratocaster, he would rarely be seen without it again. He spent the next 5 years wood-shedding intensely and honing his unique sound. He immersed himself in the classic recordings of artists such as Muddy Waters and B.B. King. When he finally did come up for air, he found himself a much sought after sideman for some of the most popular singers on Chicago’s hard-scrabble west side.
In 2002, he accepted a regular weekly gig with the indomitable Willie D. & The All Stars – performing every Friday and Sunday night at The 290 Sport & Juice Bar. It was during this period that Lupo cut his teeth in a live setting and learned how to play within the context of an ensemble. Over the course of the next 3 years, he played behind Willie D. and a parade of the west side’s finest blues and soul vocalists. One of those vocalists, Nora Jean Wallace, hired Lupo to play behind her on various festival dates across both the U.S. And Canada. His guitar playing which is heavily influenced by Albert Collins, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and Albert King can be heard on Nora Jean’s first two recordings.
In 2006, Lupo, became disillusioned with the Chicago music scene, and pulled up roots to re-locate in Las Vegas, NV. It was there, in the desert, that he would almost inconceivably reinvent himself (and support his young family) as a professional poker player! Finally, in 2014, family obligations brought Lupo back to his Chicago roots and the blues music he so deeply loved. Brian Lupo and his band currently perform in and around Chicago at top blues clubs including Rosa’s Lounge and the Harlem Ave Lounge.
Veteran Bluesman Brian Lupo Gaining Ground on Chicago Blues Scene in 2016
CHICAGO, Illinois (June 17, 2016) — Veteran blues guitarist and vocalist Brian Lupo is back in town and loving it, on the talent-laden Chicago blues scene this year, re-immersing himself into the music after an eight year absence.
Lupo, 39, a Chicago native, moved to Las Vegas in 2006 to pursue his dream of being a professional poker player. Eight years and three children later, he and his wife decided to move back home to raise those children and be closer to family and friends.
Joining Lupo on stage at historic Chicago blues venues like Rosa’s Lounge (every Wednesday night) and Ken Zimmerman’s Harlem Avenue Lounge is bassist/vocalist Michael ‘Sleepy’ Riley; drummer Greg Haar; and gifted keyboard player Aryio Ariyoshi. Together, these four good friends entertain fans with an electrifying mix of modern, contemporary blues. Lupo’s nightly songlist contains a fine mix of timeless blues classics and a few modern, up-tempo songs.
“My main goal while playing live is to try and connect with as many people as possible on some sort of positive level,” Lupo said.
Lupo does not come from a musical family. When he was 20 years old, a friend in college was playing the guitar and it caught his interest. He bought his own red Fender Stratocaster in 1998, and after his friend showed him a few basic skills, he was hooked. From that point on, he knew what he wanted to do in life.
For nearly eight hours a day, Lupo practiced and worked hard to hone his skills. His first paying gig came in the summer of 2001 playing with bass player Nate Turner. Chicago blues icon Joe Moss had given Lupo’s name to Turner, and once they connected, his musical career was off and running.
Lupo picked up a steady gig at the 290 Sports Bar in Chicago, where he would eventually meet the mega-talented Nora Jean Bruso. Lupo was hired on with her band, and got to tour across the country and outside the states. The experience was priceless; he also appeared on Bruso’s first two recordings (“Sings the Blues,” on the Red Hurricane Label in 2003, and “Going Back to Mississippi,” on the Severn Records label in 2004).
“There were a lot of legendary Chicago blues artists in the studio during those recordings,” Lupo added. “My experience touring with Nora and playing major festivals with her band helped people find out who I was. I realize I was very fortunate to be a part of all that.”