Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Lightnin Rod & The Thunderbolts: Press

Some people close to singer and guitarist Lightnin’ Rod describe this artist and his music as a perfect mixture of Eric Clapton, Bob Seger and Muddy Waters. True or not, what is certainly evident is Rods music has been influenced by Howlin’ Wolf and Stevie Ray Vaughn, together with seventies British pop music but over all, his style is deeply rooted in black music. Lightnin’ Rod Wilson walks up and down his guitar neck showing an amazing technique and sound that will certainly convince the most reluctant experienced listeners, not only by his fine guitar skills but also by his convincing effective phrasing present along the whole cd. To round it up, The Thunderbolts really know what they are doing and display a cool compact sound, with a very professional amazing technique on a passionate honest performing. In short words, we are facing a totally convincing work, done with great taste and care. GREAT.
Lightnin' Rod & the Thunderbolts
"After The Storm"
Lightning Bolt Records
BY PETER "BLEWZZMAN" LAURO, © December 2008


This CD, as LIGHTNIN' ROD WILSON made a point of telling me, is not about any specific "named storm". It is about all of the various storms that all of us go through from time to time. The way ROD tells it, "What matters the most is the kind of person we are........"AFTER THE STORM".

On "AFTER THE STORM", LIGHTNIN' ROD WILSON, on Lead Vocals, guitars, mandolin, percussion, strings and bass is joined by: BROTHER BILL LEWIS on bass; WALLY WEEBER on drums; ERIC KORTE on tenor sax; DALE BEAGLE on piano and strings; DANIELLE GROSS on backup and lead vocals; AMY ROBERTS on backup vocals; SARAH JONES on alto sax; TIFFANY BAYS, backup vocals; STAN ZIMMER on drums; SMOKIN' JOE ORTIZ on harmonica. Except for "JOHN THE REVELATOR", all tracks were written by LIGHTNIN' ROD WILSON.

The opening track, "CLOSE TO YOU", opens with words that, time and time again, I've found myself saying - "I hope the traffic cop don't have his radar on". It seems, as the title indicates, that ROD is obviously in a rush to get close to his woman. This track features the whole band in a nice tight groove, with great guitar and sax highlights by ROD and ERIC.

"BRING YOU BACK HOME" is just one of the many tracks on this disc which feature intense vocals. DANIELLE & AMY are absolutely superb backing up ROD, who sings his heart out on this one. If like me, you were awed with the powerful way in which RICHARD HARRIS sang "MCARTHUR'S PARK", then you will absolutely love LIGNTNIN' ROD'S vocal style. The rhythm work from BILL & WALLY and the piano playing by DALE also highlight this one.

If you like it funky, "NARCISSISTIC FOOL" will fill that bill. On this one, of course, the rhythm section's on fire and some extra heavy bottom is provided by ERIC as he has that tenor sounding more like a baritone. At THE THUNDERBOLTS live shows, the dancers have to love this one. As a matter of fact, they probably stay right on the floor if the next song played is "CRAWLING BACK HOME". On this smoker, even the wall flowers will have a hard time standing still to the swinging rhythm provided by BILL & ERIC on drums and sax.

There's nothing I like more than hearing a musician say "I GUESS I'LL JUST SING YOU THE BLUES". This one features DANIELLE, on lead vocals, doing just that. However, I promise you that you've never heard them sung like this. Her voice is astoundingly angelic and it's not all that often you hear an angel singing the blues. DALE on piano and strings was equally awesome.

"AFTER THE STORM" closes with a soft instrumental titled 'FLIGHT OF THE FREE SPIRIT". This one is all about ROD and his acoustic guitar. Listening to it was perhaps the most relaxing three minutes I've had in a real long time. I could have sat back, closed my eyes and listened to this for hours.

Other tracks on "AFTER THE STORM" include: "AFTER THE STORM", "WRITING ON THE WALL", "ROSALEE", "CRAWLING BACK HOME", "JOHN THE REVELATOR" and "ALLIGATOR WOMAN".

To check out LIGHTNIN' ROD & THE THUNDERBOLTS, and to purchase a copy of "AFTER THE STORM", just go to www.lightnin-rod.com. Of course, you'll be sure to tell him Pete the Blewzzman sent ya.


Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4music.com
Blues rock bands are sprouting out of the ground like mushrooms at the moment. But when one pops up like Lightnin Rod from Michigan and his seasoned buddies, this team effort manages to stand out among the swamp blues vegetation. This is because Lightnin’ Rod has a real gravelly voice, and has been playing guitar since he was twelve years old. He writes meaningful lyrics and places his soul in the eye of the storm, as it were. Above all, he knows to surround himself with outstanding musicians. The Thunderbolts formed in 2003, after which the line-up changed a number of times. In the current band, all the instrumentalists can list illustrious blues legends with whom they have played: drummer Wally Weeber with Willie Dixon and Robert Cray, to name but two; saxophonist Eric Korte with Chuck Berry and Buddy Guy, amongst others. They help to set the tone of each track; for example, Eric Korte’s sax can be funky, sultry or jazzy by turns. On the intense ‘Rosalee’, his sax allows a more melancholy tone to seep through. Lead singer Lightnin’ Rod sings his songs with full commitment in his voice, giving of himself completely, whether it be on a slow blues track like ‘Bring You Back Home’, which leads out with a lovely piano solo, or on the passionate ‘After The Storm’ that culminates with soulful female backing vocals. The ladies are Danielle and Amy, and their backing vocals lend an authentic atmosphere to the violence of the storm. Their voices also give Tommy Johnson’s ‘John The Revelator’, the only cover on the album, a gospel tinge. Lightnin’ Rod has played with other bands in the past, but this Thunderbolts ensemble seems to be the final configuration, for the moment at least. It was with them that he brought out ‘All American Blues’ in 2004. With this second album ‘After The Storm’, Rod seems to be declaring his intense love for the blues. According to Lightnin’ Rod, everyone, rich or poor, will sooner or later go through the storm of life, that is, everyone will see misery and distress. The most important thing is how you survive the storm, or what you have become once the storm is over. He translates this piece of wisdom into true-to-life music. Bob Seeger, Muddy Waters, and Buddy Guy are some of his influences. But when you listen to his own compositions, you realize that more than anything else, he is delving into his own world of bluesy feelings. Just listen to ‘Writing On The Wall’, a gem of its kind that continues to resound like an indictment and a plea, as though it is only through the music that his spiritual anguish can be released.
"After the Storm" Reviewed by RadioIndy.com!
POSTED BY: EricLawrence

"After the Storm" by Lightnin Rod and The Thunderbolts is true classic blues gem. From front to back the album just screams old school blues with amazing licks, strutting bass lines and beats that swagger. It definitely features a full sound with great female backing vocals and sultry saxophone work thrown into the mix. The album also sounds great, with great care taken in amplifying a great natural guitar tone and shaping a great sound around it. The album comes out of the gates strong with "Close To You," a track that encompasses each and every element of the bands frill-less sound and concept. "Bring you back Home" opens with a wicked guitar intro, gritty vocals and great female back up vocals. The standout track on this album has to be "Narcissistic Fool", which features a slick guitar riff, a fantastic plucky bass line and great sax accents. If you are a fan of artists like JJ Cale, Eric Clapton or BB King this is a must pick up. It stands alone as a truly Professional sounding album with some very well written songs and a very talented band to boot.
-Ross & the RadioIndy.com Reviewer Team
Blues comes in many styles and is found all across Michigan. Lightnin Rod Wilson hails from Morenci, MI and hangs around Toledo, OH. His flavor of blues is via a tight trio of musicians skillfully working mostly original material. This small group gets big results. The Thunderbolts were formed in mid-2003 and this album followed a year later. Wilson commmands the vocals and guitar. Bass guitarist Peter Heydinger and drummer Don Bush complete the band roster.
Native Michigander Wilson picked up his first guitar at age twelve. He joined several rock bands in the 70's and later released three C.D's with his Christian band. Recently he was working as a solo act before forming the Thunderbolts. Wilson wrote twelve of the thirteen songs in this collection. The exception is a cover of Willie Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man."
The songs feature tight arrangements, bluesy vocals and fine guitar leads. I noticed influences ranging from Van Morrison to John Lee Hooker. My personal favorites are the songs "All American Blues", the upbeat "Two Shooed Boogie" and "Dreamful of Blues" in which Wilson pays homage to blues stars of the past and their music.
Big Foot Bob Shultz is a guest performer and contributes his piano and background vocals to a half dozen tunes. Shultz heads his band The Toe Tappers and was with the original Bob Seger band. Chef Chris jumps in on harmonica for several songs. Chef Chris won wide acclaim winning an International Blues Competition in Memphis with his band The Nairobi Trio and his new group The Calumet City Orchestra.
Wilson's liner notes include a brief essay on his view of American Blues and the qualities and shortcomings of life in America and states, "where else would I rather be?" He dedicates the album to the men and women of the U.S. military wherever they may serve. Wilson seems to understand that the important things in life are bigger than daily toils and rewards.
Lightnin Rod & The Thunderbolts have a solid first release and I look forward to hearing more from them. -- Wolfgang Spider
Wolfgang Spider - Detroit Blues Society (Mar 5, 2005)
All American Blues CD Review

Based in the Toledo area, these guys are at their sizzling best with the rock-based stuff. Singer/guitarist Rod Wilson of Morenci, Mich., backed by Peter Heydinger of Sylvania on bass guitar and Don Bush of Toledo on drums, growls his way through some outstanding, low-down, smoky blues too. Twelve of the thirteen songs are originals on the fine album.
Ken Rosenbaum - Toledo Blade (Jan 9, 2005)
All American Blues - a chat with Lightnin Rod Wilson

It was my pleasure to speak with Rod. He's truly one of our interesting and knowledgeable blues artists that reside in NW Ohio. So this isn't just an interview but also an introduction for most of you to this band.

Rolly - Rod, thanks for the chance to chat with you. The first question I want to ask you is, am I wrong to presume that you had the name of this band in your head before the band was ever formed? I know some name that I'd like to use if ever leading a band.

Rod - I came up with the name of the band several months before we actually started playing together.

Rolly - How did the three of you happen to hook up?

Rod - I ran a classified ad in the Blade and both of them answered it. I did jam with some other people who answered the ad, but Peter and Don were the best mix.

Rolly - I know that Peter, your bass player has an interesting "day job". What is that you all do during the daylight hours?

Rod - Peter is an engineer for a company in town. Don works at the airport loading cargo planes, and I work for the State of Michigan with the Corrections Department.

Rolly - After seeing you guys at a regular gig, I would think that the three of you were influenced by playing in bands that played several different types of music, other than blues. Is that right, and if so, what types of bands were those?

Rod - Peter had a rock background, and Don had played with several rock, country, and variety bands. I grew up on classic rock and blues and played contemporary christian music for a number of years.

Rolly - Well I'm excited to get right to asking you about the CD so lets get it done. It's one of those CD's that gets better with each play through. Many of the local bands I like go years without a CD project, some never do, which can be very disappointing and doesn't make sense if you want to take things to the next step. With my small rant being said, was this CD a vision from day one of the band? If not, when did you think about it?

Rod - Yes! The CD was a vision of mine since before day one with the band. In fact I had written most of the songs before we got together the first time.

Rolly - We'll start the dissection with the packaging. On the cover, it's almost like a "crossroads" type of effect you were looking for with you walking down the middle of the road with your guitar. Was that your idea and who made it a reality? Love the black and white with the double yellow lines being the only color.

Rod - Thanks! It was my idea. Kyle Baugh of Gallipo's Photography took the pictures and made it all come to life. He is great at what he does.

Rolly - Where was the cover photo taken?

Rod - The photo was taken in March just north of Wauseon near the Ohio turnpike.

Rolly - I see that you recorded most of this at your studio. What kind of equipment did you do it with?

Rod - We did just a few drum tracks at Action City Records because they have a large room for recording drums that gives it a real live feel. The majority of the project was done in my studio on a Korg 1600. It's a sixteen track digital machine that is really friendly for people like me.

Rolly - Former Bob Seger System keyboardist, Bob Shultz, did both some keyboards and backing vocals in the disc, how did this come about?

Rod - He did keyboards and backups on songs such as "Ramblin Gamblin Man". He has his own band now Big Foot Bob and The Toe Tappers. His guitar player Danny Hare from Adrian, MI is a guy I have known for several years. I just called Bob and he was glad to be a part of the project. He is a real professional in every sense.

Rolly - Tell us about his contributions to the project.

Rod - He played keyboards on three songs and did vocal harmonies on five of them. He also helped me with some vocal arrangements.

Rolly - 2002 International Bluess Challenge winner Chef Chris comes on board to play harmonica on two tracks, where do you know him from?

Rod - I know Chef Chris from his bass player Bill Lewis. Bill played bass on a couple of Christian records I did in the 80's. I have known him for more than 20 years. Through him I met Chef Chris and he also was more than happy to be a part of the project.

Rolly - So you've seen him without the hat?

Rod - Yes I have!!

Rolly - Your daughter, Danielle Gross who appears on five of the tracks doing backing vocals had been doing the same with gospel great Larnelle Harris (5 grammy's, 11 Dove Awards). How did she happen to get a geat gig like that amd might we see her following her own musical dream?

Rod - Actually Danielle has not been with Larnelle for a number of years. She was with a gospel group called the Thurlow Spurr Singers and they did a Christmas concert tour with Larnelle and also she was part of a one hour Christmas TV special that sill airs on Christian TV networks during the Christmas season. She had a wonderful time doing that, now she is a stay at home mom and works with me from time to time. You may see her at a few local shows with us in the future.

Rolly - Was this the first CD project for each of you? If not, what has each person in the band been associated with before?

Rod - I think it was the first for both Peter and Don. I recorded three previous projects of contemporary christian music. One of them was released on an independant label in Nashville.

Rolly - I'd like to go through each tune, but length of the article will not allow it, so we'll just touch on a few. On the opening tune "Bad Memories" not only do I love all the vocals, lead and backing, but I've got to know, what kind of effects did you use on your guitar during the solo? Great tone.

Rod - Thanks for the compliment. That was just my custom shop Gibson Les Paul through an old Peavy Amp with a little bit of studio compression and delay. That is it.

Rolly - For the intro on "All American Blues", it sounds like something that Booker T & The MG's would do, you had to have been a fan.

Rod - Yes! I am a fan of the old Stax sound from Memphis. It has so much soul and feeling.

Rolly - Seeing how the dance floor was filled at your recent gig at Ernie's within the first minute of "Two Shooed Boogie", was this what you had in mind whole composing this number, to make it a song to get people moving?

Rod - Yeah. It's just a straight up fun time dancing tune.

Rolly - The song "Take Care of You" sould like it might have been inspired by one of the do-wop bands of the 50's. Did you do that intentionally?

Rod - This was not the intention. I was just throwing chords together on the guitar one day and I really liked the arrangement.

Rolly - I never tire of tributes to blues influences like your song "Dreamful of Blues", which is a clever tune. You follow it up with a cover (the only cover on the disc) of "Hoocie Coochie Man". Am I right to assume that this too was part of your tribute?

Rod - Absolutely. My bass player Peter suggested that we put one cover song on the C.D. My only concern was whether we could do justice to a song Wille Dixon wrote and Muddy Waters recorded. I think we were able to do that.

Rolly - You say things in "I May Not Be Politacally Correct" that I applaud. I take it your as tired as I am with all the PC crap and had to vent.

Rod - That's exactly why I wrote it. Things have just gotten way too far out of hand.

Rolly - "Moving on Down The Road" with the words and sound seems like a perfect tune for a movie in which tow stars are running down the road in a convertibile. What two stars would you like to see on the big screen cruising to your tune?

Rod - That's a great question. How about Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson!

Rolly - The band's been getting your songs out to several internet radio stations with several of the cuts being played worldwide. Tell us what countries have you head responses from?

Rod - About 85 countries through internet radio. Also we just got picked up by a syndicated blues radio show called "Blues Deluxe" and we will be featured on 93 regular radio stations coast to coast including three stations in Canada. We also just got requests to send CD's to Belguim, Holland, and England for airplay on radio stations.

Rolly - Which tracks are getting the attention?

Rod - "All American Blues" will be the featured song on "Blues Deluxe". Other stations are playing "Bad Memories", "Two Shooed Boogie", and "They Call Me Lightnin".

Rolly - Who's the person doing all the legwork to connect with all these internet stations?

Rod - My son Justin is doing a great deal of the work on the internet. My wife Debbie also helps out a lot.

Rolly - One of my favorite questions is this, if you could see somebody cover on of your songs, which song and whom it would it be?

Rod - Whoo! I really have no idea, maybe Tommy Castro singing "Bad Memories".

Rolly - Last, the question to put you on the spot, What song do you like to listen to that you wouldn't necessarily want your family and friends to know you listen to?

Rod - I can't think of any...but I want to thank the Black Swamp for keeping the Blues alive in Toledo.

Rod a military veteran had this notable dedication in his linear notes. "...Dedicated to our brave men and women of the U.S. military wherever they serve...."
Rolly Hough - SwampWatch (Oct 1, 2004)
Lightnin Rod & The Thunderbolts new CD titled All American Blues is just what the title says, all American blues that can be found being played in roadhouses and biker bars from coast to coast. The band, whose members include Lightnin Rod Wilson-guitar and vocals, Peter Heydinger-bass, Don Bush-drums and keyboards from ex-Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band member, Bob Schultz hit hard with a heavy blues rock style. Bad Memories starts off the CD with a driving blues sound and is followed by the tile cut All American Blues The slow blues sound of Its Over Baby and Take Care Of You are winners as well. Willie Dixons Hoochie Coochie Man gets a mean work out from the band while the track I May Not Be Politically Correct is self-explanatory. Other tracks of note include Why Are You So Cold and Two Shoed Boogie
Lightnin Rod and the Thunderbolts are back with a follow-up to their self-titled EP of a couple of years ago. Their new effort, All American Blues (Lightning Bolt Records), is more of the same high-energy blues with some strong rock elements included. Though they are only a three-piece band (Lightnin Rod Wilson on vocals and guitar, Peter Heydinger on bass and backing vocals, and Don Bush on drums and percussion), their sound is much bigger, though they are supplemented by guest musicians on some tracks, including former Bob Seger band member Bob Shultz on piano for selected tracks and Chef Chris, who contributes harmonica to two tracks, along with backup vocalist Danielle Gross. Most of the songs were written by Wilson (the lone exception being a cover of Hoochie Coochie Man) and several songs were previously heard on their EP (Dreamful of Blues, They Call Me Lightnin, and Why Are You So Cold). All of these retain the fire of the previous versions, particularly Dreamful of Blues. The newer songs are also pretty good as well, including Bad Memories, Its Over Baby, the rocking Two Shoed Boogie, Sugar and Spice, and Movin On Down The Road. Theres also a neat Allman-esque instrumental, Free Spirit. Wilson is a solid guitarist and is equally satisfying on vocals as well. The band is also first-rate. When this CD rocks, it rocks hard. This band is obviously a crowd-pleaser when heard live, and this CD wont disappoint their fans or other fans of strong rock-based blues. For ordering information, contact the band at lightnin_rod3@hotmail.com or at Lightning Bolt Records, 427 Pearl Street, Morenci, MI 49256.

--- Graham Clarke

Buy the CD
Singin' The Blues

Morenci-based blues band snares radio air time

A Morenci-based blues band is included this week in the "Blues Deluxe" syndicated radio show.
Rod Wilson's current band, "Lightnin Rod & The Thunderbolts," are one of 10 groups feautured in this week's one hour program, playing on 93 radio stations across the country and in Canada.
With the closest station located in Battle Creek, the best way to hear the show is to turn to the internet. Blues Deluxe can be heard anytime at www.freeworldradio.com, and Wilson's band will be featured Saturday.
Wilson is in good company for the show, with other selected groups ranging from the Rolling Stones and Kansas to the Grateful Dead and Van Morrison.
The band's new CD, "All American Blues," was released in June to favorable reviews and is getting airplay in Europe and South America in addition to American stations.
Wilson - on guitar and vocals - is joined by bass guitarist Peter Heydinger of Sylvania, OH and drummer Don Bush of Toledo. Wilson also serves as songwriter.
The CD includes guest performances by pianist Bob Schultz, formerly with the Bob Seger System, harmonica player Chef Chris, winner of the International Blues Challange, and backup vocalist Danielle Gross.
Music reviewer Graham Clarke describes the CD as filled with high-energy blues with strong rock elements. "Wilson is a solid guitarist and is equally satisfying on vocals," Clarke writes. "When the CD rocks, it rocks hard."
The CD is available from CDBaby.com and Tower Records on the net and at two Toledo locations: CD Warehouse on Monroe St. and Allied Record Exchange in the Westgate Shopping Center.
Dave Green - State Line Observer (Aug 18, 2004)
Heard It Through The Grapevine
by Rolly Hough

Lightnin Rod & The Thunderbolts have just released a 13 cut CD titled "All American Blues." The debut disc was a self produced venture by the trio of Rod Wilson - lead guitar/lead vocals, Peter Heydinger - bass guitar, and Don Bush - drums. Brought into the recording session were some heavy hitters.

Chef Chris (Chef Chris & The Nairobi Trio) who won the International Blues Challange in 2002 joins the band for two cuts on harp. Bob Shultz - keyboards, (formerly of the Bob Seger System) joined the guys on three cuts on keys and five cuts on back-up vocals. Wilson's daughter, Danielle Gross, sings back-up vocals on many of the tunes. Gross has sang back-up vocals for Gospel great Larnelle Harris (5 Grammy's, 11 Dove Awards)
Rolly Hough - SwampWatch (Jul 20, 2004)