For over four decades, John "Ratso" Gerardi has been an enduring presence and lively fixture on the Fairfield County music scene as a performer, singer/songwriter, record producer, and teacher.
A virtuoso guitarist, most recently, Ratso was musical director and bandleader backing Bobby Brook Hamilton, Jackie Wilson’s son, at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, “The Nightclub of New York.”
He has also performed
in the Big Apple at The Bitter End, CBGB, LeBar Bat, Lone Star Cafe, Manny's Car Wash, The China Club, The Ritz, and Downtime, opening for Al Kooper, Eric Johnson, Jimmy Vivino, and Duke
Robillard. In Connecticut, he has appeared on double bills with rock legend Rick Derringer at Milford’s Daniel Street and with The Dennis Dunaway Project at Fairfield’s Stage One.
Ratso has opened for David Johansen (Buster Poindexter), Zebra, The Fixx, Joe Bonamassa at Stamford's "Live at Five," and Roberta Flack at the Norwalk Oyster Festival. He has played with
The Blues Brothers' Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Blue Oyster Cult's Joe Bouchard, The David Bowie Band's Mick Ronson, and The Outlaws' Freddy Salem. Last summer, he opened for Slo Leak, the
Danny Kortchmar/Charley Karp band.
Ratso made his professional debut at 11 years of age. At 14, he opened for the super group Rhinoceros and Junior Wells and the All-Stars. Self-taught his first 15 years, at 22 he began formal study with Jazz great Sal Salvador, his mentor for 25 years, then in the mid-1970s became a teacher himself. In 1996, he built Lenox Sound Recording Studio and launched it by producing the "Learn from a Master" series of month guitar clinics, featuring such industry legends as Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Robben Ford, Steve Khan, Scott Henderson, John Patitucci, and Harvey Brooks.
He has released four albums, which he also co-produced on his independent Riff Rat Records recording label, three of original music: Water Rising, Silent Witness, Whatever It Takes, and, most recently, Rattled, his first live record.
He is also the author of 1996 instructional book, The Blues Bible (Karamar Publishing), a primer on the art of playing blues guitar.
He has appeared at the WWF's "RAW Live" at the New Haven Coliseum, the Riverhead (N.Y.) Blues Festival, the renowned Hamiltonian Horse Race at the Meadowlands (N.J.), and the Bruce Museum in Greenwich — at the 1999 opening of the photography exhibit for the book, Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era.
Dubbed by a local reporter as "a workingman's musical institution," Ratso remains true to the moniker, currently juggling teaching with recording two albums with two different bands as well as producing other artists, and, of course, the Sunday church gig.