Monday, January 25, 2010

Looking for Warmth 4

The wind really picked up and pushed the rain down to the ground in torrents. It started that night. The trees whipped around the guest house all night. The racket wasn't exactly to the point of waking me up, but it floated in and about all of my dreamy subconsciousness.

Needlesstosay, my pea coat was back on that morning as I climbed into my van.

I started off at a brunch performance at Bud and Alleys before heading over to Central Square Records for a workshop featuring Nicole Witt and Shawn Mullins. The topic was songwriting. It was definitely interesting. I can't say anything was life-changing, but it affirmed a lot of the issues and fears that all writers and songwriters have, and it's always nice to heard, actually hear, that it happens to everybody.

I was standing close to the stage area, staring at a CD that was proclaimed "the best live r&b CD ever!" It was a concert from 1968 featuring Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Booker T, and more. It looked awesome. But I didnt bring any extra cash, so I just started at it for a few or twenty minutes...

We left there in order to get into the venue I was performing at. Evan was performing in the set before me, and I hadn't heard him yet. This venue was Shorty's. And it was standing room only before the first set went on at 3pm, and stayed that way until after my set. They had also cleaned up the sound since the night before.

On my set was Emily Lynch a young and talented singer/songwriter from Nashville and Effron White, a man who had been inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Fame! He had some amazing story songs. The audience was great - super attentive! And it was wonderful to see several of the other performers there as well. I made this set a little more introspective than the previous night's set, including Over the Road, which i dedicated to my dad, since his birthday was only a couple days away.

After my set i made my way to Stinky's Fish Camp. What a name for a place? I agree, there was some trepidation on my part, but it is a very nice place! All the staff were sweet and kind! They had me try Abita Turbo Dog beer, which was actually pretty tastey! And i am not a big beer fan at all. Dont be fooled though, their grits are made with chicken stock.

The set was cool. Carmel sounded great. Adlai Waxman had a jazzy side of Billy Joel thing going on, and Ryan Parker reminded me slightly of Ryan Adams/ Graham Parsons/ and some Tom Petty.

After a breif set of locals, John Oates and Reed Waddle came on. Reed won the NYC Songwriter's Circle contest last year. He has a very Brett Dennon/ John Mayer/Jack Johnson vibe. Good stuff though. John Oates sounded ok, though I think much of his voice was either not up to par, or simply gone. He did do a good version of She's Gone and Maneater.

So ended my last full night in Florida.

The morning woke with a brunch. A champaigne brunch. But the place, called Fire, did make me specially an Eggplant Napolean - all vegan. It was tastey and filling. Otherwise, I would have been relegated to some standard iceberg lettuce i imagine.

After the brunch we went out to see and hear the Indigo Girls, who were playing on a beach on the far end of town. The artists all got in early and got great seating (I was behind Shawn Mullins). The day was fun but really cold. The big upside was that the little cafe across the street had soy and made me a delicious and spot-hitting hot chocolate.

My friends Evan LaFloch and Carmel Mikol, who seem to be distracted.

Mr. Effron White.

The Indigo Girls.

Shawn Mullins singing with the Indigo Girls.

Why am I shivering when there are palm trees?!?!?

Beautiful dunes and inlets were all around the area.

This was the speed limit sign where I was staying. Yep, 17 MPH...
From there I rolled out to my show at Stinky's. It was crowded early. Emily Lynch was again on the set, and Ben Reno rounded it out. By the time we started, it was over-packed. And everyone was ready to be attentive. This set became much more upbeat with Upon Your Dreams, Manifest, Perfect, Ever After, etc. Manifest was the 2nd or 3rd song of 5, and it really struck a chord with a lady in the audience. She was right up front. And you could see the music rolling over her, enveloping her, and picking her up, moving her, etc. She began dancing. Somewhat tamely at first. But that didn't last too long.

Soon she was right up by me, almost hitting the microphone often. She ended up getting so into that she was disrupting much of the rest of the audience, and was eventually thrown out!

On other news, I got the whole crowd singing along to the NaNas in Perfect! What a wonderful harmony it was!

After me was most of Dread Clampitt. They had a full-time washboardist. Oh yes. They were wonderful at that barroom alt country/newgrass sort of stuff. I thoroughly enjoyed their set. Last of the night were 2 big hitter songwriters. the one, Chas Sanford, wrote "Missing You," the John Waite tune, and one of the most played radio songs of all time. He also rocked an acoustic 12-string, even to the point of blistering solos! He was quite impressive!

I sadly couldn't stay for all of their set, as I needed to get on the road to make it back to Ohio for a show. I said my goodbyes, and was soon driving out of Florida and into Alabama.

Where I crossed paths, most unfortunately, with a deer.

It did into survive the meeting. And my van's front grille and lights were trashed. However, the van still ran. So, I ducked taped the lights on and started down the backwoods 2 lane country road hoping the van would at least get me to a city.

It did more than that - it got me 14 hours down the line and home!

I can't say enough about my van! And 5 hour energy! That stuff works!

My Sunday

A day in the life.

Yesterday, my alarm didn't go off. So I woke up 10 minutes before I was needing to leave to drive to Sugarcreek for my performance.


Those mornings are the worst - those mad rush, anxiety-riddled dashes. But I got on the road in decent time, and ended up having just enough time to set up and even get a glass of blackberry wine (which was very tastey)!

Somehow, accidentally, when I changed my strings, a heavier set got put on. Which felt like I was playing the cables on the Golden Gate bridge.

And that was after the first 3 songs.

I had 3 hours to go for that show alone.


But i finished up and drove the haul to Norwalk for a show @ D&D Smith Winery. The show was great and packed with many friendly faces. I even got some dancers going!

Only a 2 1/2 hour show this time, but my fingertips were slightly numb and sore. After packing up, I knew that with a long drive ahead of me, and no lunch or dinner or enough sleep the night before, it was gonna be rough. So i stopped at the gas station and picked up an extra strength 5 hour energy shot.


It really works. I was awake the whole hour and fifteen to get home. And for unloading my stuff in. And I felt good enough to sit in my room and turn on the uber-junky casio keyboard i have had since I was 10 or so.

The ride home had me thinking of the Love Initiative show upcoming. And I had still wanted to write a few more songs for it (too many is better than not enough). And I came up with this silly idea of trying to write something on the keyboard, and then maybe I could perform it on a piano at the show!

Sweet! Right?

After about 5 minutes, I had stumbled onto something I really liked. And found a great verse and chorus.

And then I turned on the EZ cheeze factor of the pre-sets for beats. And this one was actually perfect! Infused with even more excitement, I pounded out the bridge and a few extra ideas. By 3am I had the song done.

I still can't play it that well. But it's getting there.

This morning... my alarm didnt go off again, and I nearly missed a meeting with Maurice Martin (of Winslow), the Zou, JD Eicher, Jeff Gargas (FTF Records)and Danny of Eclyptic.

Nearly. But not. I was a whole 2 minutes late.

And that could just have been my phone.

It has gone a bit awol lately in keeping time. I thought that cell phones were supposed to be on some kind of atomic time, but not my phone.


Anyway, the meeting was great, and the socializing was a blast!

I got home in time to make some eggplant with roasted red pepper pasta sauce and lima beans before our rehearsal started.

And as for rehearsal. Let me just tell you that we've touched up and completely re-worked 2 songs with more to recieve the same fate. I'm very excited about the direction these songs have taken, and I think when we get this right, it's gonna be a fantastic show.

Just saying.

And now Im on the computer (what a surprise).

I just hope my alarm goes off in the morning. Im setting 3 this time.

(Im knocking on wood).

I'll end this on a random note: just watched Bon Iver's performance on Letterman while back doing "Skinny Love" and it still blows my mind.


Manifest video

Todd V put this together after my performance at Indie BOX in Cuyahoga Falls! It's an awesome place, and a great video!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Looking for Warmth 3

The drive from Nashville to Chattanooga is a short and pretty drive. It's a drive of foothills and small mountains. And fireworks stores. Lots of those. It's a drive that during the fall would be spectacular with colours and shades. This time of year, the trees are bare and waiting the shawl of ice and cold to bear heavily upon each branch. The occassional hawk flew over the road in search of lunch.

Much of the trip I had Native american music blaring - still hanging over from the bison sculpture experience. It fit the scenery well. The soaring flutes and chanting taking me off to another time. A place where the spirit was allowed freedom and spirituality was ever-present and ingrained in us all. I almost half expected to see a ghost bison grazing in the distance off the highway, paying no heed to the cars dashing by, oblivious.

This was the first time I got to actually drive around and see much of Chattanooga. It's a wonderful town build in the valley of a few surrounding mountains, and the town itself has its share of pittsburgh-esque hills. They have a gorgeous waterfront, that on warmer days must be fabulous. I'd heard great things about their aquarium as well. And after passing their art museum, I wanted to have time to stop in. They had a Kennedy photos exhibit that looked pretty interesting. I'd have some time in the morning for sight-seeing, so my list was growing quickly.

I found a great little local grocery store akin to Whole Foods, with a wonderful 3 Bean vegan chili and an awesome discount on huge bags of raisins! Their Wifi allowed me some need computer time before performing.

That night I made my way to Lookout Mountain. I had high hopes of seeing Rock City (American Gods) or perhaps even Ruby Falls. The snag came about that there is little cultural to do in the area for under $15. And spending $20 to walk in the cold around Rock City didnt seem like a smart investment. Alas, some other time, some warmer time, I will check it out and get to the top, where one can see 7 states.


That's been amazing me since I saw the sign claiming that fact. There's obviously Tennessee, Georgia, maybe Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina... but what else? No other states are that close. Supposedly Kentucky and Virginia fill in the void. This claim was first made by soliders in the Civil War, but has yet to be verified scientifically. Though, you'd think they'd get on that! Rock City info.

The morning came and a chill remained in the air. So after a few minutes debating my options, I pointed the car south and made my way for Atlanta. I could always spend extra time in that city.

I had enough time to wander around Little Five Points and catch a few minutes of a cool Funk/Soul band at Smiths before making my way to Java Monkey. This cafe is uber cool. It's a caffeehouse with a bar. And some food (including hummus and veggie sandwhiches). And fantastic teas.

Atlanta has a store much like Coventry's Big Fun! It seemed even bigger, but perhaps there was just more space. Junkman's Daughter. Fun place.

The next day I actually got to take off my coat outside for the first time the whole tour! It was upper 60s and sunny. AAAAAAAHHHHHH! Sunshine!

My house concert was in a nice area hosted by friends that I met in Wyoming. It was a fun night, as their guests were encouraged to bring their little kids with them. And they were dancing up a storm! One of the neighbours that came out was born and raised on the other end of Brecksville, where I live. Such a small world, indeed!

I was on my way to Florida by sunrise. It was a 5 1/2 hour trip, though I gained an hour as I moved into Central time (and Alabama).

The drive felt long and the scenery was little to excite. Plus, at least half the trip was on back roads and small little county highways.

But then suddenly the shrubs open up, and you cross over an inlet in the Bay. And it instantly felt like you were close to the ocean - it was in the achetechture and the air. The smell of fish and salt and water drifted in even through the van.

The town of Seaside (established in 1981) is very quaint and beautiful. It is a little piece of paradise. Little cottages on the beach and modest homes all around. The town center has several restaurants, a record shop, all sorts of little shops, and a nice little boardwalk by the ocean.

After checking in and getting my room assignments, which turned out to be in this lovely guest house, I made my way back to the BMI festival kick off party.

The party was held at a place called Bud & Alleys which is right on the ocean. It was obviously packed, but I made my way in. Where I nearly ran over John Oates (he is a short man). After mumbling an apology, I met up with some of the festival organizers. I've gotta say that everyone involved in this festival were amazing! They were kind and warm. I don't think i've ever felt more welcome then they made me feel. Here, I was introduced to Evan LaFloch (aka Smallfish Adventures). He's a fun personality who has been able to travel all around the world. We were immediately recruited to stand guard for the local TV station that was about to be conducting an on-air interview segment with Matthew Sweet. Shortly after, Matthew Sweet and  Suzzanna Hoffs took the intimate stage. Before the night was over, I'd met a few more great folks like Carmel Mikol.  She is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and put the International in this International Songwriter's Festival. She had an mid evening set, and mine was late, so I went to hear her at Shorty's. Shorty's in a fun upstairs venue. It was constantly packed all weekend, and they frequently were having to keep a line running outside.

The influx of people and the semi-frantic expressions of the staff, amde you wonder how much they liked having the extra business and how much was an unbearable pain.

Her set was fun, and then we all moved down the road to the Bluz Bar for my set. Augustine was wrapping up their set when we got there. Nice folks now based in Brooklyn. The Bluz Bar in a word - rocked! It was a nice-sized club - the kind of place where the band could have a good time. They had a big roomy merch table with a smiling happy volunteer to run it. They also had a ton of star-like decorations hanging from the ceiling, and best of all - 2 christmas trees still up! One set up under the Jager light (almost like a kind of demented Angel). All the sets were rounds. Meaning all acts were on stage, and they'd trade off back and forth until the alloted time was up. Usually we'd get 4-5 songs each in. This first night I had the funny Blake Guthrie and the roots-rocky Sonia Leigh (who's on Zac Brown's label).  My songs were very weel-recieved and I thoroughly enjoyed Sonia and Blake, both Atlanta folks.

After our set was a set by 18 South with Sam Bush and Jessi Alexander. Wow. It was a great set, complete with a great bluegrass version of Bob Marley's One Love.

Thus ended the first Floridian night.

Just Found These!

I just found these pics from the Hullabaloo!

My friend Courtney Cable kicked off the evening in a true hullabaloo fashion!

Then David Ullman took the stage. With this awesome Santa/Snowman hat. So festive!

Some of the crowd, the dancers/dancefloor! Whooo!

Cameron! The Hiphopopotomus himself!

Untethering myself. Getting ready to take you higher!

Looking for Warmth 2


The wonderful Lisa and Scott Horkin, hosts of the Garagemahal House Concert Series in Columbus. Taken in the Clintonville Resource Center.

My friend Ron Gedrich who I went to high school with. He was the one who officially started the "Zach Fan Club" back in 1999. It was great to catch up. We talked a lot of about food (surprisingly!) as he is going to be going vegetarian (possibly vegan) for health purposes. I wish him all the best!  

This is the view from the church lot across the street from the Bison statues in Nashville. Not a grea pic, but it gives you some perspective of the scope.

There was something transcendant about this scene. With the houses and telephone poles in the background. As absurd as it is, it feels somewhat plausible. Mighty tatanka!

Here is where you see the Beautification Award. Love it!

The house concert i played in Atlanta had a few candles out. This was in a bed of wine corks, which was a very cool idea.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hello Sunshine! Looking for Wamrth Tour 2010!

Lack of sunshine does many things to us. It inhibits our focus and drive. It promotes depression. And kills sunblock sales.

So, being from Ohio, where the sun is a stranger much of the year, I've decided to go in search of warmth. Warmth from the heart and warmth from the sun.

So far I've found more of the former than the latter.

I left NE Ohio in between blizzards. We'd just been dashed with a good 4-5 inches overnight. Flurries followed me down to Columbus, dancing and taunting.

With Whole World Bakery and Restaurant still not open due to fire damage, I pulled straight up to the venue. The Clintonville Resource Center. The show itself was an extension of the Garagemahal House Concert Series run by the talented glass artists Lisa & Scott Horkin. Things started off on a good foot.

I got an email from a reporter with the Clintonville paper saying he'd seen a tweet of mine and wanted to write about the show. I was flabergasted for a bit that anything good has come from Twitter! Especially my twitter, which i think isn't even seen - i think it's really more of a fragment of my imagination than a social network... but he did see it, and he did write up a little article!

We ended up even gathering up some canned food for the center, which services the community!

The night was nice! Christmas lights around the stage, an intimate audience, and hummus! A friend of mine, and the starter of my fan club back in high school, Ron, came out to the show! Afterwords, we went to find some vegan food for dinner, as he was looking at vegetarian and possibly vegan for the health reasons. The last place we could find closed as we approached. So we went back and made food at his and his girlfriends' place. It was a wonderful meal of veggie burgers, mushrooms, asparagus, some homefries and some great wine. Dancing Bull, i think it was called - a real nice red.

Despite hearing about a book shop in German Village with 30 rooms of books, I decided to head down to Louisville. There was still some talk of snow, and I figured it best to be on the road. Which turned out to be a good decision. There was a massive wreck on 71 which allowed me to go 10 miles in over an hour.

I pulled in to Louisville with enough spare time to walk a little of Bardstown road for excersize before needing to head to 3rd Ave cafe for dinner and set up. Dinner was of course the vegan reuban w/ a side of their spicy vegetable soup. Delicious! John, my friend and Louisville networking machine, came out and joined me for dinner. The show was nice as the crowd came in, and Ricky, the manager, loved it! He bought a CD and immediately put it in the CD player for the restaurant! We left the venue in search of some other live music. We made our way to the Zanzibar somewhere near Germantown. I love that part of town, because all the places are random houses in and amongst other houses! We were jammed in as more and more folks kept arriving. The music was okay and poorly mixed, so we left and went to the Nachtbar. A very cool place, but no music that night. Not that that stopped anyone. It was more crowded than Zanzibar! We stood by the jukebox as they played halfway tastey music until it got too crowded to stay comfortably. Off then to some other bar. Again no music, but much less crowded. We met up with some other friends there.

The morning came with excitement, as I was going to be trying Ramsis Sunday Breakfast Brunch buffet! And you KNOW how excited I was about this! They had: tofu scramble, black bean sausage, vegan potsticklers, potatoes, vegan buscuits, vegan pancakes, vegan french toast w/ plantaines on top, and some vegan chocolate mousse w/ bananas (which was so sweet i could only take a bite or two)!! Much great tastiness indeed!

It was the perfect way to start my 3rd day of the Looking for Warmth tour! I had not found any sunshine yet, but many warm hearts!

Nashville was a straight easy drive. My friend, and Nashville #1 fan, hosted a house concert at her new house. I pulled in on a sunny day and loaded in in time to set up and clean up. She had made a very yummy cherry mango cake for everyone, which i had one or two (or five!) little pieces of. Her dog, Franco, who is a friend of mine of MySpace was slightly terrified of me in person. We bonded slightly right before i left.

Anyway, the show was great! Brandon McGuiness ( opened the show. His voice was cool and had good music! and he's a cool guy! He even came out to my show the next night! As with all house concerts, it was a wonderful conversation, with many new inside jokes like "Have you seen my monkey?" and "You're welcome!."

I spent the next morning wandering around Nashville, working online, and fliering/drumming up fans for the show that night. Cafe Coco had a tasteful Vegan 3 Bean Chili sipped as I worked online.

Word came round that Erik of the Speedbumps ( was in town recording his new record. My friend who hosted the house concert, Angie, was interviewing him for her column with the Nashville Examiner. So I went along meetig up with him at the studio. Erik's been a friend for a long time, and it was a great pleasure to see him so excited about his music! He said he's never felt this excited about anything he's ever done! He played us a few songs, which sounded great and mature and full.

During all this, the venue called and said they had to cancel the show that night! ?!*# WHAT?! There was a random employee paty that somehow slipped through the booking cracks. So i was forced to find another venue. Tough to do in any town, but especially in Nashville where everwhere has stages and music and they all book a decent time in advance. Plus, Rachel Pearl ( was on the bill. After some scrambling, the original venue called back and said they'd been able to get things back on at the venue. A sigh of relief indeed! However, I found out that Rachel had already told her fans not to come out! All this being said, we had a great show, with a very enthusiastic and fun crowd! And the Bongo After Hours Theater is a really cool venue! There will be some video posted sooner than later from this set. Plus, I had to throw in my nod to Jon Nicholson (Somebody tell me love is alright, love is alright here - into Ever After. It was much appreciated!

After the set we made our way to a few venues and ultimately ending up at Batter'd n Fried, a fish place, with delicious veggie rolls! It was a wonderful night with a great conversation and a very personable waiter with a great singer/songwriter joke: "how do you get a singer/songwriter off your porch? You pay for the pizza." It's funny... cuz it's true.

My last few moments in Nashville i was told I needed to see Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog. So i did. Which was funny, actually. This is when Franco the dog finally bonded with me. He'd been hiding in terror behind the couch, and finally about 15 min into the movie, came around and crawled up on the couch too! It was a moment indeed!

From there, I was told of a sightseeing opportunity in East Nashville. Right on the edge of the Ghetto. On Dickerson Pike. I wound off the highway. Waited for the traffic light, and then wound back under the highway now on Dickerson. Thinking "how far will it be... is this the right place ... did I head the right direction..." when suddenly out of the very middle of the road... a great bison appeared! It was the statue. And there were more! At least 2 more adults and one calf. In the middle of the road. In the edge of the ghetto. In Nashville? It was part of the Dickerson RD beautification project. But bison? Bison roamed the entirity of the American continant back in the day, and I, guess this was some sort of migration route for them.

I was also told not to stop for any ladies needing directions or anything, as they are hookers.

And there were 2 outside the family dollar.

Time was on my side as I could stop and take some pictures of the bison. Despite the hilarity of the situation, it was oddly magestic. these bison captured motionless against the backdrop of telephone lines and boarded up houses and businesses. The hazed Nashville skyline against their backs from one direction. It somehow captures the mystic qualities of real bison in the western wilds. And though out of place, they really somehow belonged in a weird unwordly way. They were all around. This was all theirs once. And I could see the grasses blowing in the chilled breeze with the vague hint of mountains in the background. I could hear them snort and dig. I could see them look at me. And smirk.

We were always here. We always will be.

What about all this? What about you?