Wednesday, March 27, 2013


It's been a while since I've been to the City. Over a year, maybe a year and a half.

The ride through the Pennsylvania mountains dotted with snow and full of memories. Memories of long ago when these mountains stood proud and tall. Long before man learned to cut them down. Long before wind bent them and man replaced their silent truth with rail lines, churches, front porches. 

One particular climb draws the highway up over a proud ridge. The slices carved in the mountain designed to keep it off the road, are instead worn more like a tattoo than whip scars. There the exposed rock rises up and up. The forest wrapping around in fullness. There, a dimension emerges beyond foothills. 

I am Mountain, sings from every tree, every rock, every cloud. Defiant. Untouchable.

And then gone.

Once you cross the Delaware River, you realize these are no longer mountains. These are suburbs. The forested vistas, the Eagle trees, the space between, give way to litter. And traffic. And hills of houses. 

Jersey City emerges from around a bend. The smell of a city overwhelms the pines, the oaks, then maples, the peppermint. The trees that grow here tell of exhaust and impatient drivers. Of factories and stuff. Living replaced by survival.

Yet, the magnanimity of the City is impressive. It is a city of infinite dreams. 

New York.

My first show was in Jersey City. I had never been there before, other than driving to one of the tunnels to the City. Everything close to the City seems to feel like the City. Close, narrow streets and erratic driving. People everywhere. All the time.

The house concert was in a lovely early 1900's house. A gorgeous feat of architecture standard for the time, but brilliant now as we look around at cookie cutter houses with no style or personality, much less functionality. The banister was carved wood than wrapped and wound up, curved and perfect. The main rooms flaunted high ceilings great for entertaining, and the acoustics were most enjoyable. 

These shows were with my good friends Randi Driscoll ( and Noah Heldman, two of the kindest, most fun folks I have met in the music world. The evening turned into more of a comedy routine than just a concert, as we all reminisced about shows gone wrong. Evenings where at some point you can hear yourself say, wow, this is gonna be an hilarious story, someday. 

House concerts are my favorite shows. To meet interesting folks in a setting where you can actually chat and have meaningful conversations is some a marvelous thing. Some interesting and cool folks made up the audience. One of them read palms and did numerology. I was told I have an "Ancient" soul. And that I would live forever. 

So that's something I don't have to worry about. 

I am also a 10, on the numerology scale, which is apparently important. I am reminded I should spend a few moments when I can to research more into this. I am intrigued. 

During one of the conversations, I was informed of a great morning yoga happening a few blocks away. So I made plans to attend in the morning.

The yoga class was in an art gallery called the Distillery. On the way I passed my favorite sign of the whole trip. It said simply:

No loitering. Or hanging out.

Gotta love the City.

Yoga. It was a medium-sized square room with paintings on all the walls. Many of the pieces were painted portraits of some sort, and there were a couple mixed-media pieces, including one where the coat and hair of the man in the painting was bottle caps.

The class was good and challenging. We did compass, which I have never before done. It involves a leg over your shoulder, and I was more like broken compass, but was excited to learn a new pose. 

Then it was time to enter the City.

After rounding the blocks nearest the club for 20 minutes, I found a spot to park and set about on foot. I love walking cities. Actually, I love walking. Period.

A vegan bakery called Blossom was a handful of blocks away, and already having had lunch, I felt a cookie would be perfect. The bakery was small, but had a huge list of offerings. It was a little hard to decide. Some of the things I would have loved to try were a little expensive for me, like a $6 piece of pumpkin pie. I went with the Oatmeal harvest cookie. It hit the spot, and I made my way a few blocks over to the highline. 

The highline is a converted raised rail system. It is now a park and walking area. You walk two and a half stories or so about the ground along the old rail, and there are dozens of large public art, small sculptures, performance art, and in general people. Though it was crammed with folks, I enjoyed the views of the City and the early-stage blooming cherry trees. I had read about this park a few years ago, and had been hoping to make it here.   

The show was in a cool little club. One of my favorite things about playing NYC, is their small clubs. In the midwest, we have so few small venues. You either have places that hold 30 people or 500 people. Nothing in between, and NYC seems to have many such places. The sounds was amazing, as the room was built for good sound. We had a great show and raised some money for the AIDS Lifescycle group. 

And I was out of the City far too quickly. 

I look forward to returning in July.       


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


In 2002 I had to write a mission statement for my business, Buffalo ZEF Records. It was becoming an official company, and was basically there for me to release my music. Up to that point, my career had been playing coffeehouses, bars, pubs, and the occasional festival. My goals were aligned with the typical goals of many young musicians: get a record deal, get "discovered", and be able to make music forever.

So it was surprising to both my father and I that I wrote that I wanted the mission statement to be about using music to change the world. To make a better place.

And everyday since then, that mission has only grown and blossomed.

The music industry has vastly changed since 2002, and those dreams of"riches" and being "discovered" morphed into something different. They were no longer necessary to determine whether or not I was successful. Success is a measure I create my own definition to. What does it mean to me to be a successful musician?

Two things.

1). Using the music to inspire and uplift others. To, in effect, create a better world. As a troubadour, I believe our purpose is to spread the message of Love and Unity. Music is our medium. Success involves using your gifts and talents to better change the world.

2). Being able to survive on making music. Money is not very important to me. I don't need many things in my life. I'd rather have experiences and friends and conversations. That said, making money enough to eat, have a roof and a vehicle is important. If music is our passion, than I feel we owe it to that gift, maybe even to God to pursue it fully. Perhaps we can't make a living, but success for me is also involving doing what you love.

Everyday I am excited to wake and work on bringing these goals to life. Trying to find ways to inspire. Praying for words and melodies that can uplift. Always searching for places to spread my message.

And realizing that success isn't even important, really. Living a life focused on helping, inspiring, and uplifting other is reward enough. Everything else is unexpected, or a bonus.

I would rather see someones life be brightened, someones suffering mitigated, someone smile than focus on "success."


Monday, March 4, 2013

Love Initiative March News and Shows

Howdy Beloved Community!

Spring arrives this month, officially! The changing of the season from winter to spring is perhaps my favorite time of year. All the bare trees begin to dance and shine. Green begins to decorate each neighborhood in splendor and celebration.

February has been a quick moving month. Many wonderful shows, and lots of great new friends! I was instructed into Transcendental Meditation (incidentally, on the anniversary of very same day John Lennon began his instruction with the Maharishi – The effects of this have begun instantly, and have really helped bring about more peace into my perspective.  My good friend Samuel Salsbury sat in on my recent set at the Mustard Seed, and brought us all to a higher plane of living. Here’s a small clip from that night:  Otherwise, this has been a month of planning, and filling up every minute of my calendar for much of the year.

ADD Summary:
1. This Week
2. News / Recording Updates
3. House Concerts
4. Summer Tour     

1. This Week.
Friday March 1st – Join me at Ohio Brewing Company at 451 S. High st in Akron at 7pm. Interesting space, and was a total blast last time I played there. Not much food, but they have many of their brews on tap.

Sat March 2 – Arti Gras Art Walk. I’ll be singing at the Zeber Martell Gallery at 43 Furnace St in Akron starting at 6:30pm. This is a fun event all over Akron, and the Zeber Martell studio has so many lovely items! Plus, upstairs Ms Julie’s Kitchen will have desserts!

The 8th – 11th I will be doing a mini tour through Dayton, Cincinnati, and Louisville, KY. It’s been too long since I last sang for y’all, so I am greatly excited!

2.  News / Recordings
I have been performing music for a number of yoga classes, events, and festivals all over the country. There is something special in the mix of my music and energy and the energy of the class/ yoga practice. If you have a yoga studio, and this sounds up your alley, please contact me!

This month, I was asked to be a part of the Vegan Mentor program taking form in Northeast Ohio. I am honored to be able to share my experiences, advice, and support with folks making compassionate lifestyle shifts in the area. If you or anyone you know would like some help transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, or are already there and need some support and advice, please email me. I am most happy to be here to help out!

We will be putting on An Evening for Chuck again this year. After a short break, we’ve decided to join it with Akron Peace Week. Mark your calendars for Oct 5th. We’ll have more details soon, but it’s going to be a most wonderful and celebratory evening, with all proceeds going to Stewart’s Caring Place in Akron.

Good friends of mine have started a marvelous new paper called, The Healthy and Humane Observer, whose mission is "Contributing to the betterment of the planet, and all those who share it." The Healthy and Humane Observer is an informative, educational publication for peace advocates, health advocates, environmentalists, vegans, vegetarians and those who believe in the rights of animals. It will also be a communication forum for rescue, shelter, and placement groups. Additionally, The Healthy and Humane Observer will be a venue that will allow like-minded individuals to connect in many, diverse ways. The aware, compassionate, and conscientious population in North East Ohio is expanding rapidly, and is setting precedents and examples we hope to uphold thus aiding in the betterment of the planet and all who share it. This is a free paper and has ad space as well. They will be featuring a few articles from me in their upcoming issues. Pick one up at a variety of locations.

Recordings. I am in the midst of several projects. The Bright Lights and I are still working on our follow up to Luminosity. Things are going well, and there are some good songs on here, many of which we’ve not yet played live. Another record being worked out is a duets project with many of my friends in and out of the area. We are writing songs together and will be recording them, aiming for an April/May release. The songs have been coming along superbly, and a few are becoming among the best I’ve yet written.

The vast majority of my CDs are out of print, however, that might be changing soon. I will not be printing them up, but I will be having them digitally available at all shows in the near future. You can bring a flash drive, or purchase one along with the music. This is an exciting development. Many folks have asked for older material, and soon I can deliver it!

3.  House Concerts. I really love performing in folks’ living rooms for their friends. This is still the very best way to experience a Zach show. I even offer to help make a vegan dish with the hosts, if they’d like. Each show is really unique, and a memorable experience! It’s really easy to host a house concert, and I’d love to talk with you about it. Here’s a link with more info:

4.  Summer Tour.  “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” _ John Muir. And so it is with me. This season, I will be touring to St Louis, Phoenix, San Diego, LA, all over Southern California, Sacramento, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Park City Ut, Wyoming, Chicago, and possibly Portland, and Montana. The dates are lining up quickly. I’d love to perform a house concert for you during this tour. If you are anywhere near these areas, or en route to any of these areas, please email me.

A lot going on here, and that was a little glimpse. I’m also working with the Akron Area Interfaith Council ( on events, and bringing faith’s together for Peace; a group working on bringing Mindfulness to Akron area schools, the Akron Time Bank (, and Akron Peace Week!   All while writing songs, booking shows and tours, meditating twice a day, manifesting a few new ideas, reading several books, updating Facebook, and practicing yoga!

Don’t forget to check out my blog at I post pretty regularly there now. Join the conversation!

The last thing I want to mention is this. Several of my friends have released good new music recently. Rachel Roberts has a project called Sexis Sixes – good funky, sultry music (! Winslow is about to release their new record this Friday at Musica – a good mix of rock, soul, and jazz (and featuring Bright Light, Charlie Trenta on guitar)  Colin John just released a double disc Best of, featuring both the acoustic and electric styles he has been bluesing over the years ( Hey Mavis released a wonderful folky, fun, newgrassy record last month ( Charlie Mosbrook has released a record last month as well ( There are many more, too.  Support live, local, original music, and the venues that support us. Without concert goers and music fans, not only do we cease to exist, but our society loses something very integral to the continuation of our culture, and indeed, our survival.

We can all make a difference. All of us. Sometimes a big difference, sometimes a small one. Always an important one. Start with yourself. Connect with the best we can be, and live as much as possible in kindness, compassion, and Love. It’s possible. We can create it within, and ultimately around us. Be the change you wish to see. Together we can do unbelievably amazing things!


Unexpected Adventures

I've learned a number of things on the road over the last 15 years.

One of the biggies is this: always allow for unexpected adventures.

I used to tour along the East Coast, and I would always try to stop for random roadside attractions when they fit into an opening, or a free moment. This idea has been expanding ever since. Now, I actually route my tours by places I want to see and be. After several years of driving by Joshua Tree National Park, I finally added it into my schedule this last tour.

The opportunity to relax under a giant sky in a beautiful place is so refreshing. It mends and clears wounded and tired parts of us. We typically spin our wheels a million miles an hour and have a difficult time slowing down.

For many years, I grappled with the idea of personal time. Every waking minute was spent in my music, and taking any time for myself - to see a film, spend an afternoon in a forest, taking an evening to go to a yoga class - anything had to be triple justified. Whatever value I could have gotten from those experiences where often diminished anyway, as I would be thinking about music and feeling guilty for not working on it during the whole event.

Then something happened to me in the mountains.

I felt at home. Relaxed and perfect. Refreshed. Inspired. It all hit me how much I was wearing away of myself by not making personal time, and not growing the soul that cried to open its wings. Surly my music was being limited by my unhealthy attitude towards everything in my life aside from music.

As I allowed for more time to grow spiritually, my music has followed this path. It has grown and taken me into yoga studios and beautiful veggie fests.

I am still working on a balance, but living is an important aspect of life. My inspiration and connection to myself and the Divine has grown exponentially.

So, always leave the door open for an unexpected adventure.