In a world where breasts and marketing saturate the music business it is nice to know that somewhere a man is singing a song with his friends (or by himself), and that man is Zach Johnson.Zach Johnson has the smooth guitar lines of James Taylor, the spunk and soul of Joni Mitchell, the vocals of Elvis Costello, and the songwriting ability of all three.
“Zach Johnson and Friends,” as it was billed, played the Underground last Thursday (that’s May 1 for you all keeping track at home). I have not seen that many people in the coffeehouse all year (besides for a comedian). And as all of the people that were there can attest, Zach and his friends were hella entertaining.
Whether it was the guitar playing of S. McC, the yelling of chords by Amber Evey during Zach’s violin solo, or just the simply amazing songs done by Zach and his friends, the night was proof that people still play good music in this world, even if all you see on MTV and hear on the radio is Russian lesbian teenagers who only sing about making out with each other.
Zach said to the audience that he worried that it might turn into a bad talent show, but it never fell to that level. If a wrong note was hit, they’d just laugh it off. If someone would play the wrong opening guitar part they would just start over, three or four times. And as I said, if Zach didn’t know the chord progression for a song, Amber was there to help him out.
Highlights of that night for me were the “Nickel Creek” number done by Zach, Amber, Megan Flod, and Patrick Elhers. The rocking out of Professor McCardell and Zach on a Bonnie Raitt song, as I just said, rocked. Also, Zach, Katherine Moore, and Steven Girard doing “Top of the World” by Patty Griffin was amazing. Oh, can’t forget Zach and Anna doing “The Lucky One;” now that is a good song.
I also had the pleasure last Sunday of having Zach on my radio show. This was a more intimate performance since it was only Zach, a guitar, and two mics.
Zach played all originals and proved that even if he is one of the funniest people on campus, he couldn’t write a funny song if he tried. Every song seemed sadly beautiful. I mean, he even said that one song was happy, but when he played it the song still came off melancholy.
If you missed Zach live at the coffeehouse or on my show, don’t worry. He’ll be at this year’s Zoo Days, brought to you by Ormsby Hall on May 17. So if you’re there building a shack at Shack-a-thon you can stop by and listen to the guy everyone is talking about.
(Well, really, I’ve been the one talking about him).