Chris Zehnder • Meaning Making and Going Back to the Future

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music,   From Issue 824   By: Robert 'Bo' White

17th March, 2016     0

Chris Zehnder has been a compelling presence in the Music Scene in the Great Lakes Bay Region of Michigan. He cut his teeth with The Avery Set, a great band that was done too soon. College, travel and life itself intervened to give Chris a wanderlust that served him well. As a result, Zehnder matured and blossomed as an artist. He can do rock, country, alternative and acoustic solo without blinking. He’s earned his stripes the hard way, moving out and moving forward but never leaving us behind. This disc is the proof that great music continues to be crafted. Thank god for Andy Reed, Donny Brown and the host of musicians that created this living document of great music.

Goin’ Through the Motions

Opens in a high pitched howl, like a green manalishi with a two pronged crown; segues into a country guitar like Don Rich admiring Porter Waggoner’s doo. The guitar slices, moans, bends the e-string and comes back for a cool bass line. He sounds like Pete Kleinow from the Flying Burrito Brothers. Zehnder is an exceptional singer. He’s matured as a vocalist and is able to hit the notes strong and pure with cool vocal asides that help tell the story. Sample the lyrics:  I got ghosts that are changing my luck / Sacrifice as a symbol of love / Sign me up as a candidate and cast your vote / Spill my blood on the parish lawn / Flatter me with a eulogy song / If you’re note broken hearted something's wrong.

Charlie's Smile begins with a staccato piano chords and the high hat signals the rhythm section to kick it in, bass, guitar and organ and hand claps for emphasis. Electric guitar solos, sweet as cornbread. Zehnder sings with feeling and a deeper sense of who he is and will be.

Living it Down opens with a cool circular guitar pattern followed by a high pitched oooh that signals the band to kick it in with some righteousness. Tambourine and drums pound out the heavy feel as circular guitar patterns give it a lift. The e-string gets a workout with a sweet unencumbered sustain.

We Ride Again. This is another countrified chestnut, acoustic strumming, moaning guitar trills that sound like a pedal steel. The music is rich, layered, beautiful…and sad. Roscoe Selley fills it out with his evocative harp patterns, perfect! Zehnder sings with a cry in his voice like George Jones coming off a bender. It all coalesces at the end with a brush of organ, harp and guitar. I’ve been waiting for music like this since The Band called it quits.

Cold Water Blues. The song opens with a false beginning that is followed by guitar and vocals. An organ screams and gives the music a punch. A slide guitar sneaks in, tough and economical. The guitarist is a master, using economy as he goes from e-string to the bass string like ringing a bell. You can tell these cats are having the time of their lives.

A Note From Chris Zehnder: “I did most of the arrangements, Donny Brown also helped with arrangements and production. I was lucky enough to work with so many amazing musicians.



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