I first met Zig Zeitler around 1999 when he popped up @ White's Bar and started jamming with Marty Viers. I had never heard anything like Zig before or after. He possessed an otherworldly voice that made me sit up and take notice. I wasn't sure what he was singing about but it seemed like a mix of ancient French Bayou, English and Pig Latin. I remember his oddly distinctive version of Mustang Sally. He didn't do the Wilson Pickett version but instead copped to his own muse.
Mustang Sally / Guess you gotta slow your Mustang down / You've been running all over town now / Guess you gotta put your smelly feet on the ground
It was perfectly rebellious and hilarious at the same time. In that very moment I was a true believer. He became my ayatollah of creole-la and my snooze ya lose the blues kingpin. He went on to establish the White Crow Conservatory of Music with his wife Siusan O'Rourke in the northwest part of Saginaw. They've been creating, developing and booking talented singers, musicians and songwriters from across the country. They also have established a popular music program for children and adults who want to learn to play instruments such as piano & guitar.
Zig has performed for over 40 years and has released 18 CDs of original music. He has shared the stage with such legendary artists as Lazy Lester and Buckwheat Zydeco. He and Siusan continue to crisscross the country in pursuit of taking his music to every nook and cranny of the country where people gather to listen to authentic Americana, Zydeco, Roots, Blues and Irish music. He is a master craftsman and a multi-instrumentalist who is a student of musical expression and a true believer. It is always reassuring to me whenever I hear Zig perform. We need him to remind us of that which is pure and beautiful….the voice of the everyman.
Zig's latest release is a throwback to those early rock & roll rhythms that recall Elvis as well as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Dick Dale & the Del-Tones. Listening to this disc is like eating a warm slice of apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and knowing for a brief moment that everything is aligned and in its place. All is well. So cast your mind back to those halcyon days and astound to Zig Zeitler's loving tribute to rock & roll, surf and rockabilly.
He opens with Stray Dog a rockabilly number with a hot walking bassline, harmonica flourishes and jangly guitar from bass to e-string and back. Zeitler sings it low and cool like a native Cajun in the French Quarter. He captures the essence of early rock & roll and sounds a bit like Brian Setzer. He does an about face with I'm so tired. The Peter Gunn riff and heavy bass string boogie is irresistible. Zeitler is an underrated picker. He can make the guitar smile out loud like a kid on Christmas morning.
The title song is a winner. It's cool go-daddy-go rockabilly with a just enough tremolo and a tip of the hat to 12 bar blues based on the Sufaris version of Wipeout. Zeitler gets down to his Cajun/Zydeco roots with Bad Spell, a minor chord gem about some bad juju. The mojo just ain't working this time. He even tips his hat to the 9-to-5 working stiffs who are happy just to have a job. I hear the anger in the lyric: Ain't I lucky / Sure is ducky / All I have to do / Is work nine to five
Zeitler is an accomplished musician who understands a minimalist approach and allowing undisturbed spaces for the music to breathe. This is true of his song Aby Lynn. The sparse instrumentation provides the space to build upon Aby's cool invisible voodoo that no man can resist. For Zig the only alternative is to fall in love.
The best song on the disc is Allous Dancer Mon Cher. This is up-tempo Bayou Blastin' music of the highest pedigree. Zeitler sings in French as well as English, a purist indeed! The mix of ancient rockabilly/zydeco sounds provides the perfect sounds cape for a great time. It is perfectly charming.
Zeitler even throws in an ode to the surfing craze with Surf Butz. It opens with a single bongo workout and the unmistakable wipeout riff and some over-the-top cool tremolo guitar that would make Dick Dale smile like a Cheshire cat. Zeitler recreates the sounds of surf guitar with fast scales, reverb and that dynamic wet sound that makes you wanna go the beach and hang out with moon doggie.
I've Got a Woman is Zeither's tribute to Don Rich and the Bakersfield Sound. This is stripped down elemental rock & roll. You don't hear too much of that anymore. It's precious and should be preserved. The disc ends with a be-bop jump and jive ditty called Abigail. It's some kinda tasty. Roll over Chuck Berry, dig them Blue Suede Shoes.
Zeitler is on a mission to keep music alive and this disc is the living proof. It is a comforting throwback to an era when rhythm, melody and harmony mattered. Dig the warm analogue sound - Long Live Zig Zeitler!
You can purchase Everything I Did Wrong Was Right at the White Crow Conservatory located at 3736 Mackinaw in Saginaw; Call Zeitler @ 790-2118.