Sunday, March 20, 2016

Chris Zehnder is back with a spectacular new CD

                                                       Chris Zehnder

                                Meaning Making and Going Back to the Future

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.

Donny Brown - Drums/co-production

Hank Horton - Bass

Jim Alfredson - Organ, Wurlitzer

Ron RoscoSelley - Harmonica

Scott Vandell - Lead Guitar

Andy Reed - Bass on "Cold Water Blues"

Me - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Organ, Piano, Rhythm Electric Guitar


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 Red Rhodes from Michael Nesmith’s Ist National Band. 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

Baby I'm just going through the motions

Watching love from behind the gates

Step inside, you get flooded with devotion

I guess the devil says what he needs to say

Tablets roll down a lost highway

We shattered stone that should never break

Be my witness, but don't give me away

But now my baby's got a criminal past

She treads lightly on the capitol grass

Leave your footprints mama, I'm coming back



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. He’s come along way

We're paying off the fisherman to catch us a note

A stranger to the faces that have made up that band

But native to the feeling of compassionate hands

But I don't know if we'll ever feel it again

And we been righteous so long,

All our disciples are gone

And I've been swimming the lengths of the river

Living it Down

The song opens with a cool circular guitar pattern followed by a high pitched ooh that signals the band it 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

Escapist heart road a western wind

On a weak handshake for love to begin

Put faith in dirt if you wish to bloom

And the pouring rain fell none too soon

And your bags are packed with all you've got to prove

I'm living it down

I can't hold on

When you’re running around

We Ride Again. This is another countrified chestnut, acoustic struming, 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

They said I'd never live to see tomorrow

They said my heart was gonna storm

And I will return what I have borrowed

The souvenirs that I've adored

But I never understand what you gave me

Like I never understand what it means to be a man

But holding it now makes me feel lucky

But I never understand what you gave me

Like I never understand how I vanish through your hand

It's only the living who could feel lonely

When all our time amounts to nothin

Round and again, round and again, we ride again

Cold Water Blues. The song opens with a false beginning followed by guitar and vocals. An organ screams and gives the music a punch. A slide guitar sneaks in, tough and provacative. 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.

I'm goin down to the cold water

Gotta bring my soul to life

Whatever’s in the river gotta get me in your graces on time

Well I'm goin’ down to the cold water

Gonna dress myself in white

Clean these evil urges gotta hide em from a Saturday night

I've never been a stranger to touch

Your medicine is never enough

You hope for liberation and end up getting caught in the mud

All these sounds that pass for rhythm

They sit crooked in my bones

Wave your flag and take me home

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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