By Kimber Fountain
Zak Perry chose Guitar class for an elective in high school, only because he thought it would be easy. Turned out it was in fact easy, because stumbling upon something that was already looking for you always is. Zak’s mother was an accomplished pianist, and “I think my Dad wanted to be Frank Sinatra,” Zak says of his father, who was a nightclub performer for many years. “They soon became my biggest fans,” and his subsequent twenty-plus year career has taken him all over the country, resulted in seven studio albums, and has at last landed him in Galveston, where his genuine performances and authentic songwriting have found an eager audience.
“Early on, the music wasn’t the priority,” Zak remembers, “at first it was just about the partying and the lifestyle.” Then his musical journey took him to New York, where he was introduced to, and eventually mentored by, the work of artists like Warren Hayes and Neil Young. “It is just impossible to pigeonhole their style,” he says. “I liked that,” and their music influenced Zak to carve out his impossibly vague, yet undeniably attractive, songwriting style. It can be heard, or more appropriately not heard, in his deft maneuvering from genre to genre, both between and within songs, which never fails to keep you from wondering just what he will play next.
In addition to songwriter credits and a markedly popular acoustic/solo career, his recording and many of his performance endeavors are backed by The Zak Perry Band, with whom he recently released the 2014 full-length album “Broken Glass Parade.” The bedrock of the band is Zak’s twenty year relationship with guitarist Vern Vennard, whose array of talents cover lead, rhythm, and slide guitar, keys, percussion, and harmony vocals. “We have stuck together for a really long time,” Zak says, “but we have had a lot of different bassists.” Their sound is solidified by talented percussionist Jason Charron, who has been with Zak almost as long as Vern. The band recently signed on with a new booking agent, Road Dawg Productions.
The Zak Perry Band’s latest release, “Broken Glass Parade” was recorded and edited entirely in a home studio established by Zak and Vern. “Over the years we have spent so much money to pay for studio time and editing, so we decided to put that money towards purchasing our own equipment. So literally everything, the strings, the horns, all of it, was recorded in the studio we set up in Vern’s living room.” That, however, is a fact that you would never believe to be true upon hearing the album’s sound quality, and the overall result would be better defined as a symphony than an album. Embellished by the classical angst that only a broken heart can deliver, myriads of instruments, from strings, to accordions, to French Horns and congas, clearly and unapologetically showcase Zak’s alluring vocal acuity.
“I was living in Austin, but a girl broke my heart,” Zak explains with a sardonic grin. “So I moved to Galveston, and this was the first song I wrote when I got here,” he says, speaking of a song entitled “Bad Habits & Your Memory.” Quite possibly one of the best broken-heart songs ever conceived, the song is catchy for all of the right reasons, not the least of which is its stirring simplicity. The title track, “Broken Glass Parade,” “is also about her,” Zak points out with a chuckle. The song’s ballad-like composition morphs into a dark, but whimsical cacophony of brass and cymbals, and as the opening track of the album, like the Master of Ceremonies, it ushers in high expectations for the parade of melodies that follow. None of them disappoint.
Zak Perry and his band are featured weekly all over the Island, and many locations have shown him continued support since his move to Galveston. He has played an acoustic set at the Poop Deck every Friday for three years now, and was recently seen at the grand-reopening of Bobbie’s House of Spirits, one of the first places in Galveston to showcase his music. Zak Perry can also be seen every Saturday at Hemingway’s from 4-8pm. In an effort to give back to the Island community, Zak has launched his first annual ‘Island of Misfits Toy Drive’ in conjunction with Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe, and will feature performances and an open mic for both musicians and poets. The event will take place on December 20th, and all proceeds from the Toy Drive will benefit local, less fortunate children.
Soon, Zak Perry plans to take to the road on a tour that will take him from Texas all the way to California where he plans to meet up with his son, whom he raised by himself, when he graduates from boot camp for the US Marine Corps. “I’m not sure if I will come back,” Zak says with a curious smile, “I might just want to stay in California… But I do know that Galveston will always be special to me, and I will always come play here.”
For more info contact Zak Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org or The Zak Perry Band at www.zakperryband.com, www.facebook.com/zakperryband.