Zach Williams is the front man for current up and coming sensation The Lone Bellow. I personally began following his career around seven years ago. From the very beginning I have been impressed. He approach to music has always been filled with an honesty that comes blasting through his vocals. Other than Sufjan Stevens and The Weakerthans there is no other artist I have written about more frequently on The World Forgot. Seriously, I’ve written a lot about his career (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, exclusive ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen) starting in 2006 when I found him on MySpace and continuing through a few months ago when I helped financially support his latest album via Kickstarter.
My interest began by trolling through MySpace (something all bloggers did in 2006). I found his music, ripped a few tracks, and put them up on my blog. I used them copiously in mixes. As the years rolled on Zach and I eventually exchanged emails and I encouraged him to continue making music. From that first song I believed he had a unique voice. An honest voice. Eventually Zach moved to New York and our communications eventually drifted apart. Through it all I followed his music and continued to push his albums on my siblings and friends as Christmas and birthday presents. I even convinced some friends in New York to go to his shows. The one comment I remember those friends telling me is that they met Zach after the show and he was “incredibly nice.”
I often thought of driving to New York to see a show, but financially it really wasn’t an option. And then a few months ago Zach’s latest band, The Lone Bellow, announced that they going on a small tour and would be playing in my current home town. The only catch; they were going to play on a day when I was going to be out of town. My wife and I called the airline and the resort to see if we could get an earlier flight. The cost to change reservations was over $300 – once again I was financially unable to attend a Zach Williams show. I was bummed, but it didn’t last long. The Lone Bellow backed out of their original performances and rescheduled for later in the year (this time as a headliner – not the opening act).
I carefully cleared my schedule. I couldn’t find anyone who was free to attend the show. I went alone.
I was standing at the back of the venue during the opening group because I usually see someone I know when I’m at this venue. And then Zach walked in on a video call, stood right in front of me for a few minutes, and then walked past me again on his way out the front door. I stopped him at that point (sorry for interrupting your call) and he gave me a head nod that clearly communicated “I don’t know you, but people often call out my name, so hi.” I wasn’t even sure if he would remember me and I hadn’t even attempted to let him know I would be at the show, but when I introduced myself he lit up immediately. We got to meet face to face after seven years of internet encouragement. During the show he even told the brief story of a kid named Billy who had a music blog who believed in him all those years ago when he was playing 2am shows in Chinatown.
From all of this you could probably surmise that I’m slightly biased. However, my wife pointed out that they must be doing something right if they’ve been in People magazine twice now (Zach humbly and instantly gave all the credit to their “really good publicist”). All personal connections aside, The Lone Bellow put on a gem of a concert. They played and joked for around 90 minutes. They hit all of the songs from their debut album, covered the John Prine & Bonnie Ratt song Angel From Montgomery (which you can watch here on vimeo), as well as Paul Simon’s Slip Slidin’ Away, and interacted with the audience in a way that made everyone feel like they were a part of some special shared moment.
At the end of the regular set Zach mentioned they were approaching the end of the road which prompted a front row patron to spontaneously launch into the chorus of Boyz II Men’s staple End Of The Road. The band took it in stride and sang two full verses acapella. Then for the start of their three song encore, just to prove they had some legitimate 90′s R&B credibility, they sang a wonderful rendition of Mariah Carey’s Always Be My Baby. The crowd loved it and you could see the band was truly enjoying themselves in Indianapolis.
During our brief conversation I asked Zach if he felt they had finally made it. He was straightforward in his response saying they’ve all quit their other jobs and this band is paying their bills. I still believe in the honesty of Zach’s voice. There is an undeniable intensity to his performance and I can’t encourage you enough to go see them when they play your town. Their debut album is a solid effort, but it is elevated to to a true experience when it’s played in a live setting. You’re invited to sing along and become a part of a unique moment in time that will leave a smile lingering for days after it’s done.
Zach – it was great to finally meet you in person. I’m eagerly looking forward to your long and successful music career. Come back and play in Indianapolis some day.