By popular demand, I’ve been asked to return to the Blue Frog for an extended evening of Buddy Holly. The 7pm shows on January 15 and 16th are SOLD OUT but the 9:30 shows still have some tickets left. Get your tickets HERE.
The Arts Club’s Red Rock Diner is now rockin’ Granville Island Stage until August 2nd. It is a time capsule of 1950s Vancouver and explores the legacy of Red Robinson. I play Val, the greaser kid from Kitsilano who idolizes Elvis, sings and wiggles his hips. I’m very proud of this show and the team that put it together. Get your tickets soon before they are all sold out!
Acting and performing is a rewarding but often exhausting profession. At the end of the run of the Buddy Holly Story, my muscles protested and my brain needed new batteries. On that particular closing night, I had picked up my girlfriend early from the airport; I had flown to Victoria and back for an emergency a day before, it was the end of a long week at the end of a long run.
After I had greeted the audience in the lobby at the CDs table as per usual, the cast gathered in the lobby for a toast and some words of congratulations. The crew began to tear down the set and we gathered our loose ends in the dressing rooms. Mine was particularly bad. At my station: hair sprays and brylcream, multiple pairs of glasses, greeting cards, towels, flowers, LPs, tonnes of coins and my “little Buddy” figurine. On top of this, I had boxes of remaining CDs and my guitar to pick up.
With arms loaded with the aforementioned articles, my gal and I seized the opportunity to flag down a taxi at first sight. We loaded in, loaded out at my apartment and took a nap. There was just one thing- amidst the chaos I completely forgot that Bill (director) had asked me to meet a young fan in the lobby that had brought his guitar to sign! By the time I remembered, it was hours later and too late. I felt horrible.
Fortunately, everyone behind the scenes at the Arts Club were happy to help me try to amend the situation. They were able to track down a phone number. I called and got the young lads mom, Hiromi, on the line. We set a time to meet outside the Stanley Theatre.
Meet Lance! Turns out, he’s my number one fan! He saw the show back in 2010 and has been a big fan ever since. He even got a super-cool, Fender guitar only made in Japan that looks like Buddy’s Strat, only Lance-sized! I was finally able to put my name on it. I tuned it up and we jammed a little of “Rave On” on the street. They were very gracious and even made me a custom “Buddy” bottle of wine!
I recently got to enjoy the Buddy wine at a romantic dinner. Delicious. It prompted me to write this little thank you note to Lance and his mom. It’s for people like you that I do what I do. Thank you so much for your thoughtful gift and for your appreciation of my performance. And, Lance, next time I see you – I wanna see YOU rockin’ out Rave On on that sweet guitar!
Well, Buddy VII has now come and gone. And, oh, so quickly, too. I want to thank each and everyone who, once again, made this production so spectacular and also, all those who attended and made the performance electric with their enthusiasm.
Thank you (as pictured left to right) Bill, Caryn, Tom, Mark, Jeremy, Martin, Mat, Mark, Bob, Neil, Tim, Tom, Pattie, Henry, Sasha, Elena, Sibel, Ronaye, Heather, Mark, Alec, Joseph, Jeff, Geoff, Michael, Seana-Lee, Scott, Marlene, and Denay. An extraordinary team!
It is truly remarkable how the music Buddy created, in his short life, has lived on and given a creative life to so many artists around the world as we tell his story and learn through his journey a little about ourselves. I’ve made some of my closest friends, had the best collaborations and forged my fondest performance memories through Buddy.
I guess, in a strange way, I feel he’s become one my good friends. I’m eternally grateful for the journey he started and I’ve been traveling for the past 6 years. I’m happy to extend his life in my own way.
Thank you, Buddy.
Eight shows a week (and a quick trip to see the Jays in Seattle) have kept me very busy as of late. I figured, at very least, I could share a couple interviews I did recently. Hope to see you at the Stanley!
Here is an appearance on Vancouver’s Urban Rush:
From the Courier, July 31st:
10 Questions: Buddy-ing actor makes Holly pilgrimage
By Michael Kissinger, Vancouver Courier
Vancouver audiences know Zachary Stevenson for his Jessie Award-nominated portrayal of Buddy Holly in the Arts Club’s crowd-pleasing Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, which returns to the Stanley this summer and runs until Aug. 26. But the local rock ’n’ roller is also a talented singer-songwriter, both as a solo artist and as a member of the band the Human Statues. Stevenson took time from his busy schedule to rave on with the Courier and discuss songwriting, eyeware and his likeness to Cee-lo Green.
1. Where does one find proper Buddy Holly glasses?
eBay! Actually, you know, it’s really tough to find really authentic Buddy glasses. They have really strong angles, which few modern dark-rimmed hipster glasses do.
2. Having played Buddy Holly and performed his songs so many times, do you feel your performance has evolved or changed?
Absolutely. When I was first cast as Buddy, I was a shaggy-haired, side-burned hippy coming off a production of Hair. I played a decent folk guitar but had never played blues or rock on an electric. I worked really hard to get it off the ground. Every production since has given me another crack to dig a little deeper and get more detailed. Also working with multiple directors and actors contribute a lot to refining the character as well. A couple of summers ago I finally went down to Lubbock, Texas; Clovis, New Mexico; and Clear Lake, Iowa to do some hands-on research and reflection on the trail of Buddy Holly, which deepened my connection with him. There’s a really cool video my sister made of the trip called “Searching for Buddy Holly” on YouTube.
3. What was it like to actually see in person the towns, recording studios and concert halls portrayed in the production and even perform a song with one of Holly’s backup singers?
Unforgettable. I had already logged over 200 performances of the Buddy Holly Story before I finally was able to head down and see some of the locations that we portray onstage. I’d spent so many hours visualizing these places that it was really surreal to actually be in the presence. It was quite emotional to actually step into that studio floor. I’m not a “spiritual” person per se. But I could really feel the presence of energy and the vibrations that Buddy and the boys had caused in those walls all those years ago.
4. How has playing Buddy Holly influenced your own songwriting?
Editing. Most of Buddy Holly’s songs are not much longer than two minutes. No self-indulgence here. Helps me to edit anything that is extraneous to the song.
5. Your recently released album Smashed Hits consists of covers of Buddy Holly songs and other early rock ’n’ roll classics, and the album art looks of that time period. What about that era of music appeals to you?
I love how exciting it was for people to hear new songs on the radio. How there was a lot of mystery about the performers. That people gathered ’round the record player and listened to music and treated it with more reverence and focus. We consume so much music now on the go and with visuals on the Internet. A lot of pop music has become a little like fast food.
6. You’ve played Phil Ochs, Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly on stage. Which one is the hardest to play?
Jerry Lee was. Mostly because I’m not a natural Boogie-Woogie player so it took A LOT of practice to give up to a performable level. I think I naturally share more in common, personality-wise, with the other guys, too.
7. What modern day musician do you think you’d be best suited to portray?
How ’bout Cee-lo Green? A lot of people have said I look like Chris Isaac but I’d love to be Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie (one of my fav bands).
8. Have you ever suffered any Buddy Holly-related injuries?
Haha. Just last night I sliced up my finger pretty good on a broken string.
9. What kind of music do you listen to when you’re at home?
I listen to a lot of different styles. I just bought Hey Ocean’s latest album. It’s really good.
10. I assume there are times when you must get tired of playing the same songs night after night. What is the key to warding off Buddy Holly exhaustion?
The look in an older lady’s eyes as she tells me how she couldn’t keep still during the performance and how much it meant to her to hear those songs that flooded her with memories of her youth. It reminds me of the power of music and why I love it so much. Though, I may not wake up every morning thinking “I can’t wait to play ‘Peggy Sue’ yet again tonight!” I do go to bed every night thankful I did.
Relive rock ‘n’ roll history
Via the Nelson Star:
Updated: November 01, 2011 12:17 PM
The Capitol Theatre is thrilled to present the world’s most successful rock ‘n’ roll musical this coming Tuesday.
Peggy Sue, That’ll Be the Day, Not Fade Away, — the list of hit songs penned by Buddy Holly goes on and on. By his untimely death, the legend had already changed popular culture forever. Vibrant and celebratory, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story highlights the talent and passion that lives on in his music, thrilling audiences long after they dance out of the theatre.
In 1989, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story premiered in London’s West End and ran for 13 years. The UK tour of Buddy has run for over nine years and the show has enjoyed success playing Broadway and around the world. Buddy has now been seen by over 20 million people. Alan Janes was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Musical and internationally Buddy has received 13 nominations and awards.
“Red Robinson gave me a copy of an interview he did with Buddy Holly when he was in Vancouver in October 1957 for a concert, shortly after That’ll Be the Day had been released,” says Bill Millerd, director of Buddy and artistic managing director for the Arts Club remembers. “In the interview, Buddy is bashful and awkward with none of that self-awareness that we often hear from mega-stars — a working musician in love with music making.
The talented performers in our production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story exude that same quality.”
The show stars Zachary Stevenson with Jeff Bryant, Scott Carmichael, Marlene Ginader, Jeff Gladstone, Jeremy Holmes, Elena Juatco, Kieran Martin Murphy, Michael Scholar Jr., Milo Shandel, Denis Simpson, Sibel Thrasher, Alec Willows and Seana Lee Wood.
Charge by phone 250-352-6363 buy online capitoltheatre.bc.ca.
Arts Club brings Buddy Holly back to life
Published: October 19, 2011 9:00 AM
Zachary Stevenson doesn’t just play legendary rock-n-roller Buddy Holly?. He lives him, despite Holly’s very vibrant yet tragically fleeting career and life span.
Stevenson and the Arts Club musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story play at Coquitlam’s Evergreen Cultural Centre from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.
The show has taken off as part of a series that opened last month and tours through November at various B.C. cities, just as Holly’s music career was doing before his untimely death.
“The day the music died,” as Don McLean wrote in his 1971 tribute song, American Pie, was Feb. 2, 1959, when the chartered plane in which he was travelling crashed in a Iowa farm field and claimed his life of a mere 22 years, along with those of other rising singers: Ritchie Valens?, 17, and 28-year-old J.P. “The Big Bopper?” Richardson.
While Stevenson, 29, is far too young to remember Holly firsthand, his own band, Human Statues, has its music infused with duo harmonies similar to The Beatles, who made it no secret in their early days they were inspired greatly by Holly.
It is said that Holly set the template for the standard rock and roll band: Two guitars, a bass and drums. He was also one of the first of his genre to write, produce and perform his own songs.
“I really only know the basics about Buddy… and maybe a little more for someone my age,” Stevenson, a Parksville native and current Vancouver resident, told The Tri-City News on Monday. “I didn’t even realize before he was from Texas. I didn’t hear that [accent] in his voice. He was an interesting character. He was polite and of Baptist religion, yet kind of rebellious at the same time.
“His music was really kind of punk rock for its day,” Stevenson said.
The play also involves Holly’s love interest, Maria Elena Stantiago, whom he proposed to after a whirlwind romance and was left a widow after only six months of marriage.
She was pregnant at the time of Holly’s death and miscarried shortly after, reportedly due to pyschological trauma.
“There’s only so much we know about him,” Stevenson said of Holly, who perished only 18 months after his biggest hit, That’ll be the Day, was released. “What we do have is his music itself and the energy it reveals… about life and love and all that stuff a young man goes through. But, at the same time, it’s cutting edge, too.”
Elena Juatco, who plays Holly’s wife Maria, says everybody in the play has a true and timeless connection with Holly, whose other hits include Peggy Sue and Not Fade Away.
“I think it’s important to say we all love music and this show’s about Buddy Holly and his music,” Juatco says in an interview on the Arts Club’s website (www.artsclub.com). “Everyone on our cast plays an instrument and when we have breaks everyone picks up a guitar or gets on drums and we just start jamming together.”
On Sept. 7 and what would have been his 75th birthday, Holly received a star posthumously on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And he has a star like Stevenson, paying him a live tribute well-worth watching.
• For tickets, call Evergreen at 604-927-6555.
Via Surrey Now: One dead ringer for several dead singers
On stage at Surrey Arts Centre; Zachary Stevenson best known for becoming Buddy Holly in Arts Club’s hit musical about doomed rocker
By Adrian Chamberlain, Surrey Now
Zachary Stevenson plugs in again for Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, on stage at Surrey Arts Centre until Oct. 28.
Need help bringing a dead singing star to life?
Call Zachary Stevenson.
The actor-singer once starred in a show about protest singer Phil Ochs. He’s also portrayed country icon Hank Williams on stage.
But Stevenson is best known for becoming Buddy Holly.
“I’ve cornered the market as an actor, playing singers who have untimely deaths who wrote songs and played guitar,” said Stevenson with a smile.
For an interview, Stevenson wore the same prescription horn-rims he sports in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, which on Tuesday (Oct. 11) opened a two-week run at Surrey Arts Centre’s main stage.
Stevenson, who ordinarily plays acoustic guitar, straps on an electric to play the rocker who wrote “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be the Day.” His uncanny imitation and persona of the doomed rocker landed him the plum role with the Arts Club Theatre Company production.
“I initially was approached to perform in the full musical in Ontario,” said the 29-year-old. “I researched him, the era and his music.”
Stevenson has spent hours pouring over the Internet, reading about the legendary singer and hearing his music.
“I was very meticulous in the smallest of details about Buddy Holly because I wanted to capture his essence,” he said.
“As far as looking like him, I wear glasses and have curly hair myself, so that helps.”
Last year, Stevenson was chosen as one of the Vancouver Sun’s “10 Rising Talents to Watch for in the Arts.” According to the Sun’s arts critic, Peter Birnie, the young singer has: ” … mastered a mimicry of some interesting singers, and it’s paid off.”
Birnie also went on to say this about his role in Buddy: “Zachary Stevenson nails the rock ‘n’ roll legend in a full-throttle tribute that fires on all cylinders.”
After performing Holly on stage in a half-dozen productions across Canada, the lanky actor/singer has mastered Holly’s vocal inflections.
“I really trained on his accent marks in the lyrics so I could get all the hiccups down-pat before the first show,” he added. “I polish my performance every time and it feels more and more natural. Now, I can step on stage and be Buddy.”
He went on to add that: “Although Buddy’s songs were simple, he didn’t follow the typical rock formula of the times. His music is timeless because of that rock ‘n’ roll spirit he portrayed. He had a lot of energy on stage.”
Stevenson said he never set out to mimic deceased music legends. While at the University of Victoria studying for a theatre degree, the budding performer developed a one-man show about Phil Ochs, an obscure American protest singer who committed suicide in 1976 at the age of 35.
Stevenson spent endless hours listening to Ochs albums in his father’s record collection.
“I’d sit in my house in Parksville and play the record and play along, trying to figure out his picking pattern,” he said.
Meanwhile, Stevenson said the hits that made Buddy Holly a household name get everyone in the audience up on their feet and dancing.
“Everybody also starts singing,” he said. “It is so much fun for me to see the audience get into the music as much as I do.
“Some of the younger audience has told me it’s the closest they’ll get to seeing Buddy Holly perform, and the older crowd tell me they get energized and they tell me they have great memories of that era.? As long as people keep wanting the music, I’ll keep performing it.”
Stevenson has found success playing his own music as well, with folk-pop duo The Human Statues. “I guess you can describe our music as influenced primarily by early pop like The Beatles, but with a modern twist,” he said. “We are often compared to the Barenaked Ladies … but we aren’t a novelty act.”
As for playing another deceased music legend, well, Stevenson certainly isn’t averse to the idea.
“People say ‘who’s next?’ And I say I don’t know. Jimi Hendrix? I don’t know if I can pull that one off.”
with file from Richmond News
‘BUDDY’ AT SURREY ARTS CENTRE Tickets range from $29 to $48 for Buddy:
The Buddy Holly Story at Surrey Arts Centre’s main stage, from Oct. 11-28 (select dates). For show and ticket info, call 604-501-5566 or visit www.surrey.ca/arts.
© Copyright (c) Surrey Now
In the year Buddy Holly would’ve turned 75, his spirit is, once again, on tour. Last night we opened the Arts Club’s touring production of the Buddy Holly at Capilano University to a rockin’ crowd. Kudos to our newest cast members Gordon Roberts, Mat Baker, Tom Pickett and Mark Burgess for learning the entire show in a mere 6 rehearsals!
Last night I was reminded just how demanding this role is physically and vocally and how much energy it takes honor the show and memory of Buddy Holly. But it is never hard to pull off when the music moves you. We have the same Crickets (band) as last year – Scott Carmichael, Jeremy Holmes and fellow Human Statue, Jeff Bryant. And together it sounds dynamite!
This tour begins in North Vancouver, and tours to Burnaby, West Van, Surrey, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Mission, Nelson, Kelowna, Chilliwak, Vernon, Cranbrook, Victoria, Courtenay, and closes at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo on November 20th.
For full details and links on how to buy tickets visit the Arts Club site.
Click the Streampad below to hear my cut of “That’ll be the Day”
Yes, Buddy Holly is back in my life yet again! “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” was so popular last year at the Arts Club Theatre, the producers of Legends of Rock n’ Roll teamed up with me to produced a tribute concert for those who just couldn’t get enough Buddy Holly or for those who couldn’t make it to the theatrical production.
I’ve assembled two other fantastic performers- Bill Culp and Ben Kunder to feature as the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, respectively, creating a concert line-up similar to the infamous Winter Dance Party tour that ended in tragedy in 1959.
Join us, to prove Don McLean wrong that music never did die on that fateful day while we Rave On into the night with fantastic music performances of many of your favorites!
Watch the video on the right about my journey into Iowa, New Mexico and Texas, tracing Buddy Holly’s history —–>
THE BUDDY HOLLY CONCERT dates:
May 7 – Genesis Theatre
Tickets at (604) 507-6355
Or On-Line at www.bellperformingartscentre.com
May 9 – Mary Windspear Centre
Tickets at (250) 656-0275
Or On-Line at www.marywinspear.ca
May 10 – Cowichan Theatre
Tickets at (250) 748-7529
Or On-Line at www.cowichantheatre.bc.ca
May 11 – Bell Performing Arts Centre
Tickets at (604) 507-6355
Or On-Line at www.bellperformingartscentre.com
May 13 – REM Lee Theatre
Tickets at (250) 638-8522
May 14 – Lester Centre for Perf. Arts
Prince Rupert, BC
Tickets at (250) 627-8888
May 15 – The Act Theatre
Maple Ridge, BC
Tickets (604) 476-2787
Or On-Line at www.theactmapleridge.org
June 24 – Century Casino
June 25 – Memorial Centre
Red Deer, AB
Tickets (403) 347-0800
Or On-Line at www.ticketcentraloutlet.ca
June 26 – Centennial Centre
Tickets (780) 812-3400