We kick things off with a Buddy Holly birthday show at my favorite venue in Kansas City: Knuckleheads Saloon and November 4th where the ever-talent Jeff Bergen will open the show with his tribute to Elvis.
A few days later, I’m flying to Vancouver for a show I’m really excited about at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on November 9th:
Here, I’ll performing many album cuts including songs by Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Hank Williams as well as debuting some original material.
My last show in November is on the 18th in Port Dover where Paquette Productions is producing a two act Buddy Holly Tribute show backed by the fabulous Rockin’ Royals Band.
I’m on the road with the Human Statues touring schools in Northern BC. Go to the Human Statues website or Facebook page for frequent updates. It’s been exhausting but equally rewarding playing for kindergarten students through to grade twelves; reaching territory as north as Fort St. John and as far west as Haida Gwaii; even making it to the harbour town of Hartley Bay only accessible by boat.
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.
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.”
It’s no April fool’s joke, The Human Statues have finally released a new single called “Vinyl Heart”. It’s the sentiment of an analogue man in a digital world, grappling with the tough decision to depart with a dearly held record collection.