A welcome visit from ZuhG [MUSIC PREVIEW]
It’s a fascinating accomplishment when a band from elsewhere, outside Los Angeles county, is able to secure a following here in the South Bay. I’m not talking about acts like Toots and The Maytals, Dickey Betts, or Tab Benoit, who enjoy throngs of predetermined fans flocking to their tour buses. I’m talking about everyday bands, and underground bands. Bands like Fartbarf and Temporal Love. Emerging bands on the rise, still establishing their names in nether regions, short of being preceded by lavish international press and sales. ZuhG is one of those bands.
Hailing from Sacramento, ZuhG has been paying consistent visits to the South Bay over the past few years, bringing a sliver of their Sac-town popularity with them. But why are they so well-received?
“I think we fit in,” says Bryan Nichols of ZuhG. “We’ve met some good people from the South Bay and they keep helping us spread the ZuhG love. We’ve also had a lot of support from local clothing company Hippy Tree. ZuhG and the South Bay are like peanut butter and jelly.”
Katie Henley, marketing manager and assistant talent buyer at Saint Rocke, attributes their roving popularity to identifying with their fans.
“They play a lot of house parties and colleges in addition to clubs… Bryan [Nichols] always kept the band touring and they connect with their fans by actually hanging out with them,” she says. “Any artist can smile and take a picture or sign an autograph… But when you host a van of hippies and share takeout at 4 a.m., you form a bond – you’ll rock their CD. They genuinely enjoy music, people, and fun. They’re easy to love!”
Hippies? 4 a.m. takeout? Something smells skunky… Yep, that’s right, ZuhG’s sound is set in the reggae vein; but it can’t be categorized so simply. They blend not only Reggae, but Jazz, Funk, and a detectably light dose of Progressive Rock.
“We just make music that comes naturally,” says Nichols. “We don’t try to force out certain types of songs to uphold a genre. Whatever happens happens, you never know what you’re going to get. There’s a good mixture of musical influence in ZuhG.”
With Nichols on vocals, guitar, and bass, the rest of ZuhG’s current lineup is JR Halliday (guitar, bass, vocals), Jesi Naomi (vocals, piano), Bot (saxophone), and Russel Lundgren (drums).
Nichols continues on their eclectic influence and output. “Bot on saxophone loves Jazz… We all like Classic Rock and Jam-Funk bands (like The Doors and Galactic)… We enjoy some Hip Hop, Reggae, Rock n’ Roll… We might break out into a Disco jam… a little bit of everything. ZuhG means to be unlike others, and to do something different… Be ZuhG, live a ZuhG life. We made it up!”
Generally speaking, they’re a band whose range can place them in both reggae and jam band festivals alike, possibly even funk fests. They appeal to the nation’s vast neo-hippie music festival demographic, while easily connecting with the high-energy meets chill-groove vibe lovers of the South Bay as well.
As usual, ZuhG has been touring and recording like crazy. They’ll be stopping here in the South Bay while on a two month tour, after just releasing freshly this year a side project centered around their female vocalist/pianist Jesi Naomi, titled Jesi Naomi & The Trippers, and a (ZuhG) full-length titled “Free Love” last summer. On March 1, they set out on their “For The Love Of Music Tour” for another two months across the country. Buried beneath all their tracks are another 3 albums, dating back to their 2008 DIY record label debut release on Sunflower Records called “To Be Unlike Others.” They even opened their own ZuhG Life music, art, and clothing store back in Sacramento. Along the way, they’ve scooped up loads of press and awards while living the ZuhG life; and lots of friends.
“It’s all about having fun and doing what you love because you love it,” says Nichols. “Not for money… For the love of music.”
ZuhG plays Saint Rocke on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 8 P.M. with Pratley, and Whipoorwhill. Everyone who says they came to see ZuhG at the door gets a free CD. You can listen to several of ZuhG’s albums on DirtyHippieRadio.com.