Zakary Miller’s Canadiana Swing
By Kim Barlow
On any given night in the Valley, if you feel like going out to hear some live music, there’s a good chance you’ll come across this guy. He has only been living in NS for three years but has become well-entrenched in the music scene, and heartily embraced by local music fans. His charming and often comic “Canadiana swing” songs, embellished by yodels and kazoo, can be caught at farmers market stages and a rotation of the local watering holes. Lately he’s been found as far away as Bearley’s and the New Scotland Brewing Co. in Halifax, and over to Annapolis Royal and Lawrencetown.
Zakary grew up in Christie Pitts, Toronto, to working-class cowpunk parents with roots in the Maritimes. He went to an arts high school, then to a sound engineering college in England, then began farming in rural Ontario. He’s been making music and farming for the past eight years of his young life. The Annapolis Valley is a good place for him to follow his dreams, then. He and his fiance, Franny, bought a house near Kentville and are getting set up on their small acreage, er, big lot.
Miller’s sound draws from old-time, country, jug band and swing influences. He is a vinyl hound, and very knowledgeable in the history of the music he emulates. In high school he played trumpet and upright bass, and his dad got him listening to the jazz of Thelonius, Coltrane and Lester Young. When he started writing his own songs, they came out swingin’. There’s a bit of a Stompin’ Tom Connors sound to his singing. He came across the yodelling of Rex Griffin and began to try whilst feeding chickens, and found it suited his vocal range. The chickens liked it, too. When he can afford a band, he has horns, clarinet, and/or fiddle along with bass, drums and guitar. When he’s doing smaller shows, he fills the void with a selection of kazoos, also a popular instrument of the era he harkens to.
Keep an ear out for Miller in the months to come. He’s got shows at the Rolled Oat, Night Kitchen, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Annapolis Brewing Co., and Deep Hollow Print (see below). He’s also making new records: A softer one to feature his songwriting, which is smart and well-crafted; worth paying attention to; and another with all those fun distractions including a horn section and lots of kazoo. A recent exciting development is an invitation to play a swing dance set at the Kempt Shore Acoustic Maritime Music Festival in July. Zakary is working hard all the time bringing great sounds to new fans when he’s not slinging cider and growing pumpkins. The future looks bright for this new old-timer in the Maritimes.
Zakary will be playing an album fundraiser show Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 7pm at Deep Hollow Print, 4541 Highway 12, Kentville.