If you're a follower of the midwestern indie music world (or of American roots music generally) you might be forgiven for thinking David Zollo has been around forever. The truth is, it just seems that way. Since bursting on the scene as a baby-faced 21-year-old with Iowa City's white-hot, road-chewing, pub-rockers, High and Lonesome, in 1992, Zollo has done just about everything you can do in the rock and roll business.
Whether as a singer..songwriter..keyboardist with his own bands; as a sideman for an incredible array of roots music talent (Todd Snider, William Elliot Whitmore, Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, The Pines); as founder..owner..operator of legendary underground label, Trailer Records; or producer to up-and comers (The Pines, Brother Trucker), Zollo always maintained a ridiculously frenetic schedule, logging thousands of miles and 200+ gigs a year, doing all of these things at an incredibly high level.
He has paid dues any bluesman or honkey-tonker(both titles can be applied to Zollo) would envy. High and Lonesome's meteoric rise was halted in late-1994 by the discovery of pre-cancerous tumors in his vocal cords; reconstructive surgery followed.
While waiting impatiently for his singing voice to recover, Zollo started and established Trailer Records, then joined the band of critically-acclaimed country-folk rocker Todd Snider in 1996, moving to Nashville. After Snider downsized his band in 1997, Zollo followed his heart back to the midwest and his hometown of Iowa City.
There he rejoined mentors Bo Ramsey and Greg Brown, further growing Trailer Records and creating an atmosphere of music-as-family, that saw the entire label roster playing on stage together; on record; and, judging by the sounds of things, in each other's living rooms.
It was around this time that demand started growing for Zollo's services as a producer. Throughout it all, Zollo continued to write music that consistently won critical and popular support for its power, honesty, and intelligence. By 2002 he had produced six records of his own material; 'Alackaday(1992)'; 'livefromgabes(1994)'; and 'For Sale or Rent' with High and Lonesome, and 'The Morning is a Long Way From Home(1995); 'Uneasy Street(1999)'; and 'The Big Night(2002,)' under his own name. In 2007 Zollo was caught in a drug-sting operation, attempting to purchase a controlled substance from undercover police officers.
He entered drug treatment for addictions to cocaine and heroin and came out with the songs that will populate his forthcoming recording, 'For Hire.' Considered by many long-time fans to be his strongest material to date, Zollo explores his years as an addict; very public fall from grace; the birth of his only child, a son named Rocco; and painful divorce, with his usual honesty, erudition and a wry, dark, humor. Of the many things that David Zollo does and does well, it is on stage that he seems most comfortable and happy.
Long known as an exuberant, passionate performer, it is clear that at present, Zollo is relishing the opportunity to do what he does best: make music. If you haven't had the pleasure, try to catch him while you can; solo, or with his band The Body Electric. Either way, you'll get a chance to experience the timeless power of a voice that seems to have been with us forever.
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