Just a side note: This column is “Number 100” since I started writing these back in October 2018. We owe a debt of gratitude to then-editor Maggie Hillery and publisher Curt Jacobs for their vision and faith in our burgeoning music scene.
And it’s very fitting that column 100 be devoted to one of the up and coming new talents making their mark today. Jack Z represents the future of music here in Madison, born nine days after the Great Courthouse Fire some 11 years ago, and heir to the Ziesemer musical dynasty, son of Greg Ziesemer and Kriss Luckett (Charlie’s Beats 23 & 24, respectively.)
Jack Ziesemer (stage name Jack Z) has been popping up recently on local stages, either opening his parents’ shows, or ripping off a sizzling rendition of Jimi Hendrix’ Star Spangled Banner to kick off an event. But his amazing talents on guitar and many other instruments has been a long time coming.
“Pretty much as soon as I could pick up a guitar or climb up on a drum stool I’ve been playing,” says Jack, “probably age three or something like that. There were always lots of instruments around my house, and lots of playing and rehearsing. Mom and dad are both songwriters too, so I was exposed to that process from an early age.
“We listen to a lot of music at our house, of course, so I’ve picked up a lot of influences that shape my music today. My favorite year for music is 1967, the year of Velvet Underground, Hendrix, and Sgt. Pepper. I also look to Radiohead a lot, especially their early stuff.
“My personal style is a cross between the Black Keys, Nirvana, Radiohead and the Flaming Lips. I love the Lips!
“I’ve been writing quite a few new songs lately. I have a basic recording studio set up in my dad’s shop, and I play all the parts myself, overlaying them one by one onto my computer program. I’ll sing the vocals, play the guitars, plus drums and bass.
“I’m also getting a band together with a couple friends, called The Blue Clock Experiment. It’s kind of an amped up sound, not at all bluesy.
“As I look forward into my future, I do hope to have a career in music, but I’m just not sure what that might look like yet. I love to write and perform, but I also really like music production. If I go to college, which I hope to do, it will probably be to learn the production aspect.
“I look at songwriting as one of the true great art forms, like painting or sculpture. It’s a skill you can improve and master with lots of time and hard work. But I think music production is an art too. When you look at what George Martin did, or Todd Rundgren, the impact they had on popular music. Producing is a joy for me.
“Of course, I’d love to be successful in a music career, but I’m not so sure about becoming super famous or any of that. I’ve seen so many cases where great artists become more of a celebrity and less of a musician. It can get in the way if you don’t keep your priorities straight.
“In the near term I’m looking at taking a few of my songs to a professional recording studio. My parents have a connection with Pop Machine in Indy, and they want to record some of my stuff. And I’d love to have a really good band in the years to come, so I can play live.
“But I also know how interests can change. I’m only 11 years old, I don’t know which way my life will lead. I’m just enjoying the ride and taking it as it comes.”
HOT TIP OF THE WEEK
We have two “bring your chair” music performances this weekend. The first is on Friday at Bicentennial Park with R0Man T0ast opening for The Remedies. These are great free shows sponsored by Madison Main Street. The second is Saturday at the Lanier Mansion with Small Time Napoleon. If you haven’t seen this amazing quartet out of Louisville you are in for a real treat. They are funny, talented and super entertaining. This one is free also, sponsored by Music at the Mansion. And don’t forget all the usual venues that are bringing us great live music every week — Mad Paddle Brewery, Thomas Family Winery and The Lighthouse. They deserve our support!
Charlie Rohlfing is a retired advertising man and partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening.
This Week in Music
Thursday, Sept. 10
Mad Paddle Brewery — Tracy Thompson & Elaine Basham
Friday, Sept. 11
Lytle Park — Madison Live Lunch (11:30 a.m.)
Bicentennial Park — The Remedies & R0man T0ast (6 p.m.)
Saturday, Sept. 12
Mad Paddle Brewery — Leah Pruett & Craig Philipp
Thomas Family Winery — Two Buck Chuck
Lanier Mansion — Small Time Napoleon
Sunday, Sept. 13
Stream Cliff Farm — Gary Applegate & Joe Rock (1 p.m.)
Wednesday, Sept. 16
Elks Lodge — Leah Pruett (open to public)