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 that any bluesman or honkey-tonker (both titles apply 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.
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.