As a huge music fan, one of the things I think is the most fun is being able to see an act early in their career before they really hit it big. I remember the episode of American Idol when Carrie Underwood first auditioned as just another sweet country girl who liked to sing. Now she is a multi-platinum, award winning country artist. I have recently had the same feelings of growing success with Abilene country singer Zach Harmon.
Harmon has been playing his guitar and singing songs around Abilene since he was 14. At first it was just playing classic rock and oldies but in the past couple years he has embraced the rising Texas Country genre. I first saw him perform as one of the opening acts for Cross Canadian Ragweed at the Taylor County Expo Center. I did not know who he was at the time, but I told my friend I thought he would do well because he has what is known as the “total package.” He played great guitar, had great songs and he definitely had the look of a star.
Don’t call me a genius yet, but his career has just flourished since that show. In 2007, he was named the Entertainer of the Year by the Abilene Reporter; an award for local artists. Last year, his song “Those Stars Still Shine” was the 2nd most played Texas Country song on KBCY radio. It helps that he mentions the hometown of Abilene in the song but it is really impressive when you consider all the big hit songs from Cross Canadian Ragweed, Randy Rogers and Casey Donahew last year. This song was also the background song for KTAB TV’s Christmas food drive. This has only helped him expand his fan base in the Big Country.
Just last month, Zach released his debut CD with “Road To Nowhere.” It’s a fun batch of songs that show great diversity with pop-country, two steppin’ and old west vibes. Half of the titles are self written and the others from local songwriters. I have always been amazed by how songwriters meld music and words to make a song, so I asked him recently what his song writing process is. He told me that most of his song ideas just come to him out of the blue. He will either have words and get a melody to go with it or even the opposite way; just humming a song, like it and make a song out of it. Sounds like a very simple process, but I know with the quality of his songs, it still takes time to refine it. My two favorite songs on the CD that he wrote himself are the title track and the emotional ballad, “Tears of an Angel.” When I heard him play “Angel” at his recent CD release concert, I thought it was a cover song because it was so good. I guess that illustrates how impressive a songwriter he is.
The rest of the songs on the CD are from other songwriters. For an artist that is pretty good and has a following, songwriters just start showing up with songs. Guess you can say it’s similar to the old stories of actors and directors getting beseeched by desperate screenwriters. Zach, however, found the good songwriters which helped with the success of “Stars Still Shine” and the other titles he used on the CD.
To complete the “total package” theory I brought up earlier, a musician really needs to know how to bring his music out to his audience. After seeing Zach perform three times at three different types of venues, you can see that his main concern when performing is his fans. It seems to be a mutual feeling at his shows; he loves the support of the fans and his fans love to hear him sing. It easy to understand his stage comfort level when he told me he has always enjoyed performing and he can’t imagine not entertaining on stage. At his recent show at the Lucky Mule in Abilene, he did an excellent job of mixing his new songs with the cover songs that his fans like to hear him play. When the dance floor seemed too empty, he knew to get a good two steppin’ song playing. And finally to keep his long time fans happy, he closed his performance with an imaginative version of the Prince song “Purple Rain.”
If I have stirred you up enough and want to hear his music, you can find samples on his myspace or at zachharmon.com. The CD, Road to Nowhere, can be purchased at cdbaby.com, ITunes, digstation.com or at the Hastings in Abilene. I would like to try and find a place he can perform in Sweetwater, but until then you can catch him soon at the Belle Opry in Snyder and the Railhead Icehouse in Colorado City. If I am actually correct in my talent assessment, you too can say you saw Zach Harmon before he became a really big star.
Source: Sweetwater Reporter News, By Michael Coleman, March 14, 2010 http://www.sweetwaterreporter.com/content/view/193486/106/