Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Jul 05th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Bull’s-Eye

music_RoyZRoy Zimmerman’s satirical songwriting hits many targets
Under bleak Midwest skies, comedic singer-songwriter Roy Zimmerman pulls over by the side of the highway to talk about his place in the musical history books. For a man whose body of work encompasses duets with Laura Love and a fan base that includes Joni Mitchell and the Dead Kennedys—you would think Zimmerman would be relaxing in an air-conditioned tour bus. Instead he drives himself to all his gigs and acts as his own press agent. “I’m in Okemah, Oklahoma,” Zimmerman boasts over the phone. “The birthplace of Woody Guthrie.”
Zimmerman honed his chops at the San Jose Repertory Theatre writing  musical reviews in the 1980s skewering the yuppies that peppered the Silicon Valley (“YUP!”, “Up the YUP!” and “YUP it UP!”). The punning pundit-with-guitar blossomed during the comedy boom of that time. “I had a duo during that time with [Santa Cruz virtuoso] Stevie Coyle and we were called the Reagan Brothers,” the witty comic remembers. “We played the Comedy Store and all the clubs and learned a lot about standing and delivering.” Tom Lehrer—once a Santa Cruz native—has held the torch for decades as America’s premier satirist. In meetings between the master and the student, Zimmerman fondly recalls, “Lehrer said I was more political than he was. He said that he was often seen as political but that his forte was more social commentary with broad potshots.” Zimmerman, on the other hand, is an obvious dyed-in-the-wool Lefty. With song titles like “Guns in Space” and “One World, One Bank,” there’s no gray area on where Zimmerman stands. But, his performance will mutate depending on the mood of the crowd, so it doesn’t always have the sting of social/political commentary.
An unapologetic liberal, the more-than-novelty singer just wants to find a way to represent in a manner that makes people laugh and think and ultimately win friendships. “I play some comedy joints but mostly I play music clubs and alternative venues like Unitarian Churches, coffee shops and house concerts,” he says. “It allows me to be a lot freer to walk the fence between comedy and social commentary.” This week he hits the Kuumbwa Jazz stage on Saturday, March 13.
Two weeks each month Zimmerman hits the road and performs for America. “It’s interesting playing these parts of the country—I’m heading to Norman, Oklahoma. There’s a very strong progressive underground there, huddling in basements, and when somebody comes to town they show up in droves,” Zimmerman points out. “Sometimes in the more remote towns it’s easier to focus people’s attention on issues and populist ideas.”
With an impressive five million hits on YouTube, and performing alongside everyone from Lewis Black and Dennis Miller to George Carlin, you would think Zimmerman would be gracing the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and playing illustrious festivals—but he remains decidedly a do-it-yourselfer. “My wife and I book these tours ourselves, I have maintained relationships with all these places across the country and it’s really a Mom and Pop operation,” the veteran road performer is proud to say.
He looks too clean-cut to be a snake oil salesman and the glint in his eye reveals that preaching may not be the only thing on his mind. Roy Zimmerman may not have been officially handed the torch from the king of novelty songs but he has certainly taken the reins on reflecting America’s hypocrisy in melodic clips. And, don’t be fooled, Zimmerman warns he’s an equal opportunity offender.
“It really doesn’t matter to me who’s in office. It was easy to take shots at Bush, but to tell you the truth I’m happy not to have to do that anymore; it got tiresome. My heart is doing better with Obama.”

Roy Zimmerman performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 13, at Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $18 in advance, $22 at the door. For more information, call 479-9421 or go to snazzyproductions.com.
Comments (1)Add Comment
Run, Do Not Walk ...
written by Stevie Coyle, March 11, 2010
... to Roy's show at The Kuumbwa this weekend. Even if you've seen him before, rest assured that Roy is a tremendously prolific songwriter, and that you will be treated to some new and tremendously topical stuff.

"Apply liberally and topically."

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food