Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Apr 27th
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

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise