"Music," Ludwig van Beethoven said, "is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life."
Transcending dogma, creed, culture and even language, music has the power to touch the soul as well as elevate the mind. Perhaps no one understands this more than the song writer. Painting emotion on a canvas of silence is often described as an extension of the soul. While it is not religious, it is very spiritual and when there is a void, it becomes an ache in the soul.
Local artist Joe Zelek was struggling, not only in the music industry, but within, "There was something missing." He was feeling "burnt out" and was seriously contemplating taking a year off from the music business.
Local artist Joe Zelek, left, is pictured with JZB bandmate Dan Bozek. The Joe Zelek Band will be performing at the official JITH kickoff party Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. and will open the main stage on Friday at 4:15 p.m.
Searching to fill that void Zelek went in a new direction last year forming The Rust Belt Kings. Always a fan of the other "beloved influences" the new band utilized the twin harmony guitars via the Allman Brothers and harmonies from the Eagles. While fulfilling a dream for the artist it did not fill the void and the project came to and end as the band dissolved.
Then one evening while sitting on his back porch near Mt. Pleasant he had a moment of clarity. He began writing his new single at that moment penning the words, "How I miss that country music."
"I was just sitting there strumming an old '65 Gibson," Zelek said. "And the song just began flowing."
As the song describes his listening as a young man to the sounds of the WWVA Jamboree crackling through the radio on a Saturday night. "It was the classic elements of country music that were missing," Zelek revealed. "I come from a rock and roll background and still love that music, but I really dig and appreciate that classic country sound."
"Country freakin' music," he coins, "That's our mantra."
"We are kind of hitting the reboot button on the Joe Zelek Band," he explained the return of the JZB to Jamboree In The Hills finds the band refueled and refocused on the classic elements of the genre. Their latest single "That Country Music," combines pedal steel guitar and a driving "outlaw" style beat with Alabama-esque three-part harmonies highlighting both the direction of Joe's songwriting and the band's overall sound moving forward.
Featuring long time JZB members Kelly Jones on guitar, Pete Wilson on drums and Dan Bozek on bass, the band is welcoming aboard Carl Besece on mandolin and 1170's Charlie McVay on pedal steel to round out the sound.
Zelek invites everyone to come out and catch the new song as they debut it at the official JITH kickoff party Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. with David Lee Murphy.
Friday, as they open the main stage at 4:15 p.m., their set will feature classic JZB moments like Brought To You By Drinkin' alongside material from their upcoming album including 'Keeping Up With The Jones,' a tribute to the Possum himself George Jones, co-written with Bob Corbin. Our rowdy single "The Way I Be"
"We are dedicating the performance to my nephew Joey who died unexpectedly in June," said Zelek. "He was just nineteen and we are thinking of doing a t-shirt for the event."
In addition to the new album and rehearsals for the band. Joe has been churning out music from his home studio that can be heard in numerous TV shows including two full length originals on A&E's hit original series Duck Dynasty.
If you want to see the JZB you need to head out to Morristown as they have no other performances on the calender this summer. They kick off the Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration sponsored Jamboree in the Hills Pre-party at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 16.