A Decibel Disparate Exposing the community to local artists: musicians, writers, designers, performers, thinkers, who are doing things outside of the “Annapolitan box.” You will find no sailboats or Blue Angels here. This is a place for raw and unique talent. Let us look at our city with a “view askew.” Diversity is life.
“I’m singing to the town, and she’s listening and you can feel her appreciation. I feel the bricks sparkle while I walk them after street performing. It is purifying to the town. It might just be me, but magical things happen.”
Magic enwrapped me when I found Zack Broach. One night in the summer of 2009, I wandered down by the Alex Haley statue by the water in Downtown Annapolis. I was lost in a state of contemplation and heard some distant singing, but let it remain in the background to my own thoughts. Then I was attacked by the music. Ripped out of my own thoughts, the most beautiful version of Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright washed over me. Tears sprung to my eyes as the falsetto voiced Zack Broach sang to fill the air with beauty and touched my heart. As drunken people stumbled past, blind to his effect on the world that surrounded them, I sat and listened until he packed up his guitar and left. No longer lost inside myself, I was lost in a twist of exquisitely untainted music. Purifying. Cathartic. “Beauty in the moonlight overthrew you…and from your lips (he) drew the Hallelujah.” Hallelujah.
Zack sits catty-corner to me, his hands are clasped palms together over his mouth. His brown eyes search the air for the answer I asked. Why he sang. Why he created music.
“When I first started falling in love, I needed a way to express it. Music is the greatest form of therapy. My music has expanded past relationships now to more spiritual and archetypal matters, but love started it.” He paused, he paused for long periods of time throughout the interview. I was not sure if he was waiting for me out of consideration to finish writing, or if he was in a deep thought that required a long silence.
“When I first left college I had two major goals: to be a successful street musician and have a free mobile shelter. Two summers ago I finally got my bearings in Annapolis as a performer and financed the boat I live on. There are a lot of studies on the way water reacts to music. I find there is a special resonance for metaphysical, vibrational phenomenon in Annapolis.”
“There is something oddly exotic and intimate about street performing that I have not found anywhere else. I love performing and turning common places into a stage. Times I have to stand against the noise of traffic and the parades of deaf tourists, but at those times is when I refine my skills the best…Oh, and playing outside on my own terms is also a major bonus to busking.”
Zack interlaces his fingers and rests his chin lightly on them, not looking at me but into the abyss of his memory that played out on the wall in front of him.
“Some people look like they have stumbled into a circus tent and stare dumbfounded until they pass out the other side. Some people look as if they are gritting their teeth. Some will yank their children’s hands to keep them moving and some will turn their heads away. But others light up and smile. I see them trail off and know that magic is lingering in them. Certain people are grateful and they truly show it. I have seen some cry.”
“The sincerity that is reflected back to me is always startling.”
“I’m doing what I do, and it sometimes strikes a string in their heart that changes their entire being. I’ve had the same happen to me. It’s a marvelous service to be capable of providing.”
“Two special events that touched me about the love people can show happened that first summer. The first day I performed Downtown by the water, I was absolutely broke and had no money to eat and I was going to be kicked out of the place I was staying. I had two pig-nosed amps that had the minimal quality to convey music. When I got five dollars I was happy I was going to be able to eat. There was this woman who had been listening for about a half an hour, and when she went to leave she came up to me and held her hand over my guitar case. She looked me in the eyes and told me I sounded great and to get better amps. She dropped a hundred dollars in my case. The last night I played that summer I was in front of Kilwin’s and a couple who were adorably buzzed asked me to play All You Need Is Love by The Beatles. I proceeded to play a slow dance version, and they danced in front of me hand in hand, to and fro. It was one of the most magical moments in my life, and I think/hope in their’s too. The man with a twinkle in his eye placed money in my hand and said, ‘Thank you.’”
Though I had had no money the night Zack broke me out of myself by his wonderful singing, I can show my appreciation and the magic I felt by sharing him with the world. Soon we will all be able to take his wonder home with us and listen to it whenever we need to. His Native American flute CD, Trill Trance, will be coming out within two weeks and his guitar and vocal CD, Rainbows and Lullabies, within two months.
“John Wenger showed me the ropes at the studio and turned me loose. With his occasional assistance, I single handedly produced the entire CD myself. I listened to a lot of different flute music from traditional European to Middle Eastern and even some Aboriginal didgeridoo. I integrated all of those elements into a unique, universal entrancing sound. It is at once primal and celestial.”
“I started playing the flute five years ago. It chose me. It is a daily meditative practice. I literally spent hours of lost time skipping around the woods possessed by some spirit. The flute has a strangely beautiful effect on animals, and the animal in all of us as well. With the flute, at times, I felt I embodied the Kokopelli myths of the flutist. I charm lizards, birds and squirrels. The birds taught me a lot about their sense of melody and communication. I feel the lizards revealed a particular pattern that quiets the thoughts and deepens awareness.”
Zack pauses and his eyes scrutinize the wall more intensely.
“The guitar and vocal CD…I always write of the truth in my heart. I sing of unconditional love and the tribulations that face us. At times it is pretty and joyful, but never lacking an authentic strain of passion. At times it is dark, mysterious and keening, but never lacking wisdom or hope.”
He will be passing out his CDs on the streets of Downtown Annapolis, when they are completed. They will be a treasure. And they will be on the street.
Zack breaks out of his mind and makes eye contact with me. He smiles knowing he had said all he could. He had said it all.
“No matter where music takes me, I will come back to this (street performing)…and I will do it for free.”
Zack Broach, his music, is a flower growing out of the cement.