The Everly Brothers Experience at The Rogue Theatre
Fifties-themed music was always around the house when siblings Zachary and Dylan Zmed were growing up.
"Our father was an actor," Zach Zmed says. "He got his first job at age 23 in the touring production of 'Grease.' "
Later, the boys' dad, Adrian Zmed, moved to Los Angeles to work as rookie Officer Vince Romano with William Shatner in "T.J. Hooker."
"I was around 11 when our dad went back to stage musicals," Zmed says. "He was playing Danny Zuko in a revival of 'Grease.' As the audience took its seats, the fictional character Vince Fontaine would host a dance contest and play music from 1959. That's when I first heard Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and The Everly Brothers.
"It was what made me want to pick up a guitar," he says. "Over time I became interested in The Who, Pink Floyd and others, but I always returned to '50s music."
Zmed and his younger brother, Dylan, began to play as a guitar, mandolin and vocal duo in 2013, though not dedicated to performing Everly Brothers music. The boys would play original music and covers of Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, The Kinks and The Everly Brothers three or four nights a week in wine bars around the San Fernando Valley.
"The more Everly Brothers tunes we learned, the more we fell in love with them, and people loved them," Zmed says. "I looked around to see if anyone in the nation was doing a tribute show, anything to honor them. I didn't see anything being done the way I felt it should be. We took the idea seriously, and on Jan. 3, 2016, started The Everly Brothers Experience at the Gold Coast Casino in Las Vegas."
The Everly Brothers Experience — with Zach and Dylan Zmed on acoustic, steel-stringed J-180 Gibson guitars and back-up trio The Bird Dogs — will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at The Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 541-471-1316 or online at roguetheatre.com. The show is open to ages 21 and older.
Throughout the '50s, brothers Don and Phil Everly played their mix of ballads, clean ringing melodies, rockabilly and bluesy rock 'n' roll on Gibson J-200s. In 1962, Gibson produced a signature acoustic guitar called the Everly Brothers Flattop. The model was discontinued in 1972 but was reissued as the Gibson J-180 in the mid-'80s.
"We approach our show not as impersonators, but as ourselves," Zmed says. "We tell our story in parallel with The Everly Brothers story.
"We set out to capture the Everlys' visual aesthetics, so we dress in nice suits and play the right instruments," he says. "We throw in songs by Eddie Cochran and Johnny Cash, who were friends with The Everly Brothers and played songs together, and we play original music in the style of the Everlys. Their timeless sound is there.
"I think it's important for audiences to get to know us," he adds. "The first time they come to see the show, they're coming to see The Everly Brothers. If they come back, they'll be coming to see us. Any impersonation would be a disservice to how classy the Everlys were."
Zmed feels that any Everly tribute show should be done by brothers. Genetics are involved. The shapes of mouths, vocal chords and the intonations that siblings learn growing up together and speaking similarly.
"The timbre of the Everlys' voices resonates in such a way that it's greater than the sum of its parts," Zmed says. "Don was the older one and sang the lower parts. That's my role. Dylan is younger and has a higher voice. Our voices are set in such a way that singing Everly Brothers music is natural for us. All of that is the reason there's a magical sound when siblings sing together."
The Zmed's back-up band for the Grants Pass show features drummer Burleigh Drummond — son of Burleigh Drummond, a founding member and only drummer and percussionist for rock band Ambrosia, along with Eric Johnson on bass and Devon Geyer on guitar.
"A lot of the really great guitar music on the Everlys' albums was played by Chet Atkins," Zmed says. Atkins was a friend of the family and helped the Everlys get signed to Cadence Records.
The Everly Brothers were based in Nashville during the '50s and '60s. The biggest thing before The Beatles broke onto the music scene, they toured internationally and signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1960 in L.A.
Good songwriters in their own right, the brothers penned "Cathy's Clown," "So Sad to Watch Good Love Go Bad," "(Till) I Kissed You," and others, but an important part of their success can be attributed to Nashville husband-and-wife songwriting team Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.
The Bryants' "Bye Bye Love" reached No. 2 on the pop charts, No. 1 on the country and No. 5 on the R&B charts. It became The Everly Brothers' first million-seller. Working with the Bryants, the Everlys' hits included "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have to Do Is Dream," "Bird Dog" and "Devoted to You."
"It was a beautiful marriage between their voices and the Bryant's songwriting," Zmed says.
Isaac Donald "Don" Everly (born Feb. 1, 1937) and Phillip "Phil" Everly (Jan. 19, 1939 – Jan. 3, 2014) were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.