Berkshire Postcard: The Corey Zink Band22 March 2013
Winter may be the season for woodshedding those fiddle tunes, but if you stay huddled by the stove too long, you’ll go stir crazy. Up in the Berkshire Mountains, the local bluegrass community understands this, so for years now, they’ve turned out in force in the depths of winter for an indoor picnic featuring several New England bands. This year’s event took place within the cozy confines of the VFW Post in Dalton, Massachusetts. It was dubbed The Corey Zink Band Concert Series in recognition of the guiding role Berkshire native Zink plays as both performer and impresario. Here’s a video that we hope captures the flavor of the show and the character of Zink’s band:
Stepping through the threshold at the Dalton VFW Post is a little disorienting. From the basement bar to the portraits of past leaders on the walls, the setting seems largely untouched by the past half century. Then you look over at the stage, and there’s Corey Zink, sporting a crisp suit and a crew cut and singing a country song that was last climbing the charts when JFK was president. It’s a “Back to the Future” experience, no supercharged DeLorean needed.
The tune Zink and the band are playing is “Another Day, Another Dollar,” by Wynn Stewart. Along with the likes of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Stewart was an architect of the Bakersfield Sound, a hard-driving, honky tonk-flavored style of country music that flourished in the 1960’s. Adapting that sound to bluegrass is nothing new— folks like J.D. Crowe were doing it back when the original recordings were hot off the presses— but traditionalists like Zink are cementing the connection between that bygone era and the bluegrass canon.
The Corey Zink Band (Zink on guitar, Larry Neu on banjo, John Roc on mandolin and Ray Evans on bass) is still a relatively young unit, but because several of its members played together previously in the group Acoustic Blue, they have a comfortable rapport both with each other, the audience and their material. Mandolin player John Roc is the most recent addition, having just joined the band last fall, but his decades of experience show in the ease with which he fits into the band’s arrangements.
We’ve got more souvenirs from our frosty and rustic road trip coming up, so set yer GPS for this site and circle back often.
P.S.— Truth in advertising: “Another Day, Another Dollar” is a vintage number, but it has come back on the radar in popular culture in recent years thanks to Volkswagen featuring it in a Jetta commercial a few years back. So perhaps rather than taking us back in time, Zink & Co. are actually engaged in some postmodern neo-retro hipsterism? No chance— these guys’ old school approach isn’t a passing fancy; it’s a way of life.