Local Music Makers
“Give a warm welcome to, ‘bass player to the stars,
Mr. Zack Page’….”
…..That’s how I introduce Zack whenever he plays with me. He is hands down, no bout a-doubt it, the most sought-after musician in town.
The reasons area band leaders solicit his services is because
A) He’s an INCREDIBLY versatile player with aptitude and feel oozing out of his pores.
B) He does his homework.
C) He stays ready to for whatever you throw at him.
C) He’s an exceptional chart reader.
D) He gets along with everyone.
I wish I could remember the first gig or show I shared the stage with Zack. But I can tell you that each and every time I get a chance to hire him, it’s a better show for having him.
Born in Virginia, raised in rural Ohio and New Jersey (which he clarifies was not the stereotypical New Jersey), his father’s diligence in navigating his best options for employment resulted in the family moving a few times during his early years.
I was unprepared, caught off guard when Zack revealed that his mother Sarah had no idea she was pregnant with twins until the day he was born. First his identical twin brother Andy came out; then; wait! Hold the phone calls to the relatives Dad, there’s another baby in there!
From the womb to college dorm room, Andy and Zack were practically inseparable.
“There was always a lot of music in our house. My dad, Pete is not a musician, but he’s a huge music history and music fan, he’s especially into the Blues. My mom is a descendant from a long lineage of a traditional, deeply rooted old time music family called the McGhees from Mount Pilot, NC.
"Growing up she was an avid church goer and was in the choir. The name of the street we lived on was ‘Rock Rd’ so my destiny was paved, as it were. There were a bunch of kids living on that street and in that neighborhood. A lot of my older brother Sam’s friends started getting into playing guitars at the same time.
"I was amazed how good some of them were for sixth graders. Andy and I were hooked and wanted to join the jams. All the kids on our street listened to 70s and 80s hard rock and metal. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Black Sabbath. So it was the first music, other than what my parents played in the house that we listened to and were interested in.
"I guess I just liked the ferocity of it and the conviction in which the players played and portrayed themselves. Though my interest in the genre is mostly nostalgic nowadays, metal players are the only ones, to me, that are doing something new and exciting with the genre.”
He and his brothers did really well in school so the natural next step was college. Though Zack “begrudgingly” agreed to go, in the end he was happy with his choice to major in Music at UNC Wilmington, graduating summa cum laude.
“In Wilmington there were a lot of opportunities too, for underage musicians to gig at bars and restaurants.”
I was curious to know the reasons he chose bass (both string and electric). Zack explains: “One of my dad’s favorite bands is Booker T. & the M.G. ‘s and his all-time favorite bass player is Duck Dunn. I always remember him telling me that ‘every good band needs a good bass man.’ So for our 12th Christmas, he gave me a bass and Andy a guitar.” I’d say ole Pete got it right!
Zack’s endearment toward his immediate family is evident throughout our conversation. His father’s love of music and influence is woven throughout the interview. The admiration he feels toward his dad’s passion for music is palpable.
“The list of concerts he’s been to is a mile long. He hung out with Ray Charles and Willie Nelson back in the day and has tons of cool stories about nearly every show.”
As a side note for our readers who are 50+ and ‘living,’ Zack’s mom and dad joined a platform called “Storyworth.” “Storyworth is the easiest way to record family stories and print them in beautiful hardcover books. Every week, Storyworth asks your loved one a question about their life.
They reply with a story via email or the website, and at the end of a year, all of their stories are printed into a book.” Zack’s parents have shared with the family some of their weekly entries as a way to preserve their lives’ most poignant, precious and pivotal moments.
We delve into the mechanics and the passion that’s needed to reach proficiency on an instrument. Obviously practicing is a huge component, but for Page, it was the influence and the admiration he had for his 4 minutes older twin, Andy, that kept him inspired and motivated.
And he attributes the rest of it to the public schools in New Jersey. “These school districts are well funded so the music programs are really supported. Andy and I were in the marching band, and we had our choice to take any number of other electives like orchestra, Jazz band, chamber orchestra and we even had a TV station.”
A detour by way of Los Angeles found him playing with popular touring and local jazz bands in the 1990’s. “It was really, really good musically for me. It was the first time in my life I was able to practice 6 hours a day. I was thrown into the fire, into the proverbial sink or swim situations so I learned voicings and patterns and intonations for jazz oriented music fairly quickly.
"As socially and racially screwed up as Los Angeles was at the time, the music scene was super integrated. I was the only white member of a big band orchestra and spent many nights having dinner with my band mate’s family and it opened me up to many new concepts and beliefs.”
After his stint in California, he moved to Boone/Blowing Rock, NC where Andy and his parents had moved. He met and played with dozens of musicians that would also later relocate to Asheville.
It’s around this time, 1997 that he meets the love of his life, Andrea. “I couldn’t do what I’m doing if it wasn’t for Andrea. Her willingness to maintain a solid career path is something I don’t and will never take for granted.”
The unpredictable nature of life and money can make being married to a professional, full time musician challenging. It’s not lost on Mr. Page how fortunate he is to have Andrea. In prayer-like solemnity, we both feel how fortunate all of us married musicians are, for having the support of our spouses and the stability that their mainstream jobs and careers afford us.
In every corner of the local music scene, you won’t hear a bad word being said about Zack Page. He is goofy, irreverent at times, empathetic and available. The 3 things people say about him, sometimes even before they rave about his abilities as a musician, is that he’s a devoted, loving husband and father to two girls, Caroline and Josie.
The lessons Zack is still learning through music and the experiences he has playing with a plethora of groups, personalities and genres has set him up to be the quintessential sideman that he is today.
His December schedule so you can hear him live:
Dec. 7 Hard Bop Explosion, GiGi’s Underground, 7pm
Dec. 16 Alien Music Club: JP and Friends,
Isis Music Hall, 7pm
Dec. 23 A Jazz Piano Christmas with the Bill Bares Trio,
Isis Music Hall, 8:30pm
Dec. 26 The Core, Little Jumbo, 7pm