Zach Strout
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Zach Strout

Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"The Musical Journey of Zach Strout"

CCM Worship Arts major Zach Strout is gearing up to release his debut album Luggage Rack on March 9th. One thing’s for sure, he has a passion for folk music—but his ambitions haven’t always been such. “When I was younger I wanted to be in a screamo band,” recalls Strout. Over time though, his tastes have developed, almost exclusively, into favoring the metaphorical language of folk music.

“I was initially drawn to folk music through Bebo Norman’s album Ten Thousand Days,” says Strout, who admires the beauty of folk lyrics, melody, and composition. “But it’s the picking patterns that really drew me in. I would sit for hours replaying music just to learn the patterns.”

As Strout matures, his pursuit of conveying honesty in his songwriting is something he continually refines. Tipping his hat to the music of Jon Foreman, Derek Webb, and Tyler Burkum, Strout seeks to adapt a similar conversational, down-to-earth approach he admires in these artists. “What I see is honesty, they have a certain rawness in their approach to explaining their emotions. And while I’m not sure if people feel this way when they listen to me, my hope is that they feel like I’m talking to them.”

Strout’s journey of performing folk music began his freshman year, fall of 2008. Having just arrived at Greenville, Strout quickly teamed with like-minded individuals, forming a folk outfit known as Ellery Grange. “I had only played one or two shows before coming to Greenville,” recalls Strout. Over the time spent with Ellery Grange, he became comfortable playing in front of an audience and collaborating with friends. However, with two members having left Greenville, Strout decided that instead of looking for new band members, he would pursue his music as a solo artist.

Playing a handful campus shows, and open mics, Strout quickly exhibited a new repertoire of songs. “Breathe and 61 were some of the first songs I wrote back in 2007,” says Strout, who over the past few years has been building a collection of original material. “One of the songs I play [Mary Lou] was written with Ellery Grange, but most others are fairly new.”

Currently, his pursuit as a solo musician has taken several unexpected turns. Most unexpected was his partnership with Blackroom Records, which all began when Strout’s friend enrolled to take a new course, aptly titled Blackroom Records. The basic idea behind the course is to operate as a record label—signing an artist, recording, producing, promoting, and marketing. In order for the class to function properly, they needed a musician. Thus, due in part to Strout’s friend, his name was suggested as a possible candidate for this role.

Some time later, Strout ran into one of the coordinators for the course, who mentioned in passing that they would like to hear a demo of his music. Strout jokes of how he just happened to be carrying one with him at that instant. Forgetting he had given the demo away, he was surprised a few weeks later when class instructor David Shreiber contacted him, wishing to hear additional songs. Knowing the decision lie between him and two other artists, Strout was told to expect a call informing him of the group’s final outcome.

Strout describes his evening of unveiling while he was at work. “I’m not supposed to answer my phone while I’m working, but I was really anxious to hear their decision,” recalls Strout. It turns out that faculty member David Shreiber incidentally stopped by Strout’s workplace that night. Spotting him from across the store, he excitedly shouted to him, “Hey, did you get the message? You made it.”

Form there, Strout describes the rest of the process as a bit hectic. “Plans were quickly made to record the album during the fall and have everything completed by Thanksgiving weekend— but it took a lot longer than it should have,” says Strout, who was initially a bit hesitant towards the final product.

Eventually, Thanksgiving weekend came and the record was far from completion. “[One of the hard things was that] while recording I would only get to hear pieces of the songs, and none of it was mixed yet,” describes Strout. Hearing the raw sound of the recording process, contrasted with his hopes of producing an album that would fit comfortably in his folk catalogue, Strout was a bit disheartened.

But then it all came together. Peter Lokey, who recorded and mixed the album, finished the tracks, and right when the fall semester came to a close, Strout’s album was complete.

“I was given the tracks right when I got home for Christmas break,” recalls Strout. “I sat down in my room and just listened to the tracks… and was really pumped. Peter was amazing to work with and he did a great job finishing up the album.”

Partnering with many other student-musicians, Strout considers himself fortunate to have such a supportive community of people who worked together to complete his album. In addition to Strout, who writes all the music, sings, and plays guitar, a wide range of other instruments were utilized to present a fuller folk sound. Piano, drums, viola, and stand-up bass are featured on several tracks, played by Sarah Maitlen, Evan Sieling, Blakeley Woessner, and Nichole Graham respectively. Also playing on a few tracks are Blake Holderread with lap-steel guitar, Lucas Harger with banjo and guitar, Jay Wilde with trumpet, and myself with mandolin.

All in all, Luggage Rack contains 11 tracks with a final instrumental reprise. “The last one was all Blakeley’s improvised composition,” says Strout, who thinks it is a fitting way to close out the album. “And I think it might also be my favorite song.”

With the first shipment of CD’s just arriving, Strout is anxious to share his music with the Greenville community. Strout and Co. is preparing to offer a full band performance for the release show on March 9th in the Blackroom With the anticipation of more shows in the future—possibly even a small summer tour—Strout is fully embracing whatever direction Luggage Rack takes him.

Join the Greenville community on March 9th in welcoming the official debut of Zach Strout’s album Luggage Rack.

by Joshua Witchger - The Greenville Papyrus

"Real Artists, Real Dreams: GC Students Make Their Music Happen"

Roll out the red carpet and get ready to rock, Zach Strout is in the building. The Greenville College sophomore will release his first full length album Tuesday, March 9th, after several months of hard work. The release follows a launch party at the Blackroom Café on the Greenville College campus, where Strout will perform a live concert at 9:30p.m.

With music that blends Folk and Indie styles, Strout strives "to marry a fraction of what is inside Zach Strout[his] heart and head with song and melody." His new album, Luggage Rack, will feature a variety of musicians, with instruments such as acoustic guitar, banjo, cello, harmonica and the piano. This debut album will feature 10 songs, which Strout hopes will resonate with the hearts of his fans. Strout claims the influence of artists such as Bebo Norman, John Foreman and Derek Webb; "anyone that is lyrically raw and amazingly creative." This group is vast, but "of the myriad of artists that have influenced [his] writing and playing styles, the few that really grab [him] are the ones who seem to blend their emotions and beliefs into the very music that makes its way to our ears." Although Strout has no ambitions of fame, he hopes to mirror this passion in his work. His initial love of music, however, was inspired by a less renowned, but equally important artist.

Strout, who hails from the town of East Waterboro, Maine, got his start in music at the young age of 10 singing specials with his mom in church. He then went on to land a lead role in his school's musical rendition of the "Nifty 1900's" during his 5th grade year. Strout didn't pick up a guitar until his sophomore year in high school, but has been writing and playing nonstop ever since. During his first semester of college, Strout became a founding member of a band known as Ellery Grange. After performing various local shows, as well as completing a mildly successful two week tour of New York, Michigan and Illinois, the band amicably dissolved. However, this experience proved to be a valuable stepping-stone in the artist's individual career.

Strout is represented by Blackroom Records, a professional student-run recording company on the Greenville College campus. Founded in 2001, Blackroom Records seeks to provide exposure for songwriters, artists and musicians by giving them the opportunity to have their music recorded, distributed and marketed. The label is devoted to producing quality music, and as such seeks to develop its artists from the roots up. - Greenville College News


Luggage Rack - 2010



Zach Strout is a new and unique folk singer/songwriter who is ready to make a difference in the musical realm. With an earthy feel combined with his relaxed, uplifting songs, Zach has already grabbed the attention of many music lovers through worship solos and duets wherever he performs. There is so much more to look forward to from this artist throughout the rest of his career.

Strout got his musical start at the age of ten, when he would sing specials with his mom in church. In fifth grade, he landed a lead role in his school’s musical rendition of the “Nifty 1900’s.” In the tenth grade, Zach picked up the guitar for the first time and, within a year, he was playing like he’d been picking for years.

In his first semester of college, Zach and a few others formed a band by the name of Ellery Grange. Aside from local shows, the band went on a two week tour of New York, Michigan, and Illinois receiving great feedback for such an impromptu beginning. Ellery Grange was a good start and proved to be a valuable stepping-stone in the songwriter’s individual career. “The tour helped me meet lots of people and was definitely a good learning experience.”

Zach has placed in the Singer/Songwriter Competition at Greenville College and just recently signed with Blackroom Records, a professionally student run record label. His upcoming full-length album will feature a variety of musicians with instruments such as acoustic guitar, banjo, cello, harmonica, and the piano. Aside from scriptural text, his musical influence comes from artists such as Bebo Norman, Jon Foreman, and Derek Webb. Zach hopes to reach many people with his first album, “I want people to be able to connect to the song and its message either emotionally, past experiences, or just through their hopes and dreams.” To Zach, every song has a story.