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“…if your measure of perfection is how well you re-interpret and reinvigorate the classic styles of country music from its bygone Golden era, then Zephaniah OHora’s second record—similar to his first one—scores a 10.0.” – Saving Country Music
“People Think You Have To Be From Texas Or Nashville To Play This Music,” Says Zephaniah OHora, “But That’s Not The Way I See It. Country’s All About Being True To Yourself And Telling Honest, Authentic Stories. You Can Do That Anywhere.”
Written and recorded in his adopted hometown of Brooklyn, NY, OHora’s outstanding new album, ‘Listening To The Music,’ is proof of that. Produced by Neal Casal, the collection fuses timeless twang with modern sensibilities, tipping its cap to the likes of Merle Haggard and Gram Parsons as it explores a distinctly urban, 21st century landscape through a classic country lens. OHora is a master craftsman backed by a virtuosic band here, and his songs absolutely crackle with electricity, moving beyond throwback revivalism to break fresh artistic ground with dazzling fretwork and dizzying pedal steel. The result is a record all about the power of music to bind us to our past and reinvent our future, a lush, intoxicating celebration of melody and memory that bridges the considerable miles between Bakersfield and Brooklyn.
“It was actually New York that first introduced me to country music,” says OHora, whose rich baritone voice belies his New England roots. “When I moved here, I wasn’t actually playing all that much, but I was really into collecting old records. The more of those classic country albums I discovered around the city, the more I studied and absorbed the structure and the spirit of the music.”
Born in New Hampshire to a deeply religious family, OHora first became enamored with music as a youngster in church, which inspired him to pick up the guitar and begin leading his congregation’s worship group on Sundays. By his early 20’s, OHora was living in New York, and though he wasn’t pursuing music professionally, his burgeoning love for classic country led to a regular gig performing and DJing at a small bar in Williamsburg. Soon he was booking the club, and when the owners opened another nearby location, things took a turn for the serious. The new bar, Skinny Dennis, quickly became the epicenter of the revitalized country scene in New York, hosting live shows seven nights a week, and OHora found himself smack dab in the middle of it, living and breathing the music as he booked and performed with some of the finest instrumentalist the city had to offer.
“I never planned to make a career out of it,” says OHora, “but playing all those Ray Price and Red Simpson and Merle Haggard covers just naturally led me to writing my own material, and that naturally led me to making my first record.”