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Jan 22, 2010

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Zellar Returns To Americana Showcase

Zellar Returns To Americana Showcase

The first Americana Showcase concert of 2010 will feature Brandon Sampson on stage with two of his heroes.

Sampson, who organizes the showcase series, has enlisted Martin Zellar and G.B. Leighton to join him for a Songwriters in the Round performance Tuesday at Rochester Civic Theatre.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if the three of us, who have never played together, got together and played,’” Sampson said.

Zellar and Leighton readily agreed, and will swap songs and stories in a relaxed setting.

Songwriter circles are common in Nashville and Austin, Texas, where there are more songwriters than snowflakes. Minnesota is producing a fair number of songwriters, too, and Sampson is intent on showcasing them.

Zellar, an Austin native, was a founding member and chief songwriter for the Gear Daddies. Zellar’s songs about life in a small town found a positive critical and popular reception. The Gear Daddies have reunited now and again, but Zellar primarily performs and records as a solo artist.

Leighton is one of the most popular acts in Minnesota music and regularly performs throughout the Midwest.

So how did you get these two guys lined up for a concert?

I’ve been doing more and more shows with Zellar. He performed at one of our songwriter rounds a couple of years ago. That was the first time he had done a songwriter-in-the-round show. He was thrilled and said he wanted to do it again. So he was on the top of my mind when Iput this together.

What about Leighton?

I grew up going to G.B. Leighton shows. I’m a really big fan of his songwriting. Ithink it will be a nice chance for him to showcase all these songs he’s written, and he has written a lot of good ones.

Will Zellar be playing new songs?

I saw him at Thanksgiving and he was playing a couple of new songs. He has recorded a new record, so Iwouldn’t be surprised if he dropped some surprises on people.

Talk about the art of songwriting.

I’m constantly reminded when I play with Zellar how simple songwriting is. Some of these songs he wrote when he was in his teens still connect with people. Since I’ve been going to Nashville, I’ve seen that when professional songwriters get together, they try to get real clever. But it’s not about that.

Who do you have coming up in future showcase concerts?

We have Matthew Ryan from Nashville on April 15, and Ray Wylie Hubbard, from Austin, Texas, and Dana Cooper, from Nashville, on May 9. Cooper was really the inspiration for why we started this showcase to begin with.

You’re satisfied with the support for the series?

I can’t thank people enough for coming out and taking a chance.

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