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Backstage With Elias – Zak Ward

A common observation from a number of people I’ve talked to over the years is that Niagara Falls produces a number of really good musicians. I thought it to be true for a long time, and it never ceases to amaze me at how many cats in the Buffalo music scene have Niagara Falls roots. Young up and comers, veteran players, you name it. A guy in-between those groupings is Zak Ward. The 33 year old musician/actor has been playing professionally since 2004, and is maturing into a formidable player in the scene.

2833b68fc9b1fb77-1178400-R2-E037Zak was born and raised in the Falls. His parents both come from the entertainment industry, as actors and business owners, owning and operating a theater in NYC. His parents moved to the region when his dad was hired by Niagara University as a theater professor, and was also artistic director at Artpark in the ’80s.

Entertaining was always a part of Zak’s life. He first performed at 4 years of age at the former Niagara Falls Convention Center in a production of Peter Pan, he played the role of Michael. As a young boy, he would always dance and sing, “I was doing all kinds of stupid stuff to get a laugh,” he shares.

He discovered music, and loved groups like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead. He was 14 years old at the time. His mom recognized that, and acted on it. He says, “She bought me an electric guitar, and it took off from there.” He feels that was the game changer for him. Later in his teen years, he and his friends would, with the help of adults in their life, play gigs around Buffalo, laying the groundwork for what’s to come.

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Zak would go on to attend Niagara University, earning a degree in Theater in 2004. He moved to Boston to play professionally. He stayed for 2 years, then continued that trek with a move to Los Angeles, where he stayed for another year.

Returning home on the late 2000’s, he fronted Son of the Sun, a band that performed regularly at local clubs, earning the local opening slots for national touring groups. He continues to stay close to the acting and theater roots, performing at Musical Fare Theater as the lead in The Buddy Holly Story, which ran for a number of weeks. More recently, he performed a James Taylor tribute show, also at Musical Fare, which demonstrated Zak’s talent to become the character. You could have closed your eyes and believed it really was James Taylor playing and singing in front of you. (I hope he does that show again).

His future plans include an Elvis Costello tribute show, currently in development, debuting in the Fall. But the long term goal for Zak is his original work. He just released a new video this past week for his new single “Who You Really Are”. He has 2 EPs in his back pocket, and his latest work is called “That’s What You get”. You can purchase the album here.

While he continues to produce original music, he performs regularly throughout Buffalo and Niagara Falls with Zak Ward and the Ryan Bros, and Kurt and the Loders. He is also set to kick off the Live at Larkin season this Wednesday, June 17, opening for John and Mary and The Valkyries. His group will feature Kent Weber on Bass, Steve Tripi on Drums, Jeremy Franklin on Guitar and Kevin Corbett on Guitar and Keys.

Niagara Falls continues to produce terrific musicians who find their way to Buffalo, and further enrich the local scene. They help make the collective WNY music scene even better. Zak Ward is a guy who most definitely fills that bill.

You can follow Zak at:

www.zakward.com

twitter.com/zakward

facebook.com/travelzakward

Photos: Steve Matthews

 

Written by Elias Benavides

Elias Benavides

A goofy kid from Buffalo's lower west side who loved to play the guitar and loved live music. Has moved on to sound engineering, stage lighting, anything live music. Now he's writing about musicians on BR too. Why am I talking in the third person?

View All Articles by Elias Benavides
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