For an evening, Zachariah Malachi and the Hillbilly Executives transform Manchester Underground Music and Art into the Grand Ole Opry.
Zachariah Malachi and the Hillbilly Executives at Manchester Underground Music and Art
Zachariah Malachi is quite a biblical name. In the Old Testament, Zechariah and Malachi are the final prophetic books. They speak to keeping the faith and the future messiah. It might be a stretch to think of Zachariah Malachi and the Hillbilly Executives as the new messiahs of country music. However, they are certainly keepers of the faith and proponents for the old testament of country music.
Our first experience with Zachariah Malachi came just a couple weeks ago at the Johnny Cash tribute at the DIA. Zachariah handled many of the vocal duties while playing acoustic guitar. Joining him for this evenings gig are the Hillbilly Executives featuring Jackson Smith (guitar), James MacPhee (bass), and Nick Marocco (snare drum).
Tonight’s performance by Zachariah Malachi and the Hillbilly Executives at the Manchester Underground Music and Art is sold out. Every seat is full with some folks standing while others take a seat on the stairs. A few find a cozy nook to perch upon. It is close quarters, but nobody seems to mind as we are thrilled to experience a night of classic country swing.
The Grand Ole Opry comes to Manchester
If you close your eyes and listen to Zachariah Malachi and the Hillbilly Executives during their performance in Manchester, you can imagine that you were transported back in time and listening to the Grand Ole Opry. I found myself once again transported into childhood.
Hearing Zachariah singing and yodeling Hank William’s “Lovesick Blues” or crooning Marty Robbin’s classic “El Paso” brought up memories of my Mom listening to these songs while cooking or cleaning the house. When Zachariah and the Hillbilly Executives played “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones and “Hello Walls” by Feron Young, I could see my Mom and Dad sitting in the little kitchen table at our house in Pinckney.
Zachariah’s voice combined with the brilliant playing of Jackson, James, and Nick bring these classic country songs to life. They make each song their own while remaining true to the original artist’s vision. Jackson Smith had his Gibson ES-140 singing with a country twang then swinging with Django jazz. Nick and James would let the rhythm swing or chug like a locomotive to fit the mood of the music.
Building on Classic Country
While Zachariah Malachi and the Hillbilly Executives can easily pay homage to the classic country artists, they also excel in writing original music that builds upon the foundation of western swing. The “Drinking Song” is a fun and rowdy song that gets you fired up for one more round. Heartache is a common theme in music and Zachariah captures this on “If I Could Only Change Your Mind”. The upbeat swing on this tune counters the tragic message making it that much more poignant.
That Was One Long Set
Typically, a show at Manchester Underground Music and Arts features a couple of 50-minute sets from the artist. I could see Zachariah looking over at Steve Girbach who is part of the trio (which includes John Mooneyham and Jason Heinrich) that put on Manchester Underground. Steve would give Zachariah a thumbs up and the band would push on. Well after 90 minutes, the band finally took a break. Evidently Zachariah took the thumbs up as a sign to keep going, while Steve was trying to let him know that he was good to go. They shared this story after a short break which leads to a good deal of laughs.
One More Round
After a super short second set, the band heads backstage and quickly return for an encore. Zachariah Malachi invites Libby DeCamp to sing a couple of Hank Williams songs with him. Libby has a beautiful voice that pairs well with Zachariah’s. Mark your calendars for May 16th as Libby will be back at the Manchester Underground to perform her own music.
Zachariah Malachi and the Hillbilly Executives rounded out their encore with a foot-stomping cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” and one of my favorite Merle Haggard songs “Mama Tried”. Zachariah will be heading down to Nashville soon. He also has a new album coming out, so keep your eyes peeled. Hopefully, Zachariah Malachi and the Hillbilly Executives will swing on back to Michigan for another night of classic country music.
We have a few more pictures of Zachariah Malachi and the Hillbilly Executives at Manchester Underground Music and Art. Enjoy the images. Contact us regarding any use.
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