Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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Archives

    Bateman brings the unexpected to the stage at Yoshi’s Oakland

    Zack Bateman arrived promptly for our interview at Jack London Square.

    His relaxed demeanor and friendly welcome belied the fact that he has suffered from severe panic attacks since childhood. In fact, he discovered that performing in front of an audience always “cured” his anxiety, and he quickly warmed to appearing on stage.

    “Facing a group or crowd actually helped calm me and get me focused,” Bateman said. “I kind of had the opposite of stage fright!”

    Bateman comes from a long line of performance artists, so it didn’t surprise anyone that he was a natural on stage. He began starring in grade school theater productions. At 14, he learned guitar and formed a band. His mother, a blues singer, welcomed his decision. Today, she sometimes provides vocal background for his group, and supports his artistic efforts wholeheartedly.

    Music was an important part of his family’s tradition. From an early age, Bateman was exposed to a wide variety of musical genres from folk, reggae and blues to rock and roll, jazz, and soul. “I was always drawn to the darker, grittier music and lyrics. The supernatural with voodoo overtones, the outlandish, the macabre — they seemed familiar territory to me.”

    His show, “Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard,” which premiers Oct. 15 at Yoshi’s in Oakland, features Bateman and his nine band members, a tribute to some of his early music influences. “I wanted to pay homage to two artists in particular, Tom Waits and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins , who made such a deep impression on me and my music early on.”

    When Waits scored the theme song to the hit television series “The Wire,” he became visible to a whole new audience of young people. “Way Down in the Hole captured the ghetto vibe — it was the perfect musical and lyrical background for the complex, long-running crime series based in Baltimore.

    “I had been listening to Waits since I was 13, and loved his sound. I recently saw him perform at a benefit for the Bridge School in Oakland. His 2013 show was packed solid, with fans of all ages. Suddenly, everyone in my age group knows about him and is tuning in to his work.

    “Hawkins was another of my major influences, a black vocalist who wanted to sing opera. In the 50’s, those doors were firmly closed to minorities, so he embarked on a career of travel and vocal exploration,” explained Bateman.

    “The culmination of his life experiences is passionately and theatrically portrayed in his eclectic genre of rhythm and blues. He died at age 79, leaving behind a unique artistic legacy that has inspired me. I want to introduce his music to new audiences so that they can fall in love with his sound and learn from his life struggles,” said Bateman.

    Of his new show, he said, “Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard,” came together quickly after I put out a call for band members on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I had been playing professionally for several years as well as doing stand-up comedy, so I know lots of local musicians and the performance venues in the area.

    Bateman continued, “Our first rehearsal just clicked, with various styles playing off one another to create a whole new level. And it just kept building and getting better each time we played together. We recently added two horn players to the mix that has given our sound another dimension. It’s very cool.”

    The late evening show on Oct. 15 will combine costumes, dance, comedy and commentary alongside the songs performed for a total entertainment experience. Expect the unexpected! Be ready to party! “I bring a lot of my background in stand-up comedy and theater to my singing style so that my concerts have some of the feel of a variety show. I think those extras enhance the music and give it a bigger context.” And it is the perfect mood set-up to kick off your spooky, funky Halloween celebrations.

    Bateman, now 25, added,“At this point in my career, I am playing almost all paid gigs. It’s been a struggle, but worth all the effort.” Asked for advice to aspiring musicians, the musician responded, “Persevere, be thorough, find out everything you can about a band on its website, and above all, follow through with your commitments. If you say you are going to show up, show up.” All the talent in the world won’t get you where you want to go without persistence.

    Zack Bateman is performing on October 15 at Yoshi’s in Downtown Oakland at 10:30 P.M., $15.

    BAND MEMBERS:

    Zack Bateman — Lead Vocals

    Aaron Chacon — Rhythm Guitarist, Sound Engineer

    Stephen Michael Petersen — Lead Guitar, Frontman for Stephen Michael and The Rickety Van Band

    Ben Wallace Ailsworth — Drums, BASS and Drum Instructor at Guitar Center

    Raum Dee — Bassist, Bay-Area Based Comedian

    Carmen Veronica — Keys/Backup vocals, Director of up and coming Zombie Short Film, Book of Lillith

    Edwina Maye Phillips — Backup Vocals, Lead singer of The Filthy Mudbloods and my mom)

    Ivan and Dell — Horn Section

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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