Zito brings Stackabones to Delmarva Folk Festival

Butch Zito, of Stanton, and his Americana band Stackabones will perform an acoustic set at this weekend’s Delmarva Folk Festival Saturday at Fields Farm, near Hartly.  (Submitted photo)

Butch Zito, of Stanton, and his Americana band Stackabones will perform an acoustic set at this weekend’s Delmarva Folk Festival Saturday at Fields Farm, near Hartly. (Submitted photo)

An accomplished musician with a substantial body of his own tunes, Butch Zito was a bit of a musical outcast when he first came to Delaware in 1985.

Best Bets logo CLEAR copy“I remember when I first got here getting up to play at O’Friel’s (Irish Pub) in Wilmington and they didn’t want to listen to me,” he said.

“Prior to me there was a guy who played ‘American Pie’ and ‘Margaritaville’ and stuff like that and it was tough getting anyone to pay attention to me up there singing my original songs.”

But as the years have passed, Mr. Zito and his northern Delaware-based Americana jam band Stackabones has become a regular up and down the East Coast at events such as this weekend’s Delmarva Folk Festival near Hartly.

It’s a resurgence for a group which got its start in Austin, Texas, in 1981 after Mr. Zito moved to the area from New York to soak up the town’s vibrant music scene.

Mr. Zito started Stackabones — named for Woody Guthrie’s nickname for his young daughter, Cathy Ann — with friend Jim Brighton and they quickly became a fixture on the Austin music scene in the mid-1980s.

The desire to move to the area came from Mr. Zito’s love of the Texas sound.

“I was into classic rock when it was still new and then became classic rock,” the 59-year-old guitarist and vocalist joked.

“I was into the Grateful Dead but more of their cowboy stuff rather than their spacey stuff. The Texas music opened a whole new world to me. People like David Bromberg and John Prine, those guys really appealed to me.”

Stackabones received a boost in 1983 when the band’s single “Burned On Love”/“Texas Town” was played before Grateful Dead shows during a summer tour.

“I was out in the parking lot before their show at this big outdoor racetrack in Austin putting fliers for an upcoming show on people’s cars and heard this familiar sound coming from inside the track,” Mr. Zito said.

“Our bass player came running up to us yelling ‘They are playing us.’ It was quite a hoot to know that 50,000 people along with indirectly the Grateful Dead were listening to our songs.”

Turns out the band’s drummer took lessons from Dead percussionist Bill Kreutzmann and gave Mr. Kreutzmann a cassette of Stackabones’ music.

That exposure helped lift the visibility of the band to Austin music fans and Deadheads alike.

Moving to Delaware a few years later to be with his now ex-wife. Mr. Zito still traveled around the country with Stackabones and they were signed to Relix Records in 1990. The group has recorded four albums and been featured on three others, the last one being “The Wax Still Drips” in 2011.

Plans are in the works for another Stackabones’ album and a solo work from Mr. Zito, who also plays with Wilmington jam band The Porch Chops.

His song “Tall Grass” won an American Marijuana Music Award and his tune “Chicken Squawk” caught the attention of skateboarder Tony Hawk, who uses it in his routines.

Reformed in 2011 with local talent, Stackabones is comprised of musicians from around the region including his wife Teri, who sings backup. The two of them last performed at the Delmarva Folk Festival, presented by the Delaware Friends of Folk, in 2007.

Mr. Zito won an Established Artist Musical Grant for $6,000 from the state of Delaware in late 2003. An architect by trade, he used much of the money to construct an outdoor stage behind his 115-year-old farmhouse in Stanton.

He now hosts concerts and music festivals, which showcase local talent.

“We musicians don’t make much money doing what we do but we’re still willing to play anytime, anywhere. So this is my way of giving back,” Mr. Zito said.

“Sometimes at the end of the night you’ll end up with 15 or 25 bucks. The club owner will say ‘You didn’t sell enough beer.’ But here we’re selling nothing, just tickets. There are no vendors. Just me and the band splitting the money. People seem to like the venue. It’s working out well.”

Although admitting that moving to Delaware from Austin was a “culture shock,” Mr. Zito has fully embraced the Delaware music scene and is glad that events such as the Delmarva Folk Festival exist.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for folks to listen to local musicians. Not to belittle cover bands playing in a bar because that’s where the money is but I just think there are so many other great musicians and writers just waiting to be heard,” he said.

“It’s just a chance to bring a lawn chair, sit down, don’t request ‘Freebird’ and just enjoy yourselves. By going to these places like the Philly Folk Festival or the one down there, you get exposed to so many more bands that you would have never heard before. I just think it’s such a fantastic thing that those folks are doing there.”
Stackabones will play an acoustic set at the Delmarva Folk Festival starting at 7 p.m.

The festival gets underway at 7 tonight with the Delmarva Folk Hero Contest, in which the audience will select this year’s Delmarva Folk Hero from six finalists. Last year’s winners, acoustic rockers Dan and James, will serve as masters of ceremonies.

The winner gets a chance to open the main festival on Saturday, which starts at noon and continues until 11 p.m.

These lineup of acts includes Shane Palko, Frog Protectors, Sankofa Dancers, Andy and Denise, Free Range and Me and My Friend Phyllis. Covered Bridge, the local acoustic duo featuring Kevin Nemith and Joey Fulkerson, will close the show.

The day also includes kids’ games, vendors, food, camping, a bonfire and fireside jam sessions. It will be held rain or shine.

All of it takes place at Fields Farm, 352 Downs Chapel Road, near Hartly.

Ticket price for tonight’s Folk Hero Finals is $7 for everyone ages 13 and older.

Advance Saturday tickets are $20, but Delaware Friends of Folk members get a $5 voucher to use anytime in 2015-2016 at any Delfolk event if bought online at www.delfolk.org.

Tickets are available until noon today at the Delaware Store, 325 S. State St. on The Green in Dover.

Tickets at the gate are $30 Saturday, half price for ages 13-18 and children younger than 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

For more information, call 827-3655 or visit delfolk.org.

Pink Floyd tribute tonight

If your musical tastes tend toward Pink Floyd, Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts has just the show tonight.
Delaware tribute band In The Light, featuring Joe Trainor, will perform the songs of two classic albums at 7:30 p.m.

Commemorating the 40th anniversary, the first half of the show will consist of Floyd’s 1975 release ‘Wish You Were Here’, which includes favorites “Have A Cigar” and the album’s title track. The second half will be the 1977 pre-”Wall” turning point album “Animals” which includes “Sheep” as well as the 17-minute epic “Dogs.” The show will conclude with a encore set of Floyd favorites.

In The Light is Mr. Trainor (vocals, keyboard), Scott Lawing (lead guitar), Andy Faver (rhythm guitar), Steve Kuzminski (keyboards, guitar), Christian Salcedo (bass guitar) and Matt Urban (drums).

Mr. Trainor was last seen Downstate at the Smyrna Opera House in July doing a rollicking tribute to the music of Billy Joe.

Tonight’s show, which sold out the Arden Gild Hall last week, comes complete with a light and smoke show.

Tickets are $18-$22. To purchase, visit www.schwartzcenter.com, call 678-5152 or buy them at the door.

The Schwartz Center is at 226 S. State St.

Night of standup comedy

Also tonight, Blue Hen Comedy presents “An Evening of Standup Comedy” at the Smyrna Opera House at 7 .

The evening features Philadelphia comedians Shane Gillis and Michael Brooks; Delaware’s own Missy Grynkiewicz and Brandon Jackson; and Phil Korz, winner of Salisbury University’s Funniest Person competition.

Headliner Mr. Gillis is a central Pennsylvania native and stand-up comic who recently moved to Philadelphia and performs all over the eastern United States. In 2014 he was named Baltimore’s Comedian of the Year.

Tickets are $16 for general admission and $14 for members, senior citizens and military.

To purchase, visit www.smyrnaoperahouse.org or call 653-4236. They also will be available at the door. Smyrna Opera House is a 7 W. South St.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the animated “Hotel Transylvania 2,” the suspense thriller “The Green Inferno” and Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway in the comedy “The Intern.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the film version of “Entourage,” the remake of “Poltergeist” and the comedy “Spy.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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