The Hippo


Jun 1, 2020








Zak Trojano. Courtesy photo.

 Zak Trojano (opening for Les Poules à Colin)

When: Friday, Sept. 7, 8 p.m. 
Where: Riverwalk Cafe, 35 Railroad Square, Nashua
Tickets: $15 at

Analog man
Zak Trojano brings new album to Nashua


 By Michael Witthaus
If it were up to Zak Trojano, he’d toss his smart phone into the nearest ravine and go fly fishing. It’s a topic the singer-songwriter covers well on “Nowhere Shuffle,” the second track from his third album, Wolf Trees. “I’m so tired of the walking dead,” he sings of the screen addled masses. “Bowed heads and praying hands, nowhere with everyone at once.”
Like most performers, he concedes social media makes the device a necessary evil, but it’s a love-hate relationship for Trojano — with more of the latter. 
“Nobody is really present,” he said recently while visiting his parents in Contoocook. “People are tripping over sidewalks, just constantly staring down. ... It made me think of zombies.”
Trojano’s music is introspective lyrically, shaped by deft fingerpicking and astute melodic sense. “My Room” finds him hiding from the world “while the roses bloom outside,” content to compose in solitude. On the title cut, he muses about a hideaway in the woods “where nothing gets too big ... in the soft light of the almost dark,” buffeted by the elements.
“If I wasn’t a musician full time I’d be out there cleaning a river,” he told a Rhode Island writer earlier this year. 
On Trojano’s website, he sells one-off tracks to fans and donates the money to Trout Unlimited (or the ACLU). So it’s fitting that the new record was made like a wooden chain fashioned from a single tree. 
“It’s pretty much written in order. ... One song led into the next song in my mind and in how I wrote the record,” he said. “It comes easily to me to work like that, gives me a framework to draw from. I almost think it’s harder to just write a song sitting out there in the middle of nowhere and then try to gather 10 to 12 of them to put on a record.”
He was thinking about Pink Floyd’s Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon, albums that represent an entire thought — don’t get him started about chopping up Wolf Trees and releasing it a single at a time. 
“My senior composition project in college was sort of a rock opera … very programmatic; start to finish,” he said. “Not everyone listens to whole records anymore, but it works for me.”
Trojano became a singer-songwriter after playing drums, first in now disbanded Rusty Belle and later with established folk artists like Chris Smither, Peter Mulvey, Kris Delmhorsst and Jeffrey Foucault. Watching from the back of the stage made him crave being out front. 
“I didn’t want to be the drummer anymore,” he said. “I wanted to write the tunes, get out and sing them, to see if I liked it.”
Traveling through Europe with Foucault,  a master of his craft who deserves more attention, Trojano picked up a few tips. 
“He is such a deliberate and considerate lyric writer, and I’m much more melodic. ... I try to get the lyrics to work within the framework of the song,” he said. “It’s fun to chat with him and see the different ways of going about things. He asked me once on some tune, ‘Are you considering the narrator?’ I said, ‘No, not at all; I don’t even know what that means.’ I think it’s me — it’s always me.”
The Granite State native will share the bill at Riverwalk Cafe with youthful French-Canadian “wondertrad” band Les Poules a Colin. He enjoys returning to the venue. 
“There are not a lot of great rooms in New Hampshire for some reason, so it’s good to have a place pop up like that that is music first; it’s a real listening room,” he said. “They treat the artists like a million bucks, the sound is great and the vibe is awesome. I just want there to be 50 more of them that pop up.” 

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