Zebra’s Randy Jackson @ J&R Music World (8/29/2009)

Randy Jackson is the powerhouse voice and guitar behind the band Zebra and for the past three decades has entertained fans with their incredible brand of Hard Rock. Every so often we find the musician doing an acoustic set of material at a venue near you but this time he would be performing at J&R Music World’s music instrument store and offer fans and customers the chance to enjoy him in very close quarters and for free. We couldn’t resist the chance to take part in this.

Logo - Zebra

Artist: Randy Jackson (Zebra)
Venue: J&R Music World (New York, NY)
Opener: n/a
Date: 8/29/2009

As the summer moved steadily to a close I had to say that New York City was being treated to an incredibly diverse amount of Metal and Hard Rock shows and more than I can remember the previous years offering us. The summer itself had been a productive one in terms of what it had delivered to the fans and over the past two weeks alone we found Marduk, Otep, Mushroomhead, Night Ranger, Heaven and Hell and even former Manowar guitarist Ross The Boss who happened to play a rousing set of music until the wee hours of this very morning with NWOBHM’s Raven as direct support. It appeared that the only thing heavier than the music would be the dreadful level of humidity that had been hitting us over the recent weeks. Today’s fun would definitely be something special in nature and find guitarist/singer Randy Jackson from Zebra delivering an acoustic set of tunes in the new J&R Music World music instrument store. I really love that J&R Music World does these kinds of things and feel they totally understand the music fans that are out there and in the recent past we have been present for in-store signings by the likes of Halford and Twisted Sister and in store gigs from Shadow’s Fall so it would be cool to enjoy the difference of an acoustic set by Randy.

The event was a part of J&R Music World’s Music and Tech Expo and Randy’s appearance was connected with the folks over at Nikon cameras who were all mingling with customers and fans showing off some of their brands latest developments. The musician was armed with only an acoustic guitar and his voice and he began the gig with a number from Zebra’s third album “3.V” which I felt was an interesting way to start. Having seen Zebra perform a number of times in the past I was actually a little surprised that he didn’t pull out “As I Said Before” from his hat and give us that one, but of course the afternoon was still young. When the tune was done the familiar chords of David Bowie’s “Major Tom” began and I knew that all present were in for a number of treats at this point. I love when performers take classic rock or even your harder edged numbers and bring them down a notch by delivering the track acoustically and when Randy continued into “A Day In The Life” by The Beatles he firmed up this viewpoint in my musical mind. As Randy began to present Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” I realized how he seemed to be visiting the halls of musical legend and it was definitely a cool thing to hear just how good these tunes were sounding in the acoustic sense.

A very soulful rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” came up next and while I am sure that many of the Zebra fans are aware of how well Randy does Robert Plant, the rest of you are in for a treat if you see him perform and he pulls one of these out of the hat. It’s safe to say that Randy Jackson does a better Robert Plant than Plant himself does and I am not just speaking about the most recent times, but a good couple of decades back as well. Jackson spoke to the crowd a couple of times and the rather intimate space had also begun to draw in the curious passerby from Park Row as well as fans of Randy’s music and that was nice. They had him set up in the middle of the store off to its left near the counter as opposed to on any kind of stage. This level doesn’t have the same setup as the music releases store does a couple of doors down and while it would have been nice to find Randy performing there, they had another event happening at the same time. Maybe next time around they will set this up on the second level where the drums are, as you know there has to be room where such instruments are sold. The musician then brought us back to the Zebra material as the first tune I ever heard from them began with “Tell Me What You Want” and as it played I noticed that several of my fellow fans were singing along. Me, I played some air drums in time to how the song went on the album which I am sure amused Jackson if he caught sight of that. The tune is often a concert closer so I thought this would be it for us but instead we got another Zebra tune in “Who’s Behind The Door” and this one sounds very, very cool in the acoustic sense. Having heard three Zebra numbers done in this fashion made me hope that Jackson has it in mind to release an acoustic album of the bands best tunes. That will surely please his fans.

Randy thanked everyone for coming and said he would give us one more and that was when the poignant John Lennon tune “Watchin’ The Wheels” began and when it ended we would find that the show would not end and instead continue along for the interesting choice of “Drive” by The Cars. Fans of that band would have been impressed because it is largely a keyboard driven number and to hear it done via acoustic guitar only was something very unique. The final tune would come with “The Question” by The Moody Blues however and I don’t think that after hearing ten songs for free that anyone was going to complain. I know that I was not the only one finding the need to hear a full acoustic set by Randy in the future a necessity and a mission to accomplish. After he finished the set, he packed up the guitar and mingled with the folks who wanted to shake his hand or pose for a photograph with him. He had some of the Zebra CD’s on sale and he also was willing to sign any of the albums, photos and CD’s that the fans had brought along with them. I would have liked to see more people present at this since it was so special but then again I always say that kind of stuff. If you took the chance and made it down you were treated to a special treat and if you chose to pass on it, well then you very simply missed out and have no one but yourself to blame.

Randy Jackson still tours with Zebra on a regular basis and does performances as a solo artist where he offers up renditions of classics along with some Zebra standards. Fans who might need new copies of the bands CD’s can find them all on Amazon.com and the curious are advised to look into the bands “Greatest Hits” package as well as their recent DVD since it allows for a great lesson in the groups rich history. Hopefully Randy will record and release one of these acoustic sets because it was truly a wonderful afternoon.

Set List:
1. Better Not Call – Zebra
2. Major Tom – David Bowie
3. A Day In The Life – The Beatles
4. Tiny Dancer – Elton John
5. No Quarter – Led Zeppelin
6. Tell Me What You Want – Zebra
7. Who’s Behind The Door – Zebra
8. Watchin’ The Wheels – John Lennon
9. Drive – The Cars
10. The Question – The Moody Blues

Official Website:
Official Website: http://www.randyjackson.com

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