We Need a Guitar Hero, and Zach Person Is Among a Crop of Austin Musicians Ready to Step In

Zach Person is excited to pick up his guitar and play for live audiences again.
Zach Person is excited to pick up his guitar and play for live audiences again. Christopher Durst
Zach Person was a skateboarding kid in North Carolina when his friends turned him on to the music of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. He was enticed by the sounds of the electric guitar, and when he began to take lessons, he took inspiration from BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix.

An aspiring guitarist likely couldn't have chosen a better set of idols, particularly one who was just 10 years old when he began playing music.

After stops living in New Jersey, North Carolina and Houston, Person landed in Austin in 2017, another good choice for an aspiring professional musician. Living there has provided the 24-year-old blues singer and guitarist the inspiration and freedom he needed to create his self-titled debut album, which was released this April.

“Blues is definitely at the root of what I'm playing,” Person says. “I know we use the phrase ‘indie-rock’ to describe what I’m doing, but I would consider myself a bluesman.”

The Houston Chronicle has called Person, along with fellow Austinites Black Pumas and Emily Wolfe, “new guitar heroes.”

This October, Person will take the stage at Austin City Limits, marking his first festival appearance.

“We’ve been cooped up for a long time,” Person says. “Now, festivals are coming back with a vengeance. I think everybody's ready for something big musically. Live music, I feel, is on the rise, and I feel this festival season is actually really good for any genre, especially rock, but any genre with live instrumentation involved.”

Person says living in Austin has allowed him to present his music to an open-minded audience. One of his earliest performances consisted of him performing in a listening room on a roster of rotating performers.

“It doesn’t matter what you want to perform,” Person says. “We're here to listen to it and appreciate it. This has held true since I’ve been living here.”

His debut is heavily influenced by rock and blues. On a fan-favorite track, “Can’t Stop Runnin’,” he embraces the joys of being a rising musician while remaining humble and still chasing the dream as an up-and-comer.

On his personal favorite track, “Crossroads,” he takes inspiration from Robert Johnson’s song of the same name. He alters the song to make it more in-line with his personal journey, but the influence is clear.

“I started toying around during quarantine,” Person says, “with the idea of revisiting that song. With this version of ‘Crossroads,’ it kind of explored the idea of ‘What if it was flipped?’ or 'What if I had to go through what he went through, but in 2020?’ I'm very spiritual, so I did things differently than he did.’”

Person is on tour and just wrapped up a show at South Side Ballroom in Dallas. When venues shut down, Person began developing a fan base through his online releases. Now, he is looking forward to performing for those fans for the first time.

“I’m so nervous,” Person says. “But touring is an opportunity I’ve always dreamed of. I’m excited to see another group of fans out there that want to come out and rock out with us.”
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Alex Gonzalez has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2018. He is a Dallas native whose work has appeared in Local Profile, MTV News and the Austin American-Statesman. He has eclectic taste in music and enjoys writing about art, food and culture.
Contact: Alex Gonzalez