Appalachia John Ferris and Judith Zander
Appalachia. The Appalachian Mountain chain extends throughout North America from a southern-most point in Springer Mountain, Georgia up through Cape Gaspi in Quebec, and then re-emerging as the Long Range Mountain chain which runs north along the Western Coast of Newfoundland. Judith Zander and John Ferris call their band Appalachia because they are fortunate enough to live among the Appalachian Mountains in both western North Carolina as well as on Bonne Bay, in western Newfoundland.
The band Appalachia plays music you'll probably recognize: primarily the blues. They also play some rock and country material including newly-arranged covers of Johnny Cash, the Beatles and Dylan, and Newfoundland as well as Appalachian songs, all done with a blusey twist.
John Ferris was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950, and grew up beneath the Myrtle Avenue elevated train. He now spends summers in Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland, and winters in an old log cabin in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. He started out as a singer in rock and blues groups in the 1960s, and sang in choruses and church choirs for most of his life. Johns blues and gospel influences include Muddy Waters, BB King, Robert Johnson, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Canned Heat, Ray Charles, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Staples Singers, Blind Boys of Alabama, Hank Williams Sr., and all the great Motown R&B artists like Little Anthony, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, James Brown and many more.
Judith Zander was born in Washington, DC in 1957 and grew up in the suburbs of New York City. As a girl, she took a few years of classical training on piano and sang in school choruses. In her teens, she took folk guitar lessons from a neighbour and jazz guitarist, Billy Bauer. Drawn to Greenwich Village at the age of twenty, Judith played steel string guitar and sang in three bands: a folk-rock duo, Barshaw and Zee (harmony vocals and lead guitar); a seminal protest rock group, David Peel and the Lower East Side, (vocals and percussion); and an original punk band,The Lost Souls (electric guitar and back-up vocals).
During the nearly twenty-five years that have elapsed since that active time, Judith has devoted herself to graphic arts. While living in Los Angeles during the 1980s, her musical activities mainly consisted of writing concert reviews of great emergent pop bands of the period. In the mid-90s she joined the international contra dance and English country dance community, and in 1996 she met up with John Ferris, an experienced dancer. The two have been kindred spirits ever since.
Judith lives up to half a year annually in Western Newfoundland, returning to the States for the colder months, where she sings and plays music with John at farmers markets and other venues not far from Asheville, North Carolina.
How She Got Her Chops Back. In 2004, inspired by acoustic blues playing in North Carolina at Blue Mountain Pizza, Judith decided to pick up guitar again. With fortunate timing, John was ready to pick up where he left off from his own musical past. Together, the two comprise the band Appalachia.
Rhythmically and melodically, Judith's relaxed singing style and the syncopated feel to her guitar playing are due to the musical influence of her father, Dick Zander, who shared his exhaustive jazz record collection with her and her sister, an experience that was "enriching beyond measure," says Judith.
Half of Appalachia's material is blues and the rest is an eclectic blend of country and choice rock covers with a blues feel. The most direct influences on the band's guitar work include Etta Baker, Mississippi John Hurt, Precious Bryant and Asheville based musician Barry Benjamin, from whom Judith learns Piedmont blues tunes. Judith also cites as inspirations a few artists who have meant the world to her for their style, perseverance and for displaying the beauty of the blues itself John Mayall, Bonnie Raitt, Leon Russell, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and some of the old greats John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Big Joe Turner and Big Bill Broonzy.