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The Salt-of-the-Earth Americana of The Zach Pietrini Band

Zach Pietrini
The Zach Pietrini Band with Lake Effect's Bonnie North.

As evidenced by their performance on Summerfest's Emerging Artists stage, The Zach Pietrini Band says that the recognition of their brand of folk music is growing. The Milwaukee-based group describes its style as "Salt-of-the-Earth-Americana," and their songs speak to the lived experiences of Midwesterners.

Zach Pietrini, the band's namesake, says he has nothing against the direction that music is going. At the same time, he says their music evokes a different feeling from newer, hyper-produced or electronic music.

"In the wake of all that, I think sometimes people miss the human-ness that is represented in Americana," Pietrini says. "I mean they're stories, you know?" 

The band's new record, Holding Onto Ghosts, was released earlier this year and the group says it's a "loud yet vulnerable exploration into letting go of the things that haunt them."

Although most of the band members have known each other for years, the group has grown slowly but surely since its inception. Lead guitarist Jared Plant has only made one previous appearance with the band, while keyboarder Eric Anderson has been playing alongside Zach for years. Meanwhile, bass player Mike Sancho says he got on board when he saw Zach playing in a Menomonee Falls venue and noticed he was missing the musical depth a bass guitar provides. 

The band says that playing at Summerfest provides exposure to a crowd they may not otherwise reach. In addition to simply promoting the band, Sancho says taking the stage at the Henry W. Maier Festival grounds was a dream come true. 

"When I moved here, I mean, top of my bucket list was to play at Summerfest and it took a few years," Mike says. "Everybody that's a musician in this part of the world wants to play at Summerfest."

Behind the scenes, The Zach Pietrini Band says their music making style tends to be co-writing on the fly. Zach brings demo tracks and the band works together to fill out a song with the individual parts. They say some songs seem to come together quickly, while others require more labor. After the songs are written, Anderson says it takes time for every song to sound stage-ready. 

"There's a whole season of rehearsal that is like, figuring out how you want to play the song and then there's like a whole season of rehearsal that's like, nailing the set." 

The Zach Pietrini Band will play the Brady Street Festival, Saturday, July 29. 


Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.