Zephaniah OHora sat down with Chuck Dauphin over at Billboard to discuss his influences from, the obvious one, Merle Haggard to Red Simpson, Hank Snow and Gram Parsons, finding the incredible classic country band, The 18 Wheelers, in the middle of Brooklyn and the philosophical questions behind the best Country music.
Billboard has also premiered the retro video for “Take Your Love Out Of Town”, which Zephaniah says “paints the picture of living in the aftermath of a love gone bad. It’s easy to decide who takes the couch, who gets the records, but what about all your old favorite places? It’s amazing how a place as big as New York City can feel so small when you’re trying to move on, and avoid all of the subtle reminders of someone that come with the places you go and the people you might see. Sometimes, you wish they’d just leave town.”
More info on Zephaniah OHora’s This Highway
It’s a dark little bar, named after Guy Clark’s bass player, that’s tucked into a lost corner of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. The band’s crammed up on the stage, nearly spilling into the audience, and young couples are two-stepping around the edges. With a nightly lineup of the best young honky-tonk bands in the US coming through, Skinny Dennis has become the center of New York’s burgeoning roots country scene, and Zephaniah OHora–his hair slicked back, all decked out in black–is leading this new community. OHora’s encyclopedic knowledge and burning love for old country music glows triumphantly throughout his new album This Highway (set for release May 26, 2017), which frames his original songs right in the crossroads of a golden era in the music: the meeting of the Bakersfield and Nashville Sounds of the 1960s. This blend of New-York-City-meets-Merle-Haggard songwriting means that OHora’s songs feel deeply personal even while presented through the smooth sound of a bygone era.
Perhaps it’s a credit to his ability to imagine himself in any place or time. OHora is originally from New Hampshire, where he grew up playing music for worship meetings at his church. These evangelical meetings centered around improvisational music, intense prayer, and even speaking in tongues. “It was kind of like a cult, although I didn’t realize it at the time”, he says with a laugh. Leaving the church, OHora walked a winding path through his early 20s. “I experimented with psychedelics at the time, and after you have that first life changing trip, everything seems to take on a more surrealistic nature.” Listening to the LSD-inspired “Way Down in my Soul”, you can almost envision OHora floating through a 70’s country love affair.
“Zephaniah OHora’s This Highway just very well might be a modern classic country masterpiece.” – Saving Country Music
“You’ll swear he has stepped out of a bygone era with the way he effortlessly incorporates the classic Nashville Sound and Bakersfield honky tonk” – Michael Berick, Wide Open Country
“Channeling the country icons of decades past is something of a trend these days, but only a handful of artists are able to pull off such homage without devolving into mimicry. Brooklyn’s Zephaniah OHora is one of those artists.” – Brittney McKenna, American Songwriter
“A leading light of New York’s burgeoning roots country scene” – Alex Gallacher, FRUK
“Zephaniah Ohora has created an instant country classic for these modern times.” – Rob Ross, PopDose