Mind the Gap!

Darn it.  I let this place go, yet again.  The last 4-5 months of 2015 were fantastic.  Highlights included a wonderful vacation in the woods of Wisconsin & Minnesota with family, a well-attended George Harrison Tribute concert at City Winery with Phil Angotti, Casey McDonough & friends (on drums) a performance at Beatlefest, a show playing with Razorhouse & Tomorrow The Moon, lots of solo gigs at Hyatt, etc etc.

In September I had surgery for a deviated septum and recovery period.  Following that we played a really big show for John Lennon’s 75th Birthday at Old Town School of Folk Music in Maurer Hall.  Almost sold the place out… it was a great night of music for all.  The fall also featured shows with Lara Filip, Everly Brothers with Tom Ryan at Halloween, The Beatles Social at OTS, Razorhouse, Hyatt, Holiday show with Rachel Drew & Co, and a last show of the year with Phil Angotti doing John Lennon Show highlights.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 12.11.24 PM.png


Shows in July & August, 2015!


Saturday July 25 @ Old Town School of Folk Music, 8pm.  

Phil Angotti & Tommi Zender perform Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” & “Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme” LPs in entirety with bonus tracks.  Featuring Tom Ryan on bass, Alton Smith on keyboards, Rebekah Abel on horns, percussion, and Jim Barclay on drums.  (art by Tom McKeon)

Ticket link below:



Monday July 13 @ Martyrs, 8PM

One night only!!!  Alton Smith leads the Great Moments in Vinyl show performing Elton John’s “Tumbleweed Connection” and “Madman Across The Water” LPs in entirety, plus bonus tracks (with Richard Pettingill on guitars, Lindsey Cochran on bass, Debbie Kaczynski on keys/vocals, Tommi Zender on drums/vocals/guitars, Peter Manis on more drums, a string section & more).



I have some Hyatt Lounge dates in July.  Message me if you’d like to know when!


Also… Saturday August 1st @ Martyrs I will play electric guitars & sing with art rock group Razorhouse opening for Tomorrow The Moon for their album release show.  (I will also play some guest guitar for a few tunes in the TTM set).  This will be one mighty rock show.

Fri Aug 7th @ Old Town School SUMMERTIME BEATLES SOCIAL, 7:30pm

Sun Aug 9th @ Old Town School FRETBOARD GEOGRAPHY WORKSHOP, 2pm

Advance signup online (oldtownschool.org) or in person, or via phone 773-728-6000

House Concert at Pig & Weasel Sunday June 14th

Tz w train hat and candle

Sunday June 14th @ 3:30 PM I’m very excited to finally get to play my own full concert in this fine listening environment.  It’ll be 2 sets featuring multi-percussionist Tim Mulvenna, the Clarinet Vendetta trio under direction of Christie Miller, and accompaniment from singer/songwriters Dave Sills, Rachel Drew, and more!

Located in Skevanston (that’s near the Skokie/Evanston border off Dempster) Todd, Monica & Chris have been presenting performances in their fine space under the moniker Pig & Weasel for a few years now.  There is row seating, a nice stage, lighting, and often featured artwork on the walls.  It’s BYOB, with some snacks & beer/wine on hand, and a downstairs gathering area for before show, break between sets, and afterward.

Reservations are needed to ensure seating, and can be done through contacting: thepigandweasel@gmail.com

If you have been thinking of attending one of my shows, make it this one!

Spring 2015

Tommi Zender with Phil Angotti, Michael Franzen & Don Cooper.  IPO Phoenix 2015 (photo by CowGirlZen)

Tommi Zender with Phil Angotti, Michael Franzen & Don Cooper. IPO Phoenix 2015 (photo by CowGirlZen)

Finally!  A recap of some of what’s been up, and a preview of what’s to come.

January included a Paul McCartney tribute show at Martyrs in Chicago, played with Phil Angotti, Casey McDonough, Jim Barclay, Alton Smith (and the horns of Rebecca Abel & Wally Rozak).  There’s a video up on Youtube for “Call Me Back Again”.  I also accompanied my friend Karen Stocker at a packed-house show at Uncommon Ground on Clark St. which was special as it was her first real big show.  Congratulations Karen!  The new school year at Old Town School started up with a bang as our Art Rock Ensemble & Beatles Acoustic classes keep rolling along.


Tz, Casey McDonough, & Phil Angotti at Martyrs for a Paul McCartney tribute show (photo by Elizabeth Pratt)

March included a trip with Phil Angotti out to my other home-town of Phoenix Arizona to play a couple shows, visit family & friends, see some baseball & soak up the warmth.  I was honored to get to play (for the first time in 2 decades) with my childhood bandmates Don Cooper & Michael Franzen.  They were also kind enough to be the rhythm section for Phil & I in our electric sets at IPO.   I also had the pleasure of drumming for my friend Steven Wilson/Plasticsoul from LA during his set.  Rounding out March I performed with Lara Filip/Birdie Wing (album release forthcoming this year).  I also did some studio work at Kingsize, & also played a fantastic kirtan concert with Saul David Raye at Moksha Yoga.

Phil Angotti & Tommi Zender at IPO Phoenix (photo by CowGirlZen)

Phil Angotti & Tommi Zender & Don Cooper on drums at IPO Phoenix (photo by CowGirlZen)

Tz drumming for Plasticsoul (Steven Wilson's group from LA) at IPO Phoenix 2015

Tz drumming for Plasticsoul (Steven Wilson’s group from LA) at IPO Phoenix 2015 (photo by CowGirlZen)


Kirtan at Moksha with Saul David Raye (pano foto by Tz)


Tz performing with Lara Filip and Shannon Green-Robb (Birdie Wing) at Uncommon Ground Clark St, Chicago

April highlights included a Laurie’s Planet of Sound (Record Store Day) performance of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme” album in it’s entirety by Phil Angotti, Casey McDonough & myself.  We hope to present the LP again in a listening room later this year.  I played my second ever ‘marriage proposal’.  Not your typical gig. She said yes!   My monthly gigs at Hyatt lounge continue to go well–it’s a great chance to sing/play a wide variety of songs in a comfortable space.  The end of April included great end of session performances by the Beatles Acoustic & Art Rock classes.

Phil Angotti, Tommi Zender & Casey McDonough play Simon & Garfunkel for Record Store Day 2015

Phil Angotti, Tommi Zender & Casey McDonough play Simon & Garfunkel for Record Store Day 2015 (photo by Matt Greenberger)

May started off with a bang as I did a Tommi Zender & Friends variety show at one of our favorite Chicago places Simon’s Tavern.  Multi-percussionist Tim Mulvenna was my featured accompanist and we had very special guests join us including Dave Sills, Christie Miller (heading a clarinet trio!) Lara Filip, and 3 of my students Elizabeth Silk, Ken Jones, and Rachel Swanson.  It was a great night of music and everyone agreed… the clarinets were a major highlight.  I stopped by to hear Phil Angotti at Hideout playing a tribute to The Kinks and ended up sitting in for a couple songs.

tz at Simons

Tz at Simon’s (photo by Jill Leahy)


Tz at Simon’s Tavern (photo by David Sameshima)


Phil Angotti’s Kinks tribute at Hideout, Chicago

The rest of the month includes hosting The “Springtime Beatles” Social at Old Town School (the Fretboard Geography workshop Sunday 5/17 however is postponed)  I’ll also be at Hyatt a couple times this month (contact me if you are interested in dates/times).  Cheers!

November 2014 shows

I’ll be performing at Act One Pub/Mayne Stage in Rogers Park Sunday November 2nd at 9pm.  This show will likely be a good mix of cover songs and some of my own.  They have a great drink selection, and great food (at least early in my set).  There is no cover charge.

Tz w harmonica slide razorhouse yoga benefit

The picture above is from a Yoga Recovery benefit show this past month with the band Razorhouse, taken by Michael Sullivan.  They were able to raise a lot of funds for their cause, which is taking yoga classes to women’s penitentiaries.

Saturday November 15th @ Uncommon Ground (Clark St) I’ll play a solo set at 8pm.  After that I’ll join super-talented singer/songwriter Lara Filip’s Birdie Wing for a set, playing guitar, percussion, singing, whatever.  This will be my first proper solo set of original music in a “listening room” in quite a while, and the last one of 2014.  Birdie Wing’s music is produced by Liam Davis (Frisbie, Justin Roberts).  Dinner reservations are recommended for priority seating.  UG has food/drink available.  There will not be a Cubs game.


Cheers to the feeling of a well-attended, well-played show!

Thanks to everyone who came out to hear Phil Angotti & Friends “An Evening of John Lennon” at the City Winery.  We sold out the wine-pairing tickets (which we were told “has never happened yet”) and were probably 20-30 folks shy of selling out the evening.  We hope to perform it again sometime soon for all those who missed it.  Some photos by Lee Klawans and Dann Morr:




Soundboard Audio clip of “#9 Dream/Mind Games”

Next up… An Evening of Paul McCartney with Phil Angotti, Tommi Zender, Steve Dawson, Carolyn Engelmann, and Casey McDonough, Saturday Oct 12th, 8PM @ Old Town School of Folk Music



(drawing by Phil Angotti)

Hello! Is It Me You’re Looking For?


Long time, no update. Here’s the Reader’s Digest scoop. I continue to enjoy my work teaching privately at my studio & my classes at Old Town School. I still teach and play with a rotating solo Beatle acoustic ensemble at the school (currently session 1 of George Harrison, of which there will be 2) and my long-running Art Rock Ensemble (team-coached with the multi-talented Bob Goins) continues to grow & amaze. I maintain 2-3 core guitar classes at the school as well. And I’ve had the pleasure of sub-teaching many classes, most notably Steve Dawson’s long-running Songwriting class on Sunday.

I’ve been rehearsing, performing, recording in the studio, playing & enjoying family life, sports, books, & other people’s music. As far as ‘music career’ touchstones in the past 10 months I have had the pleasure of playing wonderful music with the likes of Phil Angotti & friends, a brief but educational stint with The Cheetles, Lara Filip’s “Birdie Wing” project (produced by Liam Davis), Mark William Johnson (a musician friend I have been playing on/off with for 25 years now) Dave Sills, Paul Maich (a record being produced by Anne Heaton, engineered by Dan Glomski) Ross Freeman (record being produced by Steve Dawson) Bill Brickey & Alton Smith’s children/adult projects, and most recently filling the electric guitar/backing vocal roll in a newer Art Rock group called Razorhouse (fronted by writer Mark Panick) and many others I’m probably forgetting. A digital painting by the great artist Tom McKeon is pictured above from my first Razorhouse show at Mayne Stage Theater this past week. Cheers! I’ll try to get back in the swing of updating here regularly again, in time.