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:

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.

I Forgot to Remember September

Actually, I’m taking the month off, thankfully. Teaching, recording, re-charging. Check back at some point in October!  Here are a couple scenes from my late August recording sabbatical at Uncle Tom’s Cabin (go ahead, laugh… everyone does) up in the woods.  It was blissful… both relaxing and productive.  Cheers – TzIMG_2241


August Discussed

simons sills flyer

Greetings all!  It’s shaping up to be a busy month in August.  A quick recap of the end of July first.  I played a great house concert at Pig & Weasel with my student/friend Alaina Stacey.  She is so talented and I was honored to be asked to be her accompanist for a special evening of music.  Hopefully we’ll have some video/audio highlights to share later this month.


Bhakti Fest in Madison with Mike Cohen‘s group was blissful.  The band included many singers, Stone Damon on drums, Steve Emmerman on bass, and Taz Rashid on percussion, among others.  Above is a panoramic shot of the action from the stage.

tz n td

Thomas Dunning’s HOOT NIGHT!  “Motown vs Broadway” wow!  Those who were there know what I exclaim about.  Incredible show.  “Sir Duke” is on YouTube done with an all-star band of Steve Frisbie, Gerald Dowd, Alton Smith & Jacqueline Schimmel.  Another on YouTube is with me sitting in on bass for Steve Frisbie, with Gerald Dowd for Steve’s Motown-take on “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”.  What a voice!  Speaking of voices… Phil Angotti did a great “Tracks of My Tears” and I also got to sit in with him for “Til There Was You”.  I played drums with Catherine Smitko & Jeff Kust for “Heaven on Their Minds” from Jesus Christ Superstar and “Superstition” (mashed up with Metallica, lol)  More video to come later in the month.  (and I’ll have to figure out how to link directly to video here on the site!)

Coming up in August… Lollapalooza!  I’m very blessed to be asked to sit in on bass with Jambo Steve Pierson’s group on the kid’s stage Friday & Saturday August 2nd & 3rd.  I fully plan to see some other acts including Queens of The Stone Age, The National, Band of Horses, and The Blisters (with Alaina Stacey guesting).

Sunday August 11th at Simons, 9pm Tommi Zender & Dave Sills Variety Hour (flyer at the top of this post) w/special guests Tim Mulvenna on percussion & Shana Gray on vocals.  We’ll do 2 sets featuring some of Dave’s songs, my songs, and select cover tunes.  No Cover!!!


Band on the Run presented by Phil Angotti & Friends, including Casey McDonough on bass, Erich McMann on guitars, Carolyn Engelmann on keys and yours truly on the drum set, and more!  Martyrs, Monday August 12th at 8pm.  Tickets are a mere $7.  We presented this album in it’s entirety back in the winter on one of the coldest days of the year at Reggie’s and the reaction was unanimous that we nailed it.  Here’s your chance to hear us do it again on the north side in warmer climes.

The Smiths Acoustic Ensemble and Art Rock Ensemble graduation performances will be on Sunday August 18th @ 909 Armitage location of Old Town School in the theater.  BYOB and no admission charge–come by if you like to see what Alton Smith, Bob Goins and I have been up to at the school with our talented students.  Exact times to be determined but between 4:30 pm and 7:30 is the likely window.

The second half of August will be dedicated to RECORDING.  In the works are a new ambient guitar album and a pop/rock EP of many songs I’ve been playing for years now but have not yet recorded proper.  More details as it unfolds this fall.  Thanks so much for reading and for supporting the arts/music I’m involved in.  Peace!