To listen to Horizons by Bob Zentz, click below.
By Peter Vankevich
If you have attended any of the annual Ocrafolk Festivals that began in 2000, you may have caught a show by Bob Zentz. He has performed at every one.
“Ocracoke is a magical place, a great place to perform and record music,” he said in an interview.
The Ocrafolk Festival, held the first full weekend in June, is one of his favorite venues to perform. In fact, Bob coined the word Ocrafolk when he and Gary Mitchell, the founder and director, were on the Cedar Island ferry back to the island from recording Bobs’s concert in Beaufort in the late 1990s and discussing the planning stages.
For Bob, it is not only a wonderful mix of performers that Gary Mitchell chooses every year, but also the appreciative audience, many of whom also return year after year.
“I have kept in touch with many by email over the years,” he said about his festival fans.
In addition to performing on stage, for the past couple of years he has coordinated the musicians’ workshop stage which permits performers to interact at an intimate level with the audience who can ask questions and talk with the performers.
Running the musicians workshops is the perfect fit. Not only is he a gifted songwriter and performer, but he also is a teacher and mentor at heart. “Informances” is a term he coined about his way of imparting music information to younger generations.
Bob is noted in his hometown area as the person who “put the folk in Norfolk.”
For nearly 25 years, his Ramblin’ Conrad’s Guitar Shop & Folklore Center was the unofficial folk center of Virginia’s Tidewater region. There, one could buy acoustic instruments, traditional music recordings and sheet music. It was also a concert venue where many of the world’s finest folk musicians performed.
The Ramblin’ Conrad’s experience was also on public radio WHRO-FM, which broadcast his show “In The Folk Tradition,” from 1977 to 2004. The name derives from William Conrad Buhler, a down-on-his-luck man who Bob and two friends met one night back in 1965 and helped him establish a performing career. Conrad has been described as a veteran, a wino, a handyman, an ex-con, a backstreet minstrel and a bar-room troubadour.
Bob plays many instruments including guitar, autoharp, lute, melodeon, mouth harp, banjo, concertina and mandolin.
Among this large repertory of songs are many historical songs of the sea and sea shanties.
A consummate performer, he has dedicated his life to presenting, performing and introducing traditional music to those who are already fans, and, importantly, to those unaware of its existence.
Click start to listen to Horizons.