Meet the Band…

Well we are almost two weeks away from the show, and I wanted to introduce some really talented musicians I’ll be working with for our upcoming show at the Smith Center in Las Vegas.  So today I’ll start with Mr. Dan Aakhus.  I was introduced to Dan a couple months ago by a music colleague and friend Johnny J. Rivera, whom I’ve also had the privilege playing with at a couple of my shows.  I rehearsed with Dan last week and I was blown away at how awesome he was.  He doesn’t play a ton right now as he works as a Physical Therapist, and can’t commit to constant shows and touring, so I feel lucky that we get him…here’s a little more about the man.

Dan Aakhus is a Las Vegas based musician with many years of experience playing lounges and showrooms. A graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Dan has been the musical director for lounge acts and shows including ‘Island Magic’ which played at the Sahara Hotel and Casino for many years. Many years ago he was musical director for a show called ‘Excitement ’79’ featuring an up an coming young impressionist named Danny Gans. More recently Dan has helped arrange and produce tracks on Johnny j Rivera’s CD ‘Trying To Catch Rain’. Dan is a Board Certified Orthopedic Physical Therapist. He is married with two beautiful children, Danny and Annie.

“Keyboards are my bag baby…”


I’ve been working on our upcoming show today and I’m completely stoked to officially have Matt Trygg on board for vocals.  If you don’t know who Matt is here is a youtube video of us bumming around in the studio… He and I will be getting together to rehearse next month for this show at The Smith Center.  Here’s another track of him singing “Back at One”… Super killer voice!  I’d hop on getting tickets if you haven’t yet, since the venue is nice and cozy…not a lot of seats in the house.

I’d love to write more but its one of those days where I’m jamming through to get shhhtuff done.  Til next time!  Peace my friends.

Ashton Z.

Takin’ Over Me

I’v been working over the last couple of days to pull together all the musicians for our upcoming show at the Smith’s Center for The Rape Crises Center benefit, called “Takin’ Over Me” titled after a jazz song I wrote back in 2009. Just a few days ago I met with Bart Doerfler, who directed our last shows “Love and Other Obsessions”, and he was getting goose bumps while we sat together and created the set list, and the flow of the show, which he is brilliant at doing.  I love our time working together.  He has been so generous to donate his time and talents for the show, and for the RCC.  We are taking the audience back to the old Hollywood Jazz and socialite scene…think Audrey Hepburn, Sinatra, Cary Grant, Ella Fitzgerald.  We’d love for guests to throw on their favorite cocktail dress or suit and add to the scene we hope to recreate of the old, as we infuse a little bit of the new as well.  The “new” I won’t give away right now, but be prepared for it.  You can buy tickets at www.thesmithcenter.com If you wish to donate to the Rape Crises Center, you can purchase the special rate ticket at $75, which can also be used as at tax right off and offers you a pre-show cocktail party, or you purchase a regular ticket price which is around $28 on the website.  The room is small and cozy so you will want to jump on getting tickets asap, but rest assured that there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.

This week I an working to pull all of the charts and audio together for the band, and get that in the mail.  This show is totally different than anything I’ve ever done…its a challenge, and exciting to take on.  I’m looking forward to taking a different performance roll than I’ve ever done.  So stay tuned my friends.


Hey everyone…so I just finished my latest article on Randy Cooke, Pro drummer.  Very cool hang with Randy, and you can check out the article at roqzine.com, but here is the link to be specific…http://www.roqzine.com/2012/04/12/behind-the-beat-featuring-international-drummer-randy-cooke/

In addition to that we are starting the prep work for our Jazz show in Vegas at the Smith Center in September.  I’m really excited about this new show, and the chance to get to work with Bart http://www.bartdoerfler.com to set a new show again.  I’m also excited to say that we may have my friend Matt Trygg at the show, an amazing R&B singer/writer…wonderful talent…beautiful tenor voice, as my counter to the show.  This is going to be a show you won’t want to miss for sure.  Tickets are available at http://www.smithcenter.com What an amazing experience to work with such wonderful people!!!!  That’s all I’m going to share now because it’s Cinco De Mayo, and I’ve got to get to the Guacamole tonight before it’s too late! =0)  Cheers my friends, and stay tuned for more updates!

Much love,



The song "Fabulous"

Just wanted to thank everyone who made Saturday nights show a total blast!  We not only had a sold out show, but people were wanting to buy tickets at the door to stand in the theater.  I can’t thank everyone enough…your ticket purchase makes it possible to have such a great amount of musicians on stage.  We had nine players….guest violin, cello, drums, percussion, bass, guitar, classical guitar…the works.  We hope to do the same thing in Salt Lake City on March 10th…which is nearly three weeks away.  If you are reading this and in the Salt Lake City area…don’t delay, and pick up your tickets at http://www.ashtonzyer.com on the front page.  I will also have Mikey Clark joining us for this show (we started our music careers together in a little square rehearsal room in Westlake Village)….and possibly a harpist.  We will see though…that is not confirmed, but would be really interesting if it happens!

It looks like we may be playing in Pontiac, Ill on May 5th.  I’m excited to see those details come together, and to do some good fundraising work with the local high school for their band program.  There’s nothing better than doing those shows.  Pontiac is ironically 15 min. away from where my grandmother (recently deceased) was born and raised.  It will be a great time going back to her stomping grounds to play a show.  She always loved music.  I remember her home always had some type of background music going and she loved to hum! Yup, she’s a hummer…I’m not quite a hummer…but I do giggle when I’m around serious hummers!  I don’t know why……my mom’s a hummer and my dad’s a whistler.  Get the two in a room and you think you are going crazy.

Two songs are done…”Near You”, and “Gotta give you away”.  I hope to play them in SLC and see how that goes.  Looking forward to putting it together with the band.  Had a great meeting with Glenn at the Smith Center yesterday and Bart & Michael as well regarding our Jazz Cabaret show in September….this is going to be smokin’!  I really hope we can do this for the Rape Crises Center.  It would be great to be able to partner with them to help them raise some money for local men and women in Las Vegas.  Hopefully we will see soon.

I promise to be better at posting.  I’m a little embarrassed it’s been nearly a month and a half!  Dang…just got lost for awhile I guess. =)


Hey everyone…I’m happy to say that Eden’s Angel is ready for you to sample.  I want to thank everyone who has been involved in helping to get this ready for our campaign.  I hope we are able to make a difference in some way with this song.  It all depends on you the listener, and your willingness to share it with friends, and those you care about. 

I’ve created a special slide show with the song that you can watch by clicking onto this link www.indiegogo.com/edens-angel-project Thank you in advance for all of your support.  I hope you like this song.  This was one of the first songs I officially wrote and recorded way back in the day.  At the time it was just a simple piano and guitar piece that Dave Rosa produced.  Since then I’ve gone back and lowered the song, added strings, lots of backgrounds, bass…and whatever else I could do to give it the feel and vibe the song deserves.  I’m so happy to have the song used for such a great cause….though a small ordeal to some, it means a lot to me. 

I am wrapping up the two songs I’ve been working on for the last little bit.  I just need to finalize my bridge ideas.  I get a little ADD while I’m working on both and I end up not really getting to the end because once one song gets tough I hop to the other one.  I should probably just stick to the one until I am done with it.  Creative avoidance….this is what’s really going on!

Well…gotta run thanks again for checking this out, and being willing to consider sending it to your family and friends!

Much love,


This week a dear friend lost her daughter in a dating violence dispute.  I was devastated to hear about the beating she took, and then the shot to the face that ended her life.  She was 22 years old.  I’ve worked with victims of domestic and dating violence for years, as well as those who abuse in the prison systems.  There’s nothing I loathe more than people who use violence to control.  This comes in all sorts of ways.  Most people see partner violence as being manifested physically.  It’s the emotional battering that is so cunning and sly, that leaves wounds far worse than what physical wounds can do, and I have zero patience for it.   If only she had been taught how to recognize people who would manipulate, charm, or try to control her, things could have been different.  Unfortunately so many women and men out there don’t know how to recognize destructive patterns in someone they are seeing, and even worse…in themselves…or what it really means to be healthy in a relationship, in addition to understanding what healthy conflict resolution should look like.  Most people react in relationships based on the reality they have experienced, or from people who have influenced them that they give sanction to.  The problem is, if those people don’t really know what healthy should look like either, then you have a classic tale of the blind leading the blind.  I’ve spent years studying, and attending conferences, giving conferences on abuse, and am surprised how many people know very little about how to truly be healthy in a relationship.  If you haven’t invested time in studying what healthy looks like, there’s no time like the present.  There are some great reads out there about healthy conflict resolution, as this is the most important skill one can posses in a relationship.  Learning how to resolve conflict without using  manipulation whether it’s physical, verbal, or emotional is huge!  It’s also important to learn how to be vulnerable while expressing pain and frustration, which sometimes happens in relationships, trusting that your partner will hear your heart and not make the conflict about them, while they defend themselves or manipulate to avoid the pain that shame brings.  If you are saying to yourself…”What makes you the expert?”, I applaud you for being skeptical.  I mean, what makes me right?  I may not be… but just maybe, I know quite a bit about this after working with over 20,000 teens and adults regarding relationship violence, training them, and hearing their stories.  It is because of this work I am cautious, slow to move, and hyper observant.  If I don’t share the same sentiments with others on how conflict should be resolved I have learned to walk away.  So for my friend I wanted to post this song I wrote for those who suffer from abuse.  If everyone could rest for one day, without fear of being hurt, or killed…that truly would be something to celebrate this season….hope you enjoy!

P.S.  I know I promised the release of the song Eden’s Angel sooner than later, but I’ve gotten a bit delayed after getting feedback from a few people, including Ajay the producer I work with that the track is a bit too wet, or in other words, has too much reverb on it.  Once we started to take the reverb off of the track, we noticed some problems with the track…mainly the guitars, and strings with the new mix we wanted to create.  It looks like it needs to be re-tracked for that new mix, and bass added. Oh well…you win some you lose some.  It should be pretty simple to re-create the track and then work a new mix.  No disrespect to Talbot, he did a nice job.  I just think the track needs a different mix at this point, which happens often in the production world.   So back to the drawing board.  Maybe we will release it next week!

Happy Holidays,