RICK BROWN, Yard Light Media
KEARNEY – After 12 years, some members of Whiskey Bent have decided to retire from performing.
“Last summer some members of my band decided to slow down and not be on the road playing music,” said Tim Zach, founder of Whiskey Bent. “So we have closed this chapter of my musical career. My lead guitarist Joe Parr stayed with me and we just started playing last September.
Whiskey Bent played their last gig on August 21. After a two-week hiatus, Zach hired a new bassist, another guitarist, and a drummer and consolidated his musical endeavors under the name simply “Tim Zach”.
“We started performing under my name as a solo artist,” Zach said. “Last summer, before July, when we started playing as ‘Tim Zach,’ I went to Nashville to record an album. We released the first single from this record in September.
Country fans in central Nebraska can hear Tim Zach perform as part of Freedom Fest, presented by United Way of Kearney, Thursday at the Viaero Center. Music starts at 7 p.m. Julie Van Hoek, executive director of the United Way of Kearney, estimated that the fireworks will begin around 9:45 p.m., depending on weather conditions.
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Admission to the event is free. There is a separate charge for Cunningham’s beer garden. A $12 wristband will cover the rides offered by Rocket Rides.
Performing at an event that celebrates freedom resonates with Zach.
“I wrote a song called ‘Like Him’ about my grandfather who was a WWII veteran,” Zach said. “I often take off the week around the 4th of July, which is also a line from the song.”
Zach plans to perform Thursday in Kearney and July 1 in Hastings. That leaves him the weekend to spend with his family to honor Independence Day and what it means to him.
Hoek, who took office in May, sees Freedom Fest as a way to give back to the community.
“It’s for the community,” she said. “We want to celebrate their gift of power. For the 21 agencies we support, this is a big problem. Everything we earn from Freedom Fest goes to our 21 agencies.
For Zach, having the chance to contribute to the Freedom Fest festivities means a lot. He plans to play music from the band’s album, “The Good Life”, as well as older music.
“You will hear songs that are familiar to you,” he said. “We were lucky enough to get airplay on central Nebraska radio stations. “The Good Life” is probably my newest and most popular song that has been released. On top of that we’ll be playing covers that people will know from country artists like Eric Church, Johnny Cash, Diereks Bentley, Toby Keith and people like that.
Zach also promises to play lots of ’90s music – as well as music he recorded with Whiskey Bent.
“We just like having a good time,” he said. “Because this is the first year they’ve had live music at Freedom Fest, we’re excited to bring a little something extra to the day.”
For Zach, his career as a musician happened almost by accident. In high school, he sang for fun but mostly focused on sports. Friends convinced him to enter the “Colgate Country Showdown” singing contest in 2009. A demo tape landed him a live performance, earning him the title of “Nebraska’s Best New Country Actor.”
Zach’s run to the contest ended at a regional meet in Albuquerque, NM
“But that’s where my career as an artist was going to start,” he wrote in a press release.
Tim Zach formed Whiskey Bent in 2009. The band’s first gig was because the members paid a small bar in St. Libory $175 to rent the place. The band played a 45 minute set – playing every song they knew. From 2010 to 2021, Zach and Whiskey Bent shared the stage with national artists such as Jake Owen, Jimmie Allen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Diamond Rio, Blackhawk, Sawyer Brown and many more.
Zach’s current band ranges from 18 to 54.
The tour takes a lot of effort. Recently the band played one night in Verdigre near Yankton, SD and the following night in McCook – traveling almost 500 miles between. Although it takes a lot of effort, Zach still appreciates it.
“I really like playing live,” he said. “For me, going out and enjoying the festive atmosphere is worth it.”