Friday Nights with Fleitz

ound 8 p.m., Zach Fleitz can be found entertaining the crowd at Hamilton’s own Barge Canal Café. Fleitz, a graduate of Hamilton High School and Berklee College of Music in Boston, performs using a combination of vocals, the open stringed electric guitar and his own fascinating musical invention called the Midi Wing Chun Dummy. Fleitz’s music may be difficult to categorize, but it is universally appealing and undoubtedly entertaining nonetheless. Fleitz himself struggles to label his sound.

“The best way to describe it is improvised new age. It has swell moods in its renaissance style; it’s like new age jazz,” Fleitz said. “It sounds kind of like progressivism.”

Fleitz’s show truly displays a wide array of his talents. He achieves a complex, layered sound by using equipment to record a base rhythm and then adding his vocals, guitar melodies and occasionally a performance on the Midi Wing Chun Dummy. Most people have never heard of such an instrument prior to attending Fleitz’s show, precisely because one has never existed before. For those who are unfamiliar with martial arts, the Wing Chun Dummy is a wooden log with movable pegs attached by chains to a ceiling, used for practicing the art of Wing Chun. Fleitz has ingeniously turned the dummy into both an instrument and a piece of performance art. The sound is unique, as is the visual of Fleitz in battle with the dummy. Fleitz is currently seeking a patent on the bizarre looking piece of equipment, which truly is the highlight of the show.

Fleitz’s songs have a smooth, mellow flow that works well with the ambiance of a Friday evening at the Barge after a long and stressful week. For a first time attendee like myself, it was easy to notice that Fleitz’s presence at the Barge was reminiscent of a jam session with friends, with frequent positive commentary from supporters in the audience and the Café staff, who are true fans of his music. Assistant manager Susan Pasachnik commented on Fleitz’s routine performances.

“We are please to have Zach return to share his amazing musical talent, from his open string electric bass to his Midi Wing Chun Dummy,” Pasachnick said.

Fleitz’s performance also benefits from the personal atmosphere of the Barge, allowing him to engage in frequent conversation with the audience and discuss interesting and often humorous insights into his music and life. For example, during a short intercession Fleitz described that a bad reaction to a spider bite he had suffered earlier in the day had prompted him to take Benadryl before the show causing him to be a bit woozy, which he admitted seemed to prove beneficial to his performance. He also enlightened the audience about a curious title to one of his original songs, “Linda’s Pterodactyl’s,” named after the consistent skyward bound look of terror on the face of a catatonic relative.

Zach Fleitz’s clear passion for music is evident in his performance, which seems to be just as much fun for him as it is for those of us in the audience. He divulged that the most rewarding part of being a musician comes from the thrill of performing and creating.

“It’s the thrill of being almost invincible. I’m not totally one hundred percent comfortable and I still get butterflies sometimes, but its rewarding to stumble on something new and great, it feels like finding a cure for a disease. Then the real task is to bring my comfort zone to the stage” Fleitz said.

What’s next for Zach Fleitz?

“Playing every coffee shop within a one hundred mile radius,” Fleitz said. Thankfully, those of us on the Colgate campus will not have to travel so far to be treated to his music.

Contact Kristen Robinson at [email protected].