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An Odd Combination

quirky songwriter Dan Zerr releases solo debut

Allison Puestow, photos by Andrea Paulseth

STRUMMING WITH THE LIMBS. Local musician Dan Zerr can be seen performing with local bands like Eggplant Heroes, but has finally released a solo album.
STRUMMING WITH THE LIMBS. Local musician Dan Zerr can be seen performing with local bands like Eggplant Heroes, but has finally released a solo album.

Guacamole, Macaroni & Cheese. Yup, you read that right. Not only is this one of the most unusual food combos I’ve ever heard of, but it’s also the title of Dan Zerr’s debut solo album.

Where in the world did this combination come from? Zerr said, “I had made some guacamole and I thought ‘I need to have something with that’ and the only thing I had in the fridge was some leftover mac ’n’ cheese. And I warmed it up and it was like ‘Huh, this really works kind of well together!’ ”

The odd fusion of flavors extends into his choice of musical genres for his work. On his album, there’s a funk song, a blues tune, a couple of ballads, a couple of folky things, and a reggae-flavored song. Many of his songs are influenced by what he listened to growing up. “You wouldn’t think it all goes together very well, but it kinda does,” he said.

By day, Zerr is a natural resource educator working through the UW-Extension system, but music has always been a passion of his. “The first band I was in I was 24, I think, back in South Dakota,” he said. But this was the first time Zerr has had the opportunity to record his own original material. Some of his songs on his album go back some 20 odd years to when he first started playing.

When creating his album, there was quite a bit of collaboration with friends and family members. His daughter designed the cover art; if you look closely at it, you can see some macaroni and cheese noodles that she faded into the prairie. She also took the picture that serves as the back cover. Zerr’s girlfriend did background vocals for several of the songs as well as some ukulele parts. His older brother even traveled over from North Carolina to do all the bass work.

Although he’s not doing many live performances of his own work, you can catch Zerr playing with the local band, the Eggplant Heroes, as well as some duet work with his girlfriend called Secondhand Hearts. But, now that he has his album out, Zerr hopes to have an easier time finding gigs for his solo work.

In the future, Zerr does hope to record another album. This time, he would like to write more songs from a different perspective than his own and explore a few other genres. He admitted that, “I have the bug now. It’s kinda like, ‘Wow, I did this. It was fun. I wanna do it again!’ ”

Looking to get some Guacamole, Macaroni & Cheese for yourself? The CD is available at The Local Store at Volume One World Headquarters (205 N. Dewey St.), Revival Records, and at Schmitt Music. You can also buy it online at CDBaby.com.