The Bird Dogs aren’t the Everly Brothers — but then they’ve never pretended to be.The Bird Dogs are Zachary and Dylan Zmed, two brothers whose tight harmonies and acoustic guitars bring the familiar songs of the Everly Brothers to the stage. The brothers and their band play Saturday at the Clearwater River Casino in Lewiston.
We caught Zachary Zmed on the road by phone to find out a bit more about the duo:
360: How did you guys get started in music?
Zachary Zmed: Both of us are musical and grew up in a musical household. Our dad was a singer, a performer. And there was this time he was in a touring production of “Grease,” so we were on the road with him. We’d warm up with him backstage — in mocking fashion, of course — and we realized we could kind of sing. We didn’t make music together as brothers until three years ago. I have a music degree so I’d be writing and testing ideas and I’d always want a high harmony. So I asked Dylan. Gradually we started playing gigs together.
360: And how did you start doing the Everly Brothers?
ZZ: We were playing in a rock band that was more in the realm of Led Zeppelin. A lot of it was so loud, so pushed, that we kind of longed for playing music that was more pretty. Well, we grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Beatles and we wondered, what is this sound? Why do they sound like this? And it all led back to the Everly Brothers. So we started playing some of their songs. We sang a couple of them and people told us it sounded nice, it was tight and that the only way you could get that kind of sound was to be siblings.
360: One of the distinctives of the Everly Brothers style of music was their harmonizing. Did they come up with it or did they just make it popular?
ZZ: It was more that they made it popular. They were in the right place at the right time. That style of harmonizing was something you had a lot in country, but not in rock ‘n’ roll. They were the first group to meld elements of country with rock ‘n’ roll.
360: What kind of impact did their music make? And do you still hear their sound, their influence, in music being made today?
ZZ: The music of The Beatles, Paul Simon, the Hollies, Crosby, Stills and Nash — the Everly Brothers directly influenced the next generation. Anytime you hear a close harmony with a more stripped-down sound you kind of hear it. Even if people don’t know they’ve been influenced by them, they have been.
360: What is your show like?
ZZ: It’s a very pleasant show, you can bring families to it. And even if you don’t know the Everly Brothers you’ll know the songs.
360: Do you stay pretty true to the music of Everly Brothers, or do you do your own variations and songs?
ZZ: We’re trying our best to be faithful to the original recordings. That comes down to instruments, the amps, really making sure the parts are all there. We wanted to be as meticulous as they were.
360: How much do you resemble the Everly Brothers?
ZZ: We don’t sound like them. My brother and I sound like us. When we get on stage, we’re not Don and Phil, we’re ourselves.
360: Do you do any original songs?
ZZ: We’ll do a couple songs the Everly Brothers never did — ones like Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” — and doing them in the Everly Brothers style. I’ve written some original songs that we do in the Everly Brothers style — that’s just one song, though.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: “The Bird Dogs Presents: The Everly Brothers Experience”
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Clearwater River Casino, east of Lewiston
COST: $20; tickets can be purchased in advance at the casino box office or at ticketswest.com