Christian Coleman and The Blue Zen Band find solace in the blues

Autumn Thatcher Athatcher@nowsaltlake.com

Published April 13th 2012 12:03 pm



Christian Coleman has been a very busy man for the past 20 years. After falling in love with blues music at a young age, Coleman dedicated his time to learning and eventually creating his own style of blues. These days Coleman is playing around Salt Lake as the frontman for Christian Coleman and The Blue Zen Band. When he and his three bandmates aren't performing or practicing, Coleman is working as the music director for the Hive Gallery.

Blues music isn't prevalent in Salt Lake, so we thought it would be a good idea to get to know Coleman and his Blue Zen Band a little better. Listening to his music, it is obvious that the band has truly captured the essence of good blues music. The guitar solos are accompanied by lonely sounds echoing from the keys and sexy beats by the drums that capture your attention and transport you back in time to a smoky bar in Chicago, allowing the music to make you feel every emotion on the rawest level.

We ask Coleman to tell us a bit about his band, what inspired him to form it and why you should check it out.

How long has Christian Coleman and The Blue Zen Band been making music?

I've been making music as a solo artist and in a variety of bands for over 20 years. All the experience I have acquired helped inform this project, and created a strong foundation that has launched this band forward in the short time we have been playing together. There have been prototypes of this band since 2010, but it really blossomed in the last year, after meeting Omar, Joe and Mills.

How did you come up with the band name?

It's a name I've been saving until the right moment for around 15 to 20 years. I was listening to blues music before I even knew it, through '60s and '70s rock bands like Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin. When I discovered Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Elmore James, it was like "Wow!", such a powerful awakening. It changed everything within me, and the blues became my passion and my cause. Then in my youth, when I had more time to read, I discovered the Tao Te Ching. I never meditated or did yoga, but the Tao really registered with me. It just made sense, so I fused the two, Blues and Zen, and that came to represent my philosophy.

What makes The Blue Zen Band different from other local bands?

Bands are like snowflakes, no two are the same, but I will say, I never hear any local bands that sound like us. We play with an intensity that is our trademark and treat every gig with the reverence that it deserves, as if it was our last. I think our passion, desire and love for playing sets us apart.

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Christian Coleman has been a very busy man for the past 20 years. After falling in love with blues music at a young age, Coleman dedicated his time to learning and eventually creating his own style of blues. These days Coleman is playing around Salt Lake as the frontman for Christian Coleman and The Blue Zen Band. When he and his three bandmates aren't performing or practicing, Coleman is working as the music director for the Hive Gallery.

Blues music isn't prevalent in Salt Lake, so we thought it would be a good idea to get to know Coleman and his Blue Zen Band a little better. Listening to his music, it is obvious that the band has truly captured the essence of good blues music. The guitar solos are accompanied by lonely sounds echoing from the keys and sexy beats by the drums that capture your attention and transport you back in time to a smoky bar in Chicago, allowing the music to make you feel every emotion on the rawest level.

We ask Coleman to tell us a bit about his band, what inspired him to form it and why you should check it out.

How long has Christian Coleman and The Blue Zen Band been making music?

I've been making music as a solo artist and in a variety of bands for over 20 years. All the experience I have acquired helped inform this project, and created a strong foundation that has launched this band forward in the short time we have been playing together. There have been prototypes of this band since 2010, but it really blossomed in the last year, after meeting Omar, Joe and Mills.

How did you come up with the band name?

It's a name I've been saving until the right moment for around 15 to 20 years. I was listening to blues music before I even knew it, through '60s and '70s rock bands like Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin. When I discovered Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Elmore James, it was like "Wow!", such a powerful awakening. It changed everything within me, and the blues became my passion and my cause. Then in my youth, when I had more time to read, I discovered the Tao Te Ching. I never meditated or did yoga, but the Tao really registered with me. It just made sense, so I fused the two, Blues and Zen, and that came to represent my philosophy.

What makes The Blue Zen Band different from other local bands?

Bands are like snowflakes, no two are the same, but I will say, I never hear any local bands that sound like us. We play with an intensity that is our trademark and treat every gig with the reverence that it deserves, as if it was our last. I think our passion, desire and love for playing sets us apart. [2] =>

Describe the songwriting process. What inspires your lyrics?

Throughout my day-to-day life I constantly store ideas. When I sit around and noodle on my guitar, music ideas and lyric ideas will fuse together. When it's time to make a recording, the process becomes writing, rewriting, polishing and completing. I must admit that a deadline is very helpful for me. The writing process can be laborious but, sometimes I'm just lucky and a good, complete idea comes to me over morning coffee or while daydreaming.

Why should someone check out Christian Coleman and The Blue Zen Band?

This band is all about giving the people what they want, and giving them their money's worth. We like to have fun and we love to play. We know a lot of songs, so no two shows are ever going to be the same. Blues and rock 'n' roll are exponents of jazz, America's true, original art form. At their best, they're exciting, spontaneous and electrifying. We're doing our part to keep the blues alive.

How would you describe a live show?

No messin' around! We start early, play long sets and have to make an effort to stop at a reasonable time, so the bar can close. Our sets are designed to take you on a boogie, blues and rock 'n' roll journey. We play an energetic show that solo features everyone in the band and our mission is to move the audience. Nothing is more fulfilling than playing to a full room of people dancing to the blues.

What opportunities have you had as a result of your music?

Music gives you a chance to visit new places and experience new things. I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in a lot of the western states including California and Texas. I've played festivals and coffee shops, bars and living rooms, on the street and I've even become the music director at The Hive Gallery, but the most important thing music has given me is people. I've met more great people through playing music, and that's something you can't replace.

What do you see for the future of Christian Coleman and The Blue Zen Band?

I see a long, prosperous and fulfilling road ahead for The Blue Zen Band. I plan on electrifying shows, outstanding people and great new records. In 20-plus years, when I look over to my left, I plan to see Joe Vee, Mills and Omar, laying it down, playing the music we love! Keep on Bluezen!

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