March 21, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 35°F


Yardvarks inspired by classic rock

With its eclectic mix of folk and rock, and a repertoire that includes a sing-along, local band The Yardvarks promises a lively performance that always gets audience members involved.

Contributing writer Andrew Longcore spoke with Ken Zeserson, guitarist and saxophonist, about the band’s inspirations.

Andrew Longcore: How did your band get its name?

Ken Zeserson: We’ve been tossing around the idea of a name for the band for quite some time. Someone threw out the name “Aardvarks” [in an e-mail] … but it was misspelled with a “Y” in front of it, and someone said, “Oh, that must be it.” [It was] like a sign from above.

AL: What type of music do you play?

KZ: It’s basically the Kingston Trio on drugs. I would call it sort of folky, you know rock ’n’ roll on the periphery. We are a semi-acoustic band with an electric guitar, acoustic guitar, stand- up base, and I also play tenor saxophone. We try to model our music off of The Beatles and other English rockers — some Joni Mitchell, some Neil Young.

AL: What’s your favorite music style?

KZ: It’s hard to say because each member of the band has different tastes. We love the feel of [Neil Young’s] music. We also love The Beatles and Elvis Costello. We try and cover a lot of their music.

AL: How long has everyone in the band been playing?

KZ: Probably 200 years between all of us. I’ve been playing off and on in bands and in my living room for about 45 years. John [Simon] has been playing for about 40 years, Tom [Farrell] has been playing for 30 and Eric [Ott] has been playing for 35. So definitely a long time. We’re all in different bands throughout the town.

AL: What other groups do The Yardvarks’ bandmates play with?

KZ: Tom plays for a great bluegrass-style band, Saddly Hill. John and I play for Radio London, which is more of a British rock band. I also play tenor saxophone, so I’m in a couple of jazz bands. [One is called] The Romantics, which [plays] more slow and smooth jazz. And Eric is in The Lost Sailors.

AL: Do you get inspiration from things in your life other than music?

KZ: I’m a father, a husband and I love running. I’m big on physical fitness, but that’s just me. All the members of the band bring something of their own.

The Yardvarks will perform from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at the Hardwerker Gallery.