Zen Black keeps playing on

February 19, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

BALTIMORE - The guys knew something was wrong when Zen Black producer and frontman Lawrence Elliott "JR" Black Jr. never showed up for a afternoon recording session on Saturday, Feb. 7.

"It's just not like him to miss something, anything having to with recording," drummer Brian McClure said. Especially with an album release show set for March 7 at Sonar in Baltimore.

McClure and the guys were right.

Black had been in a serious car accident in Howard County early that morning. He couldn't make it because he was in the hospital in critical condition.

Faced with the tough decision to keep the March 7 gig without their main vocalist or cancel the show altogether - or worse still, break up - Hagerstown-based Zen Black chose to perform in Black's honor.


"Even with as much emotions going around right now, we're still hoping to put on a good show," McClure said.

Zen Black will perform Saturday for an all-ages show on Sonar's Club Stage. Foretold, a thrash-metal band from Sykesville, Md., and Zen Black's spoof band, The Dictators, are also in the lineup.

According to Howard County Police, Black, 26, drove off the road and hit a guardrail Howard County while driving on Md. 32 at around 2:45 a.m. He wasn't wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car, police said. He had to be flown to University, Maryland's Medical Center's Shock Trauma Center.

McClure said the band was informed by one of Black's family members later that day. They've since been to the hospital to visit Black.

Still, even with their frontman in the hospital, there are no signs the guys plan to break up anytime soon. McClure said Black would want them to do the show.

"There've been other bands who've seen worse challenges," McClure said. "Nobody has intentions of leaving or the band breaking up."

McClure said the concert was supposed to be the exciting debut of a band reinvented. They had a new bass player and were planning to unveil their latest, self-produced album, which was nearly finished at the time of Black's accident.

But the plans for a new record are on hold, McClure said, as is a promotional tour this summer.

At the concert, Zen Black will perform nine of the new songs. Bandmates will split time between taking on the singing duties and doing some songs as instrumentals, McClure said.

"No one can take his place as a singer," McClure said.

Zen Black

Genre - Metal "with a groove"

Hometown - Washington County region

Upcoming performance - Saturday, March 7, at Sonar, 407 E. Saratoga St., Baltimore. All-ages show at Sonar's Club Stage with Foretold and The Dictators. Tickets cost $9 at

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