ILWACO - Just hours before his final show in North Carolina, singer/songwriter Zack Freiwald has mixed feelings.
"I'm feeling actually a little under the weather today," he said over the phone from Cameron, N.C. "It's going to be kind of like a relief to go and hit the road and play in some other places. After awhile you get stale when you play the same places over and over."
As he moves over the next two weeks from Tarheel country to the Land of the Midnight Sun - Alaska - Freiwald will be playing shows along the way, including a Wednesday, March 31 date at Pauly's Bistro in Ilwaco. Freiwald will be the first artist to play at Pauly's this year, which hosted a few live acts last year. Owners Geri and Jeff Marcus said he would like to hold a few more through the summer.
Freiwald has been paying his dues, playing in the coffeehouses, pubs and honky-tonks around the Raleigh, N.C. area since returning from North Korea this year, where he was injured as an E4 Spc in the U.S. Army. But even before his 3 1/2-year stint in the military, which ended with an honorable discharge a few weeks ago due to his injury, Freiwald has been performing his own brand of music for years, even recording and distributing some of his earliest works though the Web site MP3.com. But try and put a label on his music, and you might get some different responses depending on who you ask.
"I have a hard time with that, I constantly ask people myself," he said. "Young kids tell me 'oh, that's country' because they don't really know. Older folks will tell me that it reminds them of stuff they heard a long time ago."
The popular term is "alternative country," but Freiwald prefers "Americana" or "roots-style" music.
"It's traditional sounding but maybe the lyrics are a little more modern," he said. "Depending on what song I'm playing, I probably fall into a couple of those categories."
Freiwald shares bloodlines with another musician who is hard to categorize and has become popular in the mainstream, his second cousin Jack Johnson who scored a hit with his album "Brushfire Fairytales."
On his way to Alaska, to take a job as a wildland firefighter for the USDA Forest Service, Freiwald will also be playing gigs in Texas as well as his hometown of Crescent City, Calif.
"Yeah, it will be nice. I like the opportunity to play for family, friends I haven't seen forever," he said. Freiwald hasn't been home since he joined the Army.
Zack said he was looking forward to playing in Ilwaco next week as well, because for one, it will be a different kind of venue than what he is used to.
"It's great that I'm going to be able to provide the soundtrack to a great meal," he said. "I feel very positive about it, I know I'm going to have a good time playing."
Freiwald said he was looking forward to visiting the area, which will be his first time on the Washington coast.
Freiwald will play from 6:30 p.m. to closing on the 31st, with a break in the middle. There is no cover charge to attend. Freiwald did say that the shows he is playing while he travels will be putting the gas in his tank for the trip north and usually has a large tip glass at his shows. Freiwald will also be selling his homemade CDs, which is already on heavy rotation on the Pauly's PA system. Zack said how much he charges for those, however, is sometimes negotiable.
"Sometimes it varies how much they have in their pocket," he said. "On average $5 to $10, I like to make them available to as many people as possible."