What can one person do about racism, gun violence, climate change, income inequality, bigotry, ignorance, war and greed? "Write funny songs," says Roy Zimmerman.
Over twenty years on stages, screens and airwaves across America, Roy has brought the sting of satire to the struggle for Peace and Justice. His songs have been heard on HBO and Showtime. He has recorded for Warner/Reprise Records. His YouTube videos have garnered over seven million views, and he's a featured blogger for the Huffington Post.
He's calling his show "ReZist," bringing laughter and encouragement to progressive-minded people who need a lot of both in the Age of Trump. "Sometimes I think satire is the most hopeful form of expression," says Roy, "because in calling out the world's absurdities and laughing in their face, I'm affirming the real possibility for change."
Zimmerman has shared stages with Bill Maher, Ellen DeGeneres, Robin Williams, Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, John Oliver, The Roches, Andy Borowitz, The Chambers Brothers and George Carlin. He's done several shows with The Pixies' Frank Black, swapping songs in a solo acoustic setting, and provided comic commentary to the live premiere performance of Black's score for the classic silent film "Der Golem."
The world is full of funny songs, but Zimmerman's hilarious, rhyme-intensive
Roy's songs are often played on progressive radio by Stephanie Miller, Bill Press, Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, and others. His tunes are spun regularly by folk music DJs across the country and he's a frequent guest on Sirius Radio's syndicated show "West Coast Live."
Roy's performance of his song "I'm Fired" is featured in the Showtime film "Fired!" And he sings his song "Ted Haggard is Completely Heterosexual" in Alexandra Pelosi's HBO documentary "The Trials of Ted Haggard." Mr. Haggard himself said of the song, "It's really bad -- I mean, it's poorly done -- but it's funny."
Zimmerman founded and wrote all the material for the comedy folk quartet The Foremen, who recorded for Warner/Reprise Records. The Foremen toured extensively, playing the nation's major folk venues, a lot of fancy Progressive benefits, Pete Seeger's Clearwater Festival, The Democratic National Convention and CBGB.
The group was featured on NPR's "All Things Considered," and many other syndicated talk radio shows. They shared the air with Al Franken on NPR's "Talk of the Nation." They got to sing Zimmerman's lampoon of Oliver North, "Ollie Ollie Off Scot Free" directly to the colonel himself on North's own syndicated show. "Friends," said North, "this is a very weird group."
Roy's frequent co-writer and tour chauffeur is his wife Melanie Harby. Like Roy, Melanie grew up as a hippie-wannabe in the conservative suburbs of California listening to rock, folk and Dr. Demento. When disco reared its ugly head in the mid-'70s, Melanie sprinted in the opposite direction and became 3-time West Coast Bluegrass flat picking guitar champion while studying math and history at UCLA.
In the early '80s Melanie performed in the Broadway production of Quilters playing guitar, banjo, mandolin, concertina and harmonica. It was at the San Jose Repertory Theatre's opening night party of Quilters that Melanie and Roy met in 1985. She brought Roy home to Los Angeles with her. In LA, Melanie was Joni Mitchell's guitar tech and worked with her on the Hits and Misses project. Roy and Melanie collaborated with the late great Anita O'Day, the Jezebel of Jazz, on her final song "No Man of My Own," and Melanie co-directed the documentary of Anita's life, "O'Day at The Races."
Roy and Melanie have written hundreds of children's songs for Disney, Warner Bros, Looney Tunes, McGraw and Hill and others. Melanie is the author of the children's picture book All Aboard for Dreamland, published by Tradewind Books and Simon and Schuster in 2008. By far, Roy and Melanie's best collaborations are their sons, Joe and Sam.
On the rare occasion that they're home, Roy and Melanie live in Northern California. Otherwise they're on the road, and Roy is doing shows in some of the least Progressive places in America for the most Progressive people there -- the "Blue Dots" he calls them. "I get accused of 'preaching to the choir,'" he says, "but that's not how I think of it. I think of it as 'entertaining the troops.'"
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