“These are no-holds-barred, bare-it-all Americana rock tracks that speak so clearly to the trials and tribulations of their author. These songs have expertly crafted lyrics that tell honest, genuine stories. His writing seems to come from a soulful and authentic part of him that allows the listener to connect with him far below just the surface level. The album feels like a novel, each song a chapter on the storied road that brought OZ Zeltner to this release. Spirit of 74 is a songwriter’s album, and for those that appreciate the intricacies of the written word wrapped in a modern rock package, this album is well worth the listen.”
Spirit of 74 is a new project from musician/songwriter OZ Zeltner, formerly of Oliver Buck & The New Madrids. Spirit of 74's debut album marks Zeltner's first return to the studio in more than a decade.
The songs on Spirit of 74 reflect on a lifetime of lived experience as told through snapshots of transcendent moments. Zeltner's lyrics invoke, along other things, themes of perseverance, love in the face of hardship, faith and the lack thereof, and making peace with the past. The album echoes a wide range of influences, including singer-songwriters (John Hiatt; Jackson Browne; Michael Stanley), Americana rock (Robbie Robertson; Ryan Adams; Uncle Tupelo), and 70s classics (Tom Petty; Fleetwood Mac; Thin Lizzy). Zeltner describes Spirit of 74, simply, as Rust Belt Rock.
Spirit of 74 resonated with listeners immediately upon its release in August 2020, and has received airplay on college and independent radio stations across North America and Europe. The album tied with the Avett Brothers for the #1 Folk album added by North American College & Community (NACC) radio stations during the week of September 22, 2020.
Spirit of 74 spent 15 weeks on the college and community radio charts, peaking at #109 on the NACC Top 200, #25 on the Roots Music Report (RMR) Roots Rock chart, #44 on the RMR Rock chart, and #201 on the Americana Music Association album chart. The songs "Long Way Back" and "Ohio" reached #33 and #34, respectively, on the RMR Roots Rock singles chart.
Born in New York City and raised in Cleveland, OZ Zeltner fell in love with music at an early age and started playing drums at age ten. He later picked up electric bass and guitar and, in high school, co-founded a psychedelic jam band that played parties, talent shows and small clubs around Cleveland. In 1992, Zeltner returned to New York City to attend NYU, where he wrote his first songs and played guitar in a grunge-influenced acoustic duo.
Zeltner's music career started in earnest two years later, when he left NYU to travel and focus on music. In 1995, Zeltner recorded his first album of original songs on a four-track cassette recorder borrowed from songwriter Susan Gibson ("Wide Open Spaces") when both artists were living and performing in Missoula, Montana. After a brief period back in Ohio, playing clubs as a solo artist and with the band OZ & The Sea, Zeltner moved to Providence in 1996. There, Zeltner released a second solo album, formed a band - simply called OZ - and performed regularly in New York, Boston and throughout the Northeast. During this period, Zeltner befriended and shared stages with artists including Jason White, Erin McKeown and the Barr Brothers (then known as The Slip).
After stepping away from music to finish college and attend graduate school, in 2005, Zeltner co-founded and played guitar in the Lawrence, Kansas-based alt-country band Percival. Soon after playing their first shows, Percival traveled to Woodstock, New York, where they recorded the EP Indian Summer with producer JP Bowersock (Ryan Adams; The Strokes). Despite the band's promising start, Percival proved short-lived. After a season of touring the Midwest, the band parted ways in 2006.
In 2007, Zeltner again came home to Cleveland, where he adopted the family name "Buck" and formed Oliver Buck & The New Madrids with bassist Adam Rich, drummer Ernie Richmann, guitarists Joe Landes and Dave Mann Wolf, and singer Quinn Sands. The New Madrids quickly became regulars at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, where they opened for the legendary Leon Russell, and at the gone-but-not-forgotten Barking Spider Tavern. That same year, Zeltner was one of five finalists selected in a national competition to play an acoustic set at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival. Oliver Buck & The New Madrids released two albums - Rust Belt Blues (2007) and Prodigal Son (2008) - and one EP, Prairie Girl (2009), before disbanding in 2009.