Zanesville's current music scene features many talented musicians

ZANESVILLE – Music has deep roots in Muskingum County, from the bluegrass music of Appalachia to the rock and roll of today. And for good reason. Music moves us. It evokes memories, lets us dream outside of our reality and helps us express ourselves. It can change our mood, relieve our stress and even stimulate our brains. It's also a powerful way to connect with others.

And fortunately, Muskingum County has a tradition of great bands and currently boasts a wealth of musical talent. When the Beatles popularized rock 'n' roll in 1964, people like John Mohr, Tom Weisand, Mark Dinan and Bob Presnell brought the genre to Muskingum County.

Weisand and John Mohr were both members of the original Muffs, who became well known throughout the Midwest as the opening act for Cheap. In the 1970s, Zanesville produced the renowned bands The Muffs/MONEY and The Godz. John Mohr later formed The T-Birds with Twila Quinn. They were joined by Hanna Chalcraft (now John's wife) and they were a fixture on the local music scene for many years.

Kenny Wayne played a mixture of rock and country music with keyboardist Dave Joseph and was one of the most famous singers/musicians in the region for many years. Kenny no longer performs for health reasons. Joseph is still active.

In 2024, Zanesville has a thriving music scene. There are many talented musicians and bands right here in our area. I've compiled a list of some current musicians and bands that have their roots in Muskingum County and the surrounding area. This list is by no means exhaustive. There are too many to list them all. And bands are formed or disbanded on a regular basis.

To be completely honest, I have a personal connection with several area bands. But all area musicians and bands have something to offer. I hope you will support all local musicians. Check out their social media pages and websites to see when and where they are performing and go hear them. You can also learn more about area artists in an upcoming series, The Beat of Muskingum County, in the Times Recorder.

In the meantime, please stop by The Barn on July 14th when Git Shorty performs for his birthday.


Git Shorty is a national recording artist who lives in Zanesville. Git Shorty, also known as Elbert Ferguson, lived in Zanesville as a young boy and returned in the mid-80s. Shorty has played with the biggest names in music, from James Brown to Michael Jackson. After traveling the world as a musician for 67 years, Shorty has recently started spending more time in Zanesville, performing primarily in Ohio and surrounding states. Shorty has released one album and is working on a follow-up.


Donnelly/Quinn (made up of Mark Donnelly and myself) is a duo that plays a mix of classic rock and new country covers, with a lot of Rolling Stones thrown in. We've been performing together for three years and have played many venues in and around Zanesville.

The Alley Boys

The Alley Boys is a newly formed offshoot of the band Dejected, which played hard rock covers and originals. The Alley Boys are young musicians who play classic and modern rock covers. They played at the Red, White & Boom in Columbus on July 3rd.

Repairing what is broken

Formed in 2012, Mend the Broken plays classic and modern rock covers (1980s-2000s) and originals. They recently played at the New Lexington Eagles and The Hangout in Crooksville.

Levi Jameson

Levi Jameson is a country/folk singer/songwriter. Born and raised in Sonora, Levi grew up hunting, fishing, and playing music he learned from his father. He released his first single in 2016 and an EP in 2022.

Later horizon

Late Horizon members Michael Crane and John and Hanna Mohr were members of the popular party band HB7. John and Hanna were also members of the popular long-running band The T-Birds. John was also an early member of the legendary band The Muff Brothers in the 1970s. Hanna was also a member of the area's first all-female rock band. The Late Horizon lineup consists of John Kisch on bass and vocals and Terrill Perkins on drums. They play classic rock.

50 years later

50 Years After consists of guitarist Bob Presnell, singer Twila Quinn and singer/organist Jon Kullman. Quinn was a long-time member of the popular band The T-Birds. Music veteran Jim Rose, formerly of The Standing Ovation, plays bass guitar. And new to the band is drummer Jay Bond. The band plays mainly 70s rock from bands like The Doors.

Brandon Middleton

Brandon Middleton is a talented lead guitarist, singer and songwriter from Zanesville. He is both a solo artist and band member. He is best known as the lead guitarist for the famous local jam band Ol' Dirty Strangers. He has since formed two other bands: The Stadankos, an acoustic folk and rock group, and Sharwahl, an original blues and rock band. Brandon is a leader in the community for musicians performing for a good cause. He organized the “Battle of the Bands” event at the Secrest Auditorium for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, as well as “A Day of the Arts” event to support victims of the Masonic Temple fire. Brandon and his band organized an annual Christmas charity event for many years.

Matt Frampton

Matt Frampton has been a fixture on the southeast Ohio music scene since the 1980s. Frampton has built a loyal fan base that appreciates his versatile voice, outstanding musicianship, spontaneity, and large song portfolio. Matt plays both solo and in other bands and projects, including Tongo Rad with Jay Wince and Paul Mainini, which features three-part harmony vocals.Seeking Closure is a hard rock band that plays original music. Bandleader Drew Bauserman also owns and operates the recording studio Co-Lab Productions on Linden Ave.

Brian Keys

Brian Keys has been a local music star for decades. He played with Matt Frampton early on, rose to fame in the 80s with the band On Board, and now leads Spelchek, where he plays more contemporary rock covers.

Steve Spiers

Steve Spires began playing drums at age 4, accompanying his father, Chuck Spires, and siblings by banging kitchen pots and pans in time. Over the next 25 years, Steve has gone from playing drums in the family band at county fairs to a Metallica cover band to playing guitar and singing many of his own songs. Spires is best known for his radio-friendly song “16 Miles From My Hometown,” but his track record is impressive: two recorded song releases, a growing fan base, and live performances throughout the region.

Rif Raf

46 years after Rif Raf was founded, Tim Blake is keeping the band alive. The band's fans can't get enough of it. Despite health problems, deaths and breakups, the band is catching up and rocking on. Blake reassembled the band last year, released new recordings and is rocking again.

American Mojo

American Mojo covers classic rock. Formerly known as Spank the Monkey, this band rocks as hard as they party. Don't expect romantic slow dances from this group – they go all out all night. The trio boasts one of the best drummers around in Brad Handshy.


Formed in Zanesville in late 2019, AudioCide is a critically acclaimed original hard rock band that quickly gained notoriety throughout the region. AudioCide's roots are “deep in hard grooves, dynamic rhythms, spirited vocals, colossal riffs and unforgettable hooks,” the band says of themselves. Their hard rock sound may stand in the way of mass popularity, but the band's musicianship makes them a favorite among music connoisseurs. In April, they released a recording titled “Shots Fired.”


Hard rock classic from the Straight Jacket band. Drummer Dustin Miller lives in Zanesville, while Mike Derwacter (bass, vocals) and Kevin Freshwater (guitar) live in Crooksville. Among hard rock cover bands, this is one of the best in the area.

Hunter Lepi

Hunter Lepi is a solo musician, singer/songwriter, who focuses on acoustic guitars and harmonicas. After a stint on the West Coast, Lepi is back in Zanesville and building on his 15-year career as a writer and musician of his own music. Hunter has a unique style and sound. In his own songs, Hunter is a captivating storyteller with intelligent lyrics and catchy riffs. Each song has its own unique mood.

There are many more musicians and bands in the area that deserve your time and attention. Up and coming young artists like Wes Devoll, TDT Party Band, The River Rats, Jason Edward Adams, KLB & Co., Mister Joe, Flu'z Acoustic, Black Sasquatch, Route 66 and Woodlawn Avenue will keep Zanesville's music tradition alive!

Paul Quinn's music career began more than 50 years ago when he saved money he earned delivering the Times Recorder and bought a used Ludwig drum kit from his cousin. Since then, he has played music in several bands in Zanesville and Columbus, including the Quinn Family Singers.