Compilation of A to Zen performers set for release

CJ Davis performs at A to Zen Open Mic Night in April.

CJ Davis performs at A to Zen Open Mic Night in April.
Photo by Kyler Klix.

For more than 12 years, musicians have filled A to Zen on Carson Street full of music on Fridays with Open Mic Night. Now the store is releasing its first compilation album “Friends of the Zen Den: Vol. 1.”

It features nine artists who perform there regularly, and there will be a CD release party at the Brewery Art Center’s Performance Hall at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23. Each of the musicians will get their spot to shine on the big stage with their own performance as part of the show.

The CD features nine local singer/songwriters and each song was recorded and mastered at the new studio at A to Zen.

“I always wanted to feature these players and do something for them,” said Mike Epps, owner of A to Zen. “I’m very proud of it and it’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind for years.”

Epps recently opened studio and a full-blown production company and wanted a project to beta test everything, he said. He had plenty of people to ask from Open Mic Night if they would like to be included, and Epps also had one of his songs recorded for the album. He hopes this becomes a multi-volume series.

“A lot of it is I wanted to be supportive of the musicians,” he said.

The musicians include Cadence Clark, Canyon White, CJ Davis, Dave Elsdon, Donna “Toma” Mote, Keith Alan Barnett, Lee Kennedy, Mike Epps and We Rhyme With Orange.

It will be Epps’ first song that was recorded professionally, and it will be for others too, including Donna “Toma” Mote.

Mote said she started playing at A to Zen about six years ago. Her song “I Can Make It On My Own” is featured on the album. She said she is thrilled to be included.

“When I first started, I hadn’t played a lick on the guitar,” she said. “And they (everyone at Open Mic) were just really kind and kept encouraging me to come back. And now I’m on the album.”

She said she can’t wait for Sept. 23 and is happy to play her song on stage and hear everyone else perform theirs.

“I’m really looking forward to it, a lot, and meeting the people and enjoying my friends around me and hearing them,” she said. “They’re all very talented and I’m lucky to be a part of it.”

Along with having a song to share that is recorded professionally, having a song on the album publishes it on platforms such as Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, YouTube and more. This puts the artist’s work out there for them and the album will be a route for a smaller artist to get their music on these platforms.

“That’s why I want to do this with a lot of the up-and-comers,” Epps said. “It gives them a professional track to share.”

Cadence Clark is still early in her music career, and she recorded her song “Idiot” for the album. She’s been a regular at A to Zen for a while and she is excited to be on the album.

“It feels amazing,” she said. “I’ve always dreamed of playing music my whole life. It’s all I wanted to do.”

She said it will be helpful having the track published professionally. She also said recording the song helped motivate her to keep going with music.

“I never thought I’d accomplish that,” she said. “Because I don’t know where to start with those things. It’s super cool; It’s a weird feeling because it’s a little surreal.”

She hopes being on the album will help her in her career by doing a little more and getting her name out there.

“I’m just taking another step forward in this exciting adventure,” she said.

The show at the Performance Hall will include each artist playing their song. Some will be backed by Batamba and Gabe Hinman on bass. Batamba and Hinman were also used for the album production, so with them the songs will sound just as they are on the album when played live.

“I’m really looking forward to doing our show there,” Epps said. “Everyone is doing rehearsals every Saturday so it should go pretty good.”

Tickets to the show are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. There is an option to buy a ticket and the CD for $25. The CDs will be released on Sept. 23 and they will be $20. Find tickets online at: Or stop into A to Zen at 1803 N Carson St., Carson City.


WHAT: A to Zen CD Release Party

WHERE: BAC Performance Hall, 449 W King St., Carson City

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23



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