Nontraditional bluegrass band comes to Kearny


By Anthony J. Machcinski

As the dog days of summer bring triple-digit heat to the area, a hot day at the zoo might not seem like the most sought after way to spend time. However, the band of the same name should provide an escape from the high temperatures.
Massachusetts is not the area typically associated with bluegrass; however, Hot Day at the Zoo embraces its nontraditional roots and sound.
“I’ve always believed what we’re doing is unique,” said guitarist Michael Dion. “No one is doing what we’re doing.”
Hot Day at the Zoo started eight years ago, but it wasn’t until three years ago when mandolin player JT Lawrence joined the band that Dion felt the group had more of a professional feel.
“When he came into the band, I feel like we upped it into a big outfit,” Dion said.
Although Lawrence thinks that the band had been established before he arrived, the vibe he received from the beginning was powerful.
“When I joined the group, I knew that off the bat the band could be successful,” Lawrence explained. “I saw what was going on and heard the sounds they blended together. When I make a piece of music, I try to think of how many diverse groups of people can understand this music and get as many as possible. (Hot Day at the Zoo) did just that.”
While the band loves being home, its uniqueness is not always embraced in Massachusetts.
“Hot Day at the Zoo is not traditional bluegrass,” Lawrence explained. “In New England, people are so traditional in every aspect of their life, and they want to hear the music that they heard 40 or 50 years ago.”

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