With humble beginnings in the local bars of Athens, Aaron Paul Zimmer began his music career while going to school at the University of Georgia, but now calls Savannah home.
Fans of bluegrass may recognize him from his locally-beloved band, City Hotel, but his recent work has been primarily focused on his solo work, carrying an acoustic folk sound with an emphasis on lyricism.
Alongside his multiple studio albums as a member of City Hotel, Zimmer released his first solo album in 2019 called “Saints and Heretics”, which features his patented autobiographical storytelling.
“I try to write stuff that is personal but also vague enough where people can read some of their own experiences within the music. I want people to be able to identify with what I write,” he explained.
Though the album came from his solo writing, Aaron is fast to point out the support he received from local musicians in its creation. The album features a number of artists from other local acts and displays a side of the Savannah music community that he loves.
“People in this town are so generous with their time and skill. It is something really special about the community here. It is such a meshing of sounds and musical genres, and we all like to play together. Anytime somebody is putting together an album, usually somebody from every band in town seems to jump on it and do something to help out,” he mused.
For Aaron, collaborative projects are some of his favorite creations and a defining feature of the Savannah music scene. Also in 2019, he released a collaborative EP with Jay Rudd, an active member of the local bluegrass band, Swamptooth. The project sports five tracks co-created by the two musicians and stands as a shining example of the benefits of a strongly-connected musical community.
Zimmer and others credit amazing artistic community of Savannah for the large variety of live music hotspots that host musicians like himself.
He can often be found playing his solo music around town at Perch, Foxy Loxy, Edgar’s Proof & Provisions, and more.
“I really like playing at Perch. I love playing outside up on the roof near the treetops of the beautiful Live oaks,” he says.
For Aaron, this rooftop bar is a perfect setting to take in his Southern folk sound as the location facilitates a unique and intimate listening experience.
“It just has a great vibe. The people listening are always attentive and appreciative. It is one of my favorite spots in town,” he said.
This type of musician-audience dynamic is important for Zimmer, whose work is truly a labor of love.
But while his focus has primarily shifted to solo projects and smaller scale collaborations, fans of City Hotel can still catch the legendary outfit from time to time during special events in the city.
The four-piece band often reconnects to perform within some of the larger-scale music festivals such as Homegrown Summer Jam at Victory North, most recently.
City Hotel brings the complex instrumentals and rural sound of traditional bluegrass to the local music scene. The band has three studio albums available, with their most recent being the 2017 release “Don’t Go to the Porch.”
Whether you are a fan of City Hotel or Aaron Paul Zimmer’s melodic solo work, be on the lookout for local live performances featuring the talented musician. In the meantime, all of the City Hotel’s albums and Zimmer’s newest solo and collaborative projects are available for streaming on most major platforms.