We’ve gone thru a bunch of incarnations since the core group first formed in 1998. With Leon “Corky” Zak being the Zak in ZaksPak (Zaks Pack – we use both) he’s at every show and most always drags along his little brother Mike Bonafede. In addition to being in the band we started when I was 12 and he was 10 – The Galaxies with the Miller brothers – Bob and DIck – our first job was at Bullwinkles Bar in Rochester, NY. You may remember hearing Mike – he was the drummer for the band Black Sheep – the one with Lou Gramm as the lead singer.
George Conte (recently with Coda Combo and now onto a bunch of other groups) on trumpet and vocals has been there since the beginning and a regular along with Mark Ketchum on Sax. With that as a core the rest of the suspects at the moment are pulled from some of the areas top groups.
2018 we have Kate and Doug Egling from the Albion area. Mike Dydra on guitar. That gives us great vocals and a 3 piece horn section – wow! Also we have Mark Parker on bass for a couple jobs and then Jim Booden for the Brockport Summer Serenade.
2017 brought in Meg Gehamn and Ray Bellizia from Meg Gehman and the Influence. And we had Sylvia Hart on vocal for the Brockport Arts festival.
2016 we pulled in the majority of the McKain Miller Band – Chris McKain on vocal, Bob Miller – vocal and guitar (along with his original songs), Richie Simbari on bass and we’ve done a double drummer setup a couple times with Dana Gregory on vocal and percussion. And we were able to pull back Collin Jones on guitar. Come to think of it we had the whole Mckain Miller Band enveloped. We did the Brockport Arts Festival with Mike Dydra, Chris McKain, Richie Simbari and Dana Gregory.
2016 + – JP Bracy – Mr. “Never a bad day” and can’t get my toes out of the sand on guitar and vocal. And we’ve had Krista Hartwig on vocal – both from the Bordertown Country Rock band.
Bruce Diamond from The Hey Red Band has stepped in for us on bass.
Some of our past dates included the GO Art Jazz festival and featured the goddess of blues Mary Haitz and guitarist the late Mark Manneta formerly with Chuck Mangione. We’ve played The Albion Strawberry Festival many times and the now gone Stage 13 cafe. The recent name change from The Galaxies to ZAKS Pak happened in early 2005 when Mike made room for Bob Nardone on drums. I figured 1 person a Galaxie doesn’t make.
The main goal of the group hasn’t changed – a mix of tunes remembered and restyled with some of the more unusual hits mixed in. With keyboards, horn lines and a great rhythm section we add the touch of great players to top it off. Various guest vocalists have included some local greats like Mary Haitz, Meghan Perry, Brenda Barber, Carol Green, Jacqui Brown, Sylvia Hart and Chris McKain.
Some of our members over the years –
Guitartist Collin Jones. Also on harmonica and vocals Collin was the founder and former front man, lead singer, guitar and harp player of The U. S. Kings, 16 when he started with ZaksPak Collin was the youngest member, but he has talent and experience beyond his years. His former band won a Battle of the Bands and played at venues throughout the Rochester area, including The Bug Jar, Montage Grill, Penny Arcade, and Water Street Music Hall. With Collin at the helm, his previous band was selected by WCMF Brother Wease, from among 23 entries, to be the opening band for Blue Oyster Cult at Water Street Music Hall in May 2007. Collin was a major play in Pia Mater and Haewa and Ocupanther. Most recently he produced a CD for Ms Monet.
Jon Perry on bass and vocals. A native of Milwaukee (and former cheese head), Jon has played with a variety of Milwaukee area bands including: Grant Central Station, Louisiana Belle and Mickey and the Malcontents. Rumors that Jon played in the Thingamaquats are totally unfounded.
Drummer Bob Nardone is a Rochester native that knows what subtle touches to put where to make the percussion end of things turn into real great sounding music. Bob played with “Sounds Incorporated” at the Lilac Festival, Mr. Mikes, 2001 Dance Club, The Tavern on the Mall, and the Carriage Stop Restaurant. Bob also worked the wedding circuit with the Bob Russo quartet. His formal drumming life started with his participation in the popular Aquinas Marching Band.
The sax player is Mark Ketchum who has played in many bands around Rochester for the past 25 years. Blues, Jazz, Pop, Soul and even a little Country: Mark enjoys being a part of it all. Some of his bands include being a member of the Brockport Community Big Band which plays at many community venues including the Rochester Jazz Festival in 2007 and the Lilac Festival in 2008. Also past member of SmoothGroove, The Music Makers. Biggest claim to fame is running a 4:29 mile.
For touches of class and velvet, on Vocals, Trumpet and Flugel Horn, George Conte is another continuous Rochesterian. It’s easier for George to count the places that he hasn’t played rather than the ones he has. A wide vocal range, a dead on melody on his trumpet rounded out with a kick ass flugelhorn. George was a member of the infamous “Horn Dogs” of “T. Blast and the Horn Dogs” fame that played at venues in all around the city. Before that George played with numerous party bands and jazz groups at supper clubs, restaurants and festivals in and around town.
Finally there’s the screaming B3 organ sound of Leon “Corky” Zak. In the rock music scene for years – some of the groups he’s played with include – The Furys at the Geneseo Varsity Inn, he was one of the original Gunthers Bus members, Jacobs Downtown Trolley, the Majestics, Greenwich Mean, The Vistas, on the road to Nashville with Chris Beard, fill-in with Reporter, Niagra Casino with Billy B. and the Rockers and more. Most recently a fill-in for The Aldus Blues Band. And of course the original Galaxies with his brother Mike Bonafede of Black Sheep fame.
Stop by his site, http:leonzak.com and check out the music history recordings going back 40 years with groups like the Furys, Grenwhich Mean, Gunthers Bus, Jacobs Downtown Trolley and others.
Corky had the extreme pleasure of playing with Dr. Lonnie Smith doing a dual B3 jam at the Go Art Jazz Festival. It was AAAmazing. Dr. Smith on a B3, Corky on a B3, Mike Bonafede on drums, Wendal Rivera on Congas, Mel Henderson on guitar, Aaron Robinson on percussion – won a standing ovation from a full house! For those that know what a B3 is – Corkys was the second Hammond he owned – purchased from a little old lady that only played church hymns on it. He’s owned it since 1967. The other B3 was that owned by Larry “Rose” Crozier from the original Black Sheep and up until a couple years ago the organ (a Bill chop) that toured the world with Foreigner.