You might find Zach Heckendorf sauntering though the halls of Cherry Creek High School in his red Converse low tops and cutoff jeans. You might find him hanging with friends and avoiding homework—after all, he’s a senior, entering the homestretch. Where you might find him after graduation—or even next Friday night—is anyone’s guess. Because when Heckendorf approaches a mic and lets loose with his acoustic guitar, you realize the kid has enough talent to take him places. Maybe big places. •Although his style has been compared to that of Jason Mraz and Dave Matthews, Heckendorf’s influences range from hip-hop lyricist Aesop Rock to electronica mainstay Crystal Castles. Since opening for Tea Leaf Green at the Bluebird in January—the show he says helped put him on the map—Heckendorf has recorded live at 97.3 KBCO’s prestigious Studio C, opened for the John Butler Trio at the Fox, and performed at Red Rocks for Film on the Rocks. With the help of manager Austin Card, a recent Cherry Creek grad who interns with Red Light Management (the same group who advises the Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper, and Phish), Heckendorf is starting to draw attention from national recording labels. •At 17, it’s a heady thing to deal with: stepping off a plane after a weekend show and hightailing it to Monday morning history class; hobnobbing with famous musicians backstage; and being recognized by fans at the local Yogurt Guru. But Heckendorf’s sense of humor keeps him grounded. Take his forthcoming CD: “I don’t want it to be a serious album, like cheesy singer-songwriter,” he jokes. “Something funny or fun, but I definitely have to be naked on the cover.”

Listen up>>Catch Heckendorf live at Stella’s Coffeehaus on Oct. 15 or Nov. 19, or at the Rock ’n’ Roll Denver Marathon on Oct. 17. Download his popular EP on iTunes. His first full-length album is slated for release early next year.