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Local Girl Made Good to Play St. Paddy's Day Show

Melody Walker has graced local stages since age 10 and keeps getting better.

If anyone can lay claim to being a child of Martinez’ music scene, it must be Melody Walker. The local resident and native has been gracing local stages since the age of 10, and will do so again in a folk music show she is producing St. Patrick’s Day at Armando’s in downtown Martinez.

Melody, 26, will sing with her partner, Jacob Groopman, for most of the March 17 show, which also will feature the Oakland-based trio T-Sisters – and special guests.

Walker’s father, Brian, is a longtime East Bay musician and Martinez resident who co-founded a loose collective known as the Martinez Music Society.

 “It’ll be a whole ‘family band’ kind of experience,” she said, predicting that the guest instrumentalists would include her father and/or Ramsey Tietjen, father of Erika, Rachel and Chloe, the T-Sisters. “It should be really good love.”

Love, and even a bit of traditional Irish music as well, for which Melody definitely has the pedigree. She is a gifted songwriter with two best song awards from the West Coast Songwriters competition, and is a music teacher with a music degree from Cal State Humboldt.

Walker started piano lessons at 6 and by age 10 was performing at the “open mic” at Café Romano. She threw in a guitar lesson or two when she was 13. And along the way, there was plenty of help from dad, who plays in The Hopeful Romantics band.

“I came from a musical family. He taught me part of what he knows and all of what I know,” Walker said of her father. “He was in a band called Night Shades in the '80s that I have a really funny press photo from.”

After graduating from Alhambra High, she went to Humboldt and started her career on the North Coast. She was singing in a “world beat” band called AKA Bella last year when she met Groopman, a guitarist and Berkeley resident playing in the next band on the bill in Eureka. Really good love was the result there, too.

“It’s just crazy. It’s too good to be true,” she said of the pairing. Onstage, they enjoy merging talents on cover tunes and Walker’s compositions. “We always play with two instruments, two voices. It’s a four-part texture between the two of us.”

The result is a folksy, sometimes moody harmony that she likened most closely to the duo Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, noting, “They’re a huge influence on us.”

Walker brings award-winning songwriting to the act as well as a strong singing voice that alternatively soars and whispers. She has the ability to play just about “every instrument in the lute family,” she says with a smile.

Marketing her talent is another strength, with two websites and a plan to seek “crowd funding” of her new EP recording through indiegogo.com.

“I consider myself primarily a songwriter,” Walker said, but she noted that her teaching business has students from a 4-year-old ukulele novice to a 70-year-old voice student.

Her website lists performances in various cities, but to hear her in her hometown element, St. Paddy’s Day will the next opportunity to catch a genuine local-girl-made-good.

 

 

 

Gigi Walker March 08, 2011 at 05:39 AM
Count me in! A one-e-and-a-two-e... This should be a great show, and rumor has it that Armando's will have Guiness for the night!
Eric Akeson March 16, 2011 at 05:10 AM
I wouldn't miss it. Melody is an icon!
Brian Walker March 18, 2011 at 06:07 PM
I will go out on a limb and state that this was the best St. Patrick's Day music show in Martinez in at least a generation! Sweet soaring harmonies from the T-Sisters highlighted an opening set paced by jazzy close harmonies reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters, with things often slowing things down so they could offer up a beautiful ballad. End of Part 1
Brian Walker March 18, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Part 2 Melody and Jacob offered up a solid and eclectic set that ranged from the deepest mountains of Appalachia, to the greenest hills of Ireland, with stops in between to visit the verdant forests of Brazil. Melody and Jacob were celebrating the release of Melody's first studio release in five years, "Melody Walker IIIep", a three song CD recorded with all live takes by Grammy-nominated Cookie Marenco of OTR Studios. All three of the strong, original compositions were covered during the set, with particular standouts in "Goldrush Goddess", and "Black Grace", both of which have been recent winners in West Coast Songwriter's competitions. Their musicianship was exceptional, providing professional accompaniment to Melody’s compositions, and also allowing Jacob to show off his instrumental prowess on such numbers as “The Sweet Sunny South”. Melody’s voice was a finely tuned instrument, soaring one moment, achingly beautiful the next. Their close two-part harmonies were tight and proved to be a great match in both timbre and texture. Melody had joined the T-Sisters for their final number, and the T-Sisters returned the favor at show's end, joining Melody and Jacob on a heart-wrenchingly beautiful version of "Green Grow the Rashes", a tender melody based on a Robert Burns poem, and finally a rousing version of the Irish drinking classic, "The Wild Rover", with everyone joining in.

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