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.
“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.