It’s not about playing it safe
Walking Ghosts, which performs with a touch of snarl, comes to The Voo
Back in December, the Valley Music Collective presented a show at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton that showcased the musicians who appeared on its “Valley Rising Compilation Album Vol. II.” There was a lot of talent taking the stage that night, but the one band that really grabbed my attention was a quartet called Walking Ghosts. The band delivered a short but tight set that was full of squealing guitars, crashing cymbals and lyrics delivered with a touch of snarl. I made a note to myself that people needed to know about this band the next time it performs in the area.
Well, that time has come as Walking Ghosts will appear at the Rendezvous, 78 Third St., Turners Falls, on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 9 p.m.
The group consists of Grant Wicks on guitar and vocals, Amy Acker on bass, Meg Reily on keyboards, and Thom Lopes on drums. Walking Ghosts, whose members are based throughout the Pioneer Valley — from Easthampton to Greenfield — has been together a couple of years. In July, it released a debut 7-inch vinyl single which, in addition to featuring some fine music, also happens to glow in the dark. This self-titled release is also available via download on the bandcamp Web site at walkingghosts.bandcamp.com.
The album features only three songs, but it packs a powerful punch and serves as a perfect introduction to the band’s raw garage-band sound. It opens with “Not Today” (which is the track it contributed to the Valley Rising compilation). Like many great rock songs, it is fast, loud and furious — the kind of song that has a hint of menace and that evokes images of old dark rock clubs like the old CBGB in New York. The next tune, “It’s a Mean Season,” is less punky and has a sound reminiscent of early Rolling Stones. The disc closes with the guitar-heavy love-gone-wrong song, “Memories, Mistakes, and Loose Ends,” a bluesy tune drenched in some serious guitar clamor.
When the band released the album in July, it held a show in Florence where it performed with a projection of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 hit movie “Jurassic Park.” The show was a success and I had to wonder if the group has plans for a similar type event in the future.
“While we don’t have any immediate plans for another show like the “Jurassic Park” party, we will certainly be doing something similar this year,” said Wicks. “The response and turnout we got for the ‘Jurassic Park’ show was amazing and people have been asking what movie we’ll do next. We haven’t officially picked out a movie yet, but ‘Batman Returns’ is a candidate.”
The band is currently busy writing new songs for the upcoming album.
In addition to being a musician, Wicks is also an audio engineer who runs his own studio: Furious Shut-In Studio in Easthampton. He has recorded and produced albums for such local acts as Mountain Interval, The Novels and Goat Boy.
Wicks, however, will not record the upcoming Walking Ghosts album. The band has plans to travel to Nashville and record in that famous musical city.
The band’s decision to work in Nashville is the result of a chance trip to the city that Wicks and Lopes took last year. It seems that Wicks advertised an old reel-to-reel recorder on Craigslist and the individual who responded to the ad just happened to be an audio engineer at Third Man Records in Nashville. Third Man Records is the label owned and operated by Jack White of the White Stripes. Instead of shipping the recorder, Wicks and Lopes decided to personally deliver it to Nashville and check out the studio while they were there.
“We got a tour of the Third Man building and also visited some other really cool studios while we were down there,” Wicks said. “It’s an amazing city with an incredible musical history and we totally fell in love with the idea of going back down to make a record.”
Wicks added that the band likes the idea of stepping out of its comfort zone and having an adventure.
“Rock ’n’ roll is never about playing it safe and Nashville will be a rite of passage,” he said.
When asked if he could give Sounds Local an idea of what the new songs will be like, he had this to say: “The new songs are very collaborative efforts. Amy, Meg and Thom brought in the musical ideas for the songs and I brought in lyrics that we put together with the different tunes. One is a tribute to a lost friend with hip-shaking drums and slide guitar, one an acoustic hymnal with a winding bass line called “Broken Mirrors” and one a dark bluesy piano-based tune about the worst fever imaginable.”
Listeners will get to hear these songs when the band takes the stage at the Voo. It will be joined by And the Traveler, a group that describes itsself as a progressive rock band with underlying jazz and classical influences. You can listen to the band’s music at www.andthetraveler.com
There is no admission charge.
New CDs released
It’s only January but already the new CDs are starting to roll out. on Jan. 15, singer-songwriter Erin Mckeown Of Northampton released, “Manifestra,” (TVP Records). On this disc, her first self-released project, she merges politics with a sophisticated pop folk sound. On that same day, Shelburne Falls native Seth Glier released his latest, “Things I Should Let You Know” (MPress Records), a disc that finds him moving both his sound and lyrics forward. McKeown is currently on a U.S. tour and does not have any scheduled dates as of this writing. Glier has a local CD-release show at the Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton, on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $12.50 and are on sale now at the Northampton Box Office, 76 Main St., Northampton, online at www.iheg.com or charge by phone at 413-586-8686.
Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org