Written on June 23, 2010 at 12:00 am by Tori Norskog
Rock legend makes a come back in Virginia City
When he sat down at the Pioneer Bar after he got off work at the Virginia City Cafe, Dave Walker immediately ordered a non-alcoholic beer.
The bartender, Rosy, brought him his drink and then changed the song playing to one of, what he thought was, Savoy Brown’s songs. Savoy Brown is the band Walker spent the majority of his career with and is most well-known for being a part of.
Once the song came on, Walker stopped Rosy at once, barking “That’s not me, that’s a wanker!”
Rosy eventually found a Savoy Brown song, one of their hits called “Street Corner Talking,” and said, “I was in my 20s when this song came out. I was in college when I first heard this song.”
Walker looked down humbly and giggled.
“It turns out I’m still fairly well known in my generation. I was unaware of this,” he said.
Aware or not, after more than 50 years of performing, Walker is still very well-known and continues to do what he is best at.
“I feel more at home doing that (performing) than I do anything else, it comes naturally to me,” Walker said. “For years and years before and after Savoy Brown I denied my musical self because I thought I wasn’t valid.”
But now, he is accepting his validity and talent and making a come back.
His current band, the Dave Walker Band, has been invited to play on the main stage at the Rockin’ the Rivers music festival with the Doobie Brothers in August.
This performance will come just after the Dave Walker Band releases their first album, called “Crazy All the Time.”
While Walker has played in 13 countries with legends like Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac, he said the Dave Walker Band is his favorite band he has ever worked with.
“We are equal. We have musical integrity. We play the best we can all the time,” Walker said.
He also said his current band includes the best musicians he has ever played with, and his band mates are just as enthusiastic about playing with him.
“He is an exceptional singer. There is something about the way he sings that I can’t pinpoint. He’s world class. He’s a rock singer with subtlety,” said base player Eddie Tsuru.
Walker moved to Montana from New Mexico in 1998 to escape a bad marriage. When he first got here, he tried to make a home in Bozeman, but didn’t like it much.
Then, three years ago, he went through Virginia City and thought: “This is more like it,” and he has been there ever since. His fortune in finding Virginia City still astounds him.
“We kinda live in paradise,” Walker said.
When he moved to Virginia City he began to resuscitate his music career. He recorded his solo album “Walking Underwater,” which got him introduced to his now band members Jimmy Lewis who plays the guitar, Eddie Tsuru who plays the bass, Chris Cundy who plays keyboards and Mike Gillan who plays the drums.
The Dave Walker Band plays an eclectic range of genres including blues, R and B, funk, country and classic rock.
He has been able to be himself with his current band, Walker said. He is an eccentric, enigmatic personality who is not afraid to go a little nuts and speak his mind, which is a characteristic his band mates value in him.
“They turn me loose,” Walker said. “Fleetwood Mac was afraid to turn me loose, so not much creatively happened.”
His current band, however, appreciates his opinion and what he brings to the table.
Tsuru, whose first concert was seeing Savoy Brown, said one of his favorite parts about working with Walker is the stories he shares. Walker, 65, was born and spent most of his younger years in England, where he got the opportunity to meet a lot of musicians who would become legends.
“He is connected to all the great rock stars from England,” Tsuru said. “His drinking buddy was John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. He had breakfast with Richard Blackmore from Deep Purple. I found a picture of him sandwiched between John Lennon and David Bowie.”
One of Walker’s favorite memories is a show back in 1991 with Savoy Brown in Budapest, Hungary, when the country was still behind the Iron Curtain.
The promoter of the show was excited about the concert because she thought they were going to get nearly 750 people, and then 2,200 ended up attending, Walker said.
“That was when music was an international language,” he said. “We were playing in this communist country and were able to communicate. Performers can do more good in terms of crossing international barriers in an hour and a half than most politicians can do in 20 years. That’s maybe the coolest thing about what I do.”
Another musical experience he recalled was when he was 18 and played a four concert series where the Beatles opened for his band at the time, The Redcaps.
During the first show of the series, he said he received the best compliment of his life. George Harrison told him he liked his suit.
Such experiences have contributed to his well-established career, which is still blossoming.
“Dave is making a comeback in a big way,” Tsuru said.
The Dave Walker Band will be playing Aug. 15 at the Rockin’ the Rivers festival which will be near Three Forks in the Jefferson River Canyon.
This Friday the Dave Walker Band is playing a show near Livingston.
“I am in awe and obliged to them (my band) for their effort. They are the best of the best, the best musicians I have worked with,” Walker said.