An Interview with multitalent Ira Walker, a true organic example of when Soul meets Roots

"Southern Soul …like a room full of folks laughing, you know you’re at the right place at the right time! You can't make an appointment!"

Ira Walker: The Truth of Southern Soul

Recently nominated for a Grammy as a producer, singer/songwriter Ira Walker released his new solo CD "Blame Me". Ira has written and performed with a star studded list of music icons, from Steve Miller, Eddie Money, Carlos Santana, Brian May, & Joe Satriani. After touring Europe with Keb’ Mo in 2000, Ira as singer/bass player recorded with the Trichromes featuring Neal Schon (Journey), Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead), and legendary lyricist Robert Hunter in 2002.

Working as a songwriter for 7 years with Warner/Chapel publishing he co-wrote the pop hit "I Wanna Go Back" for Eddie Money and has worked on records that include Travis Tritt, Randy Travis, Lee Ann Womack, Patti Loveless, Steve Earle, David Lee Murphy, Lenny Williams (Tower of Power), Greg Rollie, & Tommy Castro.

He formed the Bay Area band "Billy Satellite" in 1984 and soon signed with Capitol Records, produced by Don Gehman (John Cougar). The second record was produced by Keith Olsen (Foreigner).

With 14 album producer credits to date, his new CD "Blame Me" features many world renowned players - Brent Mason, Buddy Hyatt, Steve Hunter, Jack White, Brad Gillis, Monty Byrom, and David Kaffinetti aka “Viv Savage” (Spinal Tap). Ira’s musical pedigree has evolved into a unique style of Blues, Rock, & Southern Soul.

Interview by Michael Limnios

When was your first desire to become involved in the blues music?

Around 11 when, the old men either got tired of us asking/or just felt like letting you join in.

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the BLUES mean to you?

Simple..."The mind won't speak with the heart don't know" there's a reason this music was born from the black experience in America.

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD MUSICIAN and SONGWRITER?

Empathy, and the ability to call myself on the truth. Being naive enough not to know any better. And goofy enough to smile when life smiles at me through song and story.

How do you describe Ira Walker sound and progress, what characterize your music philosophy?

"Southern Soul ... like a room full of folks laughing, you know you’re at the right place at the right time! You can't make an appointment!"

What is the line that connects the legacy of Blues Jazz poetry/lyrics with you and the new blood writers?

The naked truths ... see every morning you see the sun; well you can't fight night...Rock & Roll from the 50's, to the rap game now. It's the naked truth.

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the music? 

Larry Vann- He's my mentor really; it's like being the son of a king! Humble yet expressive, quite but loud in spiritual content. You see music & songwriting is such a high calling, that by the time you hear it, it has come from a place where words are never spoken! Like the blues it calls us. Native people know this...Marty Cohn for explaining the art of Songwriting & Kind words!

What is the best advice ever gave you?

"Its a sorry rat that's got only one hole to crawl into"... it means don't be afraid to take another route home, one way of thinking will stop your growth.

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?

Jamming in the Sy Klopps for 6 plus years hands down!! Brain May, Billy Gibbons, Steve Miller, Greg Allman, Sammy Hagar, it was a track meet of celebs...Worst, I'm not sure it's possible! I'm always gonna have fun, it is the best thing!

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?

Find something else, if your gonna do MUSIC for money! Play the lotto!

Are there any memories from Steve Miller, Carlos Santana, Keb' Mo, which you’d like to share with us?

Mostly Keb' Mo cause I spent so much time around him. But being at Montreaux Jazz Festival with Mavis Staples, Keb'Mo, BB King, Lucky Pertersen, jamming backstage I wish I still had those pictures!

What's been their experience from the Trichromes, Lenny Williams and Greg Rollie?

Trichromes was short lived for me. Greg Rollie has recorded a few of my songs. I wrote and produced the title cut "Chill" for Lenny! I love that guys voice, and giving him a lick to to sing is like watching a drawing come to life, or a painter programming his brush to paint!

What’s the best jam and gig you ever played in?

My last night opening for Etta James in Nashville!!

Which memory from recording time makes you smile?

A guy came into the studio when I was recording on Capitol Record, and we were dong overdubs downstairs in this iconic studio when this disheveled guy offers to buy us lunch! I laugh and say "Let’s collect some quarters to help this guy out. We wound up on his yacht after he'd just pulled in from Tahiti, cause he was on a one year vacation from the 5 banks he owned"…..I never judged a book by it's cover since! Big lesson……we should ALL adhere to.

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do think that is? Give one wish for the BLUES

It's the truth! ...I wish everybody could get the blues once a day!

How do you describe your contact to people when you are on stage? Happiness is…

…knowing I'm there!

When we talk about blues/soul, we usually refer to memories and moments of the past. Apart from the old cats, do you believe in the existence of real blues nowadays?

Sure, there's always gonna be those chosen one's Susan Tedeshi comes to mind. But outside of that... the truth is not everybody is a painter! Imagine if very person who put paints on canvas was an artist. Religion is a way to talk about things we can't explain. Jesus didn't live in no mansion, so you better have something say! You don't sign up for this job.

Do you believe that there is “misuse”, that there is a trend to misappropriate the name of blues?

Funny question..."Nobody wants to hear the Indians version of the taking of their land"...

Which incident of your life you‘d like to be captured and illustrated in a painting? 

The day I picked up my 3 yr old son from pre-school and while standing in my 51 Chevy 3/4ton hot rod truck telling of his great world travels that day, I put that moment in a song called Let the children play "Today saw the sunset my mind was blown, the sky was a canvas a master painter was working on"

From the music point of view what are the differences and similarities between the BLUES, SOUL & ROCK?

Space...what is in between the notes!

What is the “feeling” you miss most nowadays from the old days of Southern Soul and Blues?

Long jams... I got a chance to do that on the Blame Me CD with Gods Face.

What from your memories and things (books, records etc.) you would put in a "capsule on time"?

Going fishing, teaching my kids to ride a bike, making music with nature {any time the body touches the earth}, and watching my mom be happy with me!

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?

I already answered that one ..."Run like Mo Fo'! Find something else!!

If your gonna do MUSIC for the money! Play the lotto!

Ira Walker - Official website

 

 

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