Golden pipes: Working on a weekday

William Walter Acoustic Trio
at Orbit
February 22

Last Tuesday was the pilot run of my new "Go out and see shows during the week so my weekend is totally free" plan, and I have to say things turned out even better than expected. Besides allowing even more time for end-o-week indiscretions, it also exposes me to acts that don't usually play on Friday or Saturday night.

Guitarist and singer William Walter is one such performer who I've long typed into the calendar but have never seen live, my familiarity with him mostly coming from an mp3 or two on an old site. So I jumped at the chance to see the real deal.

Upon entering Orbit, it was immediately apparent to me that the trio of gentlemen onstage was a manifestation of the recently dubbed "William Walter Acoustic Trio," featuring Hunter Jones on mandolin, old WW cohort Tucker Rogers on lead guitar, and the man himself on guitar and vocals.

During a long wait that resulted from my showing up early rather than the group's being tardy, the performers fooled around with a laptop attached to Orbit's ceiling projector, finally coaxing it to display pastoral slides which continued throughout their performance.

First things first: Walter can sing, amazingly well. Resembling a Lindsey Buckingham (from Fleetwood Mac) or possibly a Jeff Buckley (from Mrs. Buckley) without the flamboyance, Walter's high soulful voice would be a singular surprise to anyone who had no contact with the artist previously (my notes say "voice like choir of angels," if that's any help with the description).

His songs fall in the folk-rock to country-folk range and are solid in construction and arrangement, but I have to say I caught only two lines of lyrics during the entire set ("I wish you well" and "I left for California" during the second song), though whether it was because of Orbit's sound setup or just Walter's method of singing, I'm not sure.

Lyrically lacking as I was, the group's sound was more than impressive– tight without being stodgy, the songs were replete with mandolin flourishes, great melodies, and the sense of a group of friends playing for the sake of playing and having a great time doing it.

A cover of Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" with a slight reggae feel broke up the set, and the "as we wind on down the road..." heavy section, played with a loose country-folk feel further emphasized Walter's vocal prowess.

I don't know what a gate, a hill, and assorted other bucolic scenes mean to William Walter, but the man has my permission to display anything from postcards to his third grade report card behind him– if he just keeps on playing.

And you have your chance to hear him Tuesday, March 9, at Starr Hill at 10:30pm. See the calendar listings for the inside scoop.

William Walter Acoustic Trio