Fingerstyle guitar virtuoso and blues master Toby Walker will perform Friday, September 16, at 8:00 pm at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, 21 Normandy Heights Rd, Morristown. Opening act will be Jean Scully and Rachel Streich.
The concert is part of The Minstrel Acoustic Concert Series, sponsored by The Folk Project each Friday evening at the Fellowship. Admission is $7.00 per person at the door. For further information, call 973-335-9489, or visit www.folkproject.org.
Toby Walker says a chance encounter when he was 15 changed his life. “I was carrying my guitar down the street, this guy yelled out 'Hey, what do you play?' I said, 'Blues.' I thought I did, but I didn't know what I was talking about. I tried to sound cool. 'So who do you play?' he asked me. He got me there. He took me to his basement and showed me more albums than I had ever seen: Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Robert Johnson. I just absolutely flipped out, and I spent a better part of the summer in that basement.” Soon his thirst for knowledge had him traveling down Highway 61 to the Mississippi Delta to find obscure blues players, underdogs, or “guys who missed the boat,” he said. His search and his talent have taken Toby Walker from the Mississippi Delta to concert halls and festivals throughout the U.S., England and Europe. He has been featured in The N.Y. Times, London Sunday Times, Downbeat and Blues Revue, among many others. His mastery of the blues was recognized in Memphis in 2006, when he won the International Blues Challenge Award. He has recorded nine albums. The latest, Speechless … for once was released in 2010.
A Toby Walker performance features many styles. He is an expert at fingerpicking, ragtime and bottleneck guitar. He's most noted for the Piedmont style of fingerpicking, where he juxtaposes melodies against alternate bass lines. He can play a shuffle with one thumb, lead guitar and rhythm with his other fingers, and slap the guitar percussively with his right hand; and when he does this, he can sound like a full band. Toby also has a sturdy blues voice and strong original blues songs, like his instrumental tribute to Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson, called “Blind Man's Bluff.”
Bob Vorel, of the Blues Revue, said of Toby: “If you played that guitar any better you'd likely burn it up.” And David Massengill says, “Toby Walker is that rare performer that takes your breath away. In my book he's in a class by himself. Standards and originals are played with flawless blues guitar technique and sung with gutsy panache. A showstopper and a ringtail roarer.”
The Folk Project is a non-profit 501(c) Corporation whose mission is to present high caliber folk music performances and instructional workshops for the public and members; to encourage development of musicianship and performance skills in the northern New Jersey area; and to provide interesting social and learning activities relating to traditional and participatory folk music and dance.