Benny Walker’s 2020 is off to a flying start as the singer, songwriter and guitarist prepares to release his fifth album and hit the Port Fairy Folk Festival stage for the first time.
“After many years of wanting to do it and things not quite working out, we managed to pull it all together and [I’m] very excited to have the opportunity to play the Folk Festival,” Walker explains. “I’ve had plenty of friends play it and go as punters and I’ve heard nothing but great things about it.
“I’m bringing along an extra band member in Xani Kolac who played violin on the album along with some guest vocals,” he continues. “There’s been a couple of singles released off the new album and we’ll have another one before Port Fairy so they’re in the setlist as well as previewing some of the new material with the band.”
Walker’s live performance is set to level up with a focus on a vibrancy that we’ve only seen glimpses of in his previous records.
“Every time I do something, I think it’s the best thing I’ve done,” he laughed. “I’m always trying to evolve and become a better songwriter, singer and guitar player.
“I never let genres confine the way I write, everything comes from a place that’s blues-influenced but it steps outside that and it’s definitely not strictly in that genre.
“I had more of a focus this time to try and make sure there were more upbeat and up-tempo songs because I was recording this album with the live show in mind,” he explains. “I can more readily go to the minor chords and the darker subject matter as I find that easier to tap into.
“I wanted to challenge myself by going to that up key setting which I’m hoping will translate really well live to keep the show rocking.”
Previously, Walker’s songwriting cast a wide depth on a range of issues and brought a deeper understanding of identity, love and how the two go hand-in-hand. While the proud Yorta Yorta man is still drawing on everyday experiences and philosophy in his writing, there’s now another spark.
“The more I write I think I try to write about things that aren’t so literal,” he says. “I try and say these things in a more poetic way.”
The Moama-based musician is definitely inspired by his surroundings on the mighty Murray River and even though the two-a-half hour drive to Melbourne can be weary, he wouldn’t trade his regional lifestyle for anything.
“I definitely clock up the kilometres but even if I was living in Melbourne I’d still have to travel to play,” Walker says. “For me living in the country, the lifestyle far outweighs the travel time.
“I love bringing up my two sons on Country where I grew up and having family around. It’s worth doing those extra hours in the car to have the lifestyle we do.”
Following the release of his album in April, Walker will be lining up tours both here in Australia and in Canada before settling back home and picking up his pen and paper again.
“I always try to roll off the back of an album with getting in as many shows as I can,” he said. “Once I get through that I dare say I’ll find myself doing a lot more writing again and seeing who I am as a person at that time in my life and what’s on the horizon.”
You can catch Benny Walker at Port Fairy Folk Festival, 6 – 9 March 2020. Tickets via www.portfairyfolkfestival.com/
Written by Kim Price
Photo by Jane Ashley