Don’t call ’em country | VailDaily.com

Don’t call ’em country

Laura A. Ball

Special to the Daily Django Walker kicks off the return of the Street Beat free concert series tonight at 6 at Checkpoint Charlie in Vail Village. "Be ready to dance, yell, sing-along. Our vibe is fun, and that's the bottom line," Walker said.

VAIL – It’s a part of the interviewing process dreaded by musicians and journalists alike: describe your sound. Hip-house, soul-rock, electro-pop, country-hop? OK, that last category might not exist – yet. Despite the fact that music is only audibly tangible, what do all these rather unscientific classifications really mean in a world of cross-bred, cross-pollinated super-produced music? Like answering the question “what kind of music do you listen to?,” it might be easier for musicians to define their genre by what it is they don’t play. For the Django Walker Band, that genre’s country. The band’s frontman says there’s a notable difference between their style and modern country.”I cannot stand country music today,” said Django Walker. “I don’t like what they talk about. Their writing is childish. I just don’t believe in it, and I don’t want people to go around saying we’re country.”Son of Lone Star legend Jerry Jeff Walker, co-writer for Texas music blockbuster Pat Green and Dixie Chicks cohort, you’d think the frontman would have country written all over him. But what Walker sings and guitarist Greg Combs, drummer Rob Schilz and bassist Keld Ewart play is classic rock with undertones of good old Southern comfort. “It’s Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, that kind of songwriting, with a classic rock feel to it,” Walker said. “I grew up with that kind of country but I listened to rock ‘n’ roll, The Rolling Stones, Credence Clearwater, and that’s kind of what our style is,” Heir to a distinguished Lone Star legacy, the singer/songwriter does not forsake his musical roots. “My dad’s not really country even though some people consider him to be,” he said.Because of his father, music was a big part of Walker’s childhood. There was always a guitar laying around, a record being played, the Willie’s and the Guy Clark’s stopping by, he said. At the age of 16, he wrote his first song, “The Road You Choose.” Perhaps prophetic, it was the very song that propelled his own music career.

“I wrote it about a kid who grew up his whole life getting picked on, and he turned out to be a star. That was what I was going through. Someone working hard, trying to achieve something and all the sudden you become the cool person and the people that are picking on you are coming up and say, ‘Hey, man.’ The lesson was, don’t judge people,” he said. “I guess my dad liked it enough to egg me on and say, ‘You might actually make a career out of this.'” Shortly thereafter, Walker hit the road with his dad, playing “The Road You Choose” every night out on stage. He liked the crowd’s response enough to take his music to the next step, and moved to England to attend LIPA, Paul McCartney’s music academy in Liverpool. Two years into his degree, Walker wrote “Texas On My Mind.” Sang by Pat Green, the song became a hit back in Texas, and Walker decided to return home to try and ride the wave of his song’s success. He got a band together and they released their debut album, “Down the Road,” in 2002. Looking back, the album wasn’t really them, Walker said. “We’ve had a laugh about it,” he said. “We rushed through it. We had a big Texas producer, Lloyd Maines. He told us where to go and we went with it.”The band’s sophomore release, “Six Trip’s Around the World,” is another story. Inspired the way The Band made “Songs for Big Pink,” one of Walker’s favorite records of all time, he and the band moved into a house together on the ocean on South Carolina and each morning would walk downstairs and record music. For a month, they created music “inspired by falling in and out of love,” Walker said, and sat on the deck grilling in the evening and bonding long into the night.”Everybody’s mind is on making music. I wanted to do it that way,” he said. “Most people do records in their hometown and as soon as they leave, their minds are not on making the music. A record is a representation of your music for the rest of your life, and if you don’t take it seriously, you’re not going to be happy with it. We’re super proud of this album.”Regardless of how you classify their music, Walker and his bandmates say get ready to have some serious fun when they come out to play Street Beat in Vail Village tonight.”We’re serious about out music, but we’re not a serious band,” Walker said. “Be ready to dance, yell, sing-along. Our vibe is fun, and that’s the bottom line.”

Street Beat returnsThe Django Walker Band6 p.m. todayCheckpoint Charlie, Vail VillageWin a Volvo S-40 sedanWith the return of the Street Beat free concert series every Wednesday in Vail Village through April 19, residents of Eagle and Lake counties can also set their sites on where they would drive if they are lucky enough to win the season-long grand prize, as Volvo Cars of North American will once again give away a 2006 Volvo S-40 sedan to the lucky local at the final concert.

Out of town guests can also cash in as Volvo Cars of North America, the Vail Valley Foundation and the town of Vail have teamed up to provide the “Volvo Vail Grand Prize Guest Giveaway” for a lucky nonresident.The Volvo Vail Grand Prize Guest Giveaway, awarded on April 19 during the final concert with Boogie Machine, will include roundtrip domestic airfare for four, two double occupancy deluxe Vail accommodations for five nights, skiing for four or two rounds of golf for four and the use of a 2006 Volvo during the stay.In addition to the Volvo grand prize, all weekly participants are eligible to win a wide array of prizes during a raffle at each concert.For more information, call 949-1999 or visit http://www.vvf.org.Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado