Photo | Zack Smith
Seth Walker will open the Harvest Nights live music series at Weeks Bay Plantation Saturday, May 5.
Band: Harvest Nights featuring Seth Walker
Date: Saturday, May 5, with gates at 4 p.m.|
Venue: Weeks Bay Plantation, 12562 Mary Ann Beach Road (Fairhope),
Tickets: $5 at the door (free for blueberry pickers)
Live music devotees are always looking for new experiences, and over the past two years Weeks Bay Plantation has featured a number of unique live music events in its beautifully agrarian setting.
This organic blueberry farm first brought music to its organic setting through the multiday Blueberry Jam Sessions. The resulting local enthusiasm led to new stages being built and the creation of The Blueberry Sessions, which hosted Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer, Griffin House and many more.
With the blueberry season in full swing, Weeks Bay Plantation is incorporating the two things for which this location is known. From May 5 to June 16, they’ll combine blueberry harvest season with live music on “Harvest Nights’.” Each Saturday the public is invited to spend the evening picking blueberries and enjoying live music. These events will also feature food trucks and a local vendors’ market.
Singer-songwriter Seth Walker will be Harvest Night’s first featured performer. The last time Lagniappe spoke with Walker, he was on tour promoting his 2016 full-length recording, “Gotta Get Back.” His momentum has not slowed.
The following year, Walker released the single “Spirits Moving.” He says this raucous culmination of funky jazz grooves came to life during the 2017 installment of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. However, the festive Crescent City march of “Spirits Moving” took form through Walker’s regular visits to the Big Easy over four years. During those visits, Walker was filled with the music of the city, both figuratively and literally.
“The whole city is syncopated, and I’m not just talking about the music,” Walker explained. “The whole place is vibrating. I’ve always felt that when I was down there, the spirit of inspiration has been on the move. So the song just kind of fell out one day. The pulse around Jazz Fest just added to that.”
As Jazz Fest brought artist after artist to the Big Easy, Walker began searching for musicians to join him in the studio for the creation of “Spirits Moving.” According to Walker, the final lineup of session musicians was a personal dream team. John Medeski (Medeski, Martin & Wood) injected the song with a hot dose of Hammond B3. Walker says he was thrilled to have the Big Easy drumbeat of John Vidacovich included on “Spirits Moving.” Vidacovich came by way of Walker’s housemate, Doug Belote, who also provides his percussive talents on this track.
Jano Rix (The Wood Brothers) produced the single. This multi-instrumentalist’s previous work with Walker includes producing “Gotta Get Back” and performing on his album “Sky Still Blue.” Walker says Rix’s talent for both pushing and relaxing him in the studio is a big reason why he continues to work with him. Even though Rix’s impressive talent made him nervous in the studio, Walker says the group’s musical bond quickly took shape.
“We all speak a similar language,” Walker said. “So, as soon as we got in that room together, it was unspoken words that we all understood. I do remember the first take that we did of that. It all felt great, but we had to get the tune underneath us. By the second or third take, we had it all down.”
After releasing his love song to New Orleans, Walker followed with the release of his first live album, “Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.” Walker said this is an album both he and his fans have been anticipating for a long time, but it ultimately came to life through a “stealth, ninja recording” process. Walker recalls this particular show at this venue in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, was a “fun show with a great vibe,” but he had no idea it was being recorded.
After his performance, someone from the venue asked him to come “upstairs,” where he entered an impressive studio filled with in-house mics and pre-amplifiers that had captured the performance.
“We didn’t know [the recording] was happening,” Walker said. “That’s always the best. Sometimes when you’re recording, you can get ‘red light fever.’ This was not the case, and it came out great. It was truly a live experience with mistakes and all.”
Walker said the most vivid aspect of this impromptu recording is the way it captured the magical, symbiotic chemistry he shares with his audience. He notes this chemistry is the driving force behind his busy tour schedule and it echoes through his performance of such tracks as “Grab Ahold,” “Fire in the Belly” and “Gotta Get Back.” Walker also notes this chemistry shows itself in different ways with each performance.
With his first live album out of the way, Walker wants to add more live shows to his catalog in order to capture the diverse aural vibes that emerge from each live show.
“[Live recording] definitely worked that time,” Walker says. “I would like to put some other live music out. That was all one night. Each night is a different thing, depending on the venue and the energy of the evening and how we’re playing and how we’re acting. I would like to put more out, because each night has its own thing.”
As he maintains his rigorous tour schedule, Walker is also beginning to record his next full-length album. He hopes this as yet untitled release will be ready for public consumption in early 2019. As far as what fans can expect, Walker says he’s experimenting with new lo-fi and hi-fi recording techniques. The singer-songwriter has been collecting samples of “sound checks and grooves” during pre-show sessions and plans to use these samples as looping tracks within his songs.
Walker has also opted to track this album at home with his collection of gear. He says this aspect makes it seem like he’s “living in this record.” Hopefully he’ll be road-testing some of this new material with the blueberry pickers at Weeks Bay Plantation.