Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman
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Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
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"Melody Walker heads to MerleFest (Concert Review, Festival Preview)"

This past weekend at The Brooklyn Folk Festival at The Bell House, I caught up with San Francisco-based Melody Walker and Jacob Groopman following an outstanding set that had the crowd hollerin’ louder than they did all day. The stop in Brooklyn preceded the “Americali Roots” duo’s trip south to MerleFest this coming weekend where they’ll compete in the festival’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest.

Groopman, who grew up a few streets over from me in my hometown of Richmond, VA, and Walker recently released a FREE to download album called Gold Rush Goddess and have since been touring. The duo also performs in Front Country, a fine newgrass band. AND, they’ve got something going on the side (wink, nudge, wink).

Here’s the MerleFest contest finalist song, “Black Grace.” Good luck, guys! - Grass Clippings (blog)


"David Bromberg...Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman (Concert Review)"

... "The opening act: Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman delivered intricate and wonderfully melodic songs with great picking and vocal harmony treatments in the style of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. But these likeable folks are not imitating Gillian and David. Their performance approach is unique and heartfelt and they are absolute professionals who did a fine job engaging with the audience and earning its appreciation. Their originals are well conceived and engaging and their instrumental skills are unquestionable." - CBA Bluegrass Breakdown


"No Depression - Melody Walker: Gold Rush Goddess (Interview)"

Melody Walker: Gold Rush Goddess
An interview by Terry Paul Roland

The best popular music of the last century has come with a built-in memory of what’s come before. The most common metaphor that’s been used is roots. That is – something dug deep in the earth. While this isn’t exclusive to what’s being labeled as American roots music, the artists who have made the greatest impact in defining the genre have done so on the shoulders of great artists of the past. As they should.

In the case of Melody Walker, the roots run deep and the resulting branches reach high into the clear skies of American music. A graduate of Humboldt State University, Walker is, at 27, already a veteran of world music. With a major music project, AkaBella, and an a capella world-fusion group already under her belt, she has experience that defies her age. Now collaborating with Virginia native multi-instrumentalist, Jacob Groopman, she has returned to her Americana roots with the debut solo album, Gold Rush Goddess.

An album to be reckoned with among the often homogenous and bland niche-heavy duo recordings in current release, it is at once pop-infused with an often solid funk groove that gives way to some well-crafted folk and bluegrass strains and well-crafted melodious, lyric-driven songs. If a glance at the common acoustic duo model of a soulful girl vocalist with a skilled instrumentalist such as the one pioneered by Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, causes the music to be written off as another imitation, then one will be missing out. Walker is Gillian Welch on Prozac. The music is shot through with joyful diversity, fresh original songs and an attitude that is unafraid to try something new on every track. Gold Rush Goddess is easily one of the strongest Americana releases of 2012.

Walker, like most in the generation of Americana artists hitting their late 20's and coming into their own as writers and musicians, points to The Beatles as inspiration. And the first exposure, as is typical, came from her parents. But beyond just helping shape her tastes with the records of others, Walker also points to her father Brian as a major influence. A man who she credits for her strongest roots in music.

“My dad was just a working class guy all his life. But, he always wrote songs. He was my inspiration,” she said, continuing, “Jacob and I opened for Darrell Scott the other night at a house concert in Oakland. He talked about his dad as a working guy who also wrote songs. It’s the same for me.”

When it comes to her childhood, she speaks without regret. And with pride in her voice, she explains, that while most kids talk about going to summer camp as kids, she spent hers attending the Strawberry Music Festival, where she ran wild as her father jammed bluegrass. But as a founding member of the group, The Hopeful Romantics, Melody explains that his goes beyond just bluegrass, writing songs ranging from Americana, to pop and rock. His impact on her music, clearly reflected in her style.

But the most striking thing about her album, is the variety of themes from the femme fatal, starting with the title track and leading up to musings about the end of days on “Not Today,” while the ironic song, “Gotta Write Love Songs,” is a complaint about the ‘obligation’ to write love songs. “Stars Align,” another instance where her dad came through. It is a sweet love song, penned by Brian Walker that fits Melody well.

And just as her influences have been untypical, so was her pathway to learning guitar, an instrument she began playing during the critical middle school years when she was diagnosed with scoliosis. Before this, she was not interested in guitar. Piano was her main instrument. Since she had to wear a back brace, she decided to pick up the guitar. This was during the days of the angst-ridden female singer-songwriters, like Jewel and Ani Difranco. Influences that helped begin Walker’s prolific songwriting life.

“I thought to myself, I can do this angsty-girl thing. I can have an alternative female voice. I identified with the sort of ‘Lilith Fair’ crowd,” she explained.

Destined for a life of prolific songwriting, Walker’s musical growth continued in college. Her years at Humboldt State University helped introduce her to world music. As she diversified with AkaBella and percussion groups, singing and dancing to world-fusion music, her calling began to unify through the music of her roots and her love for the music of her childhood. A chance meeting with someone else who shared that passion was also pivotal.

“As I explored the folk music around the world, even traveling to India and Brazil, I began to further appreciate the musical roots I had in America. I decided to dig deeper into my own folk music. It showed me you’ve gotta travel far away to appreciate where you come from,” she explained.

Then came her meeting with Jacob Groopman at a local gig with Albino, which was yet another, fundamental turning point in - Turnstyled Junkpiled (for No Depression)


"North Coast Journal - Americali: Melody Walker returns...."

the hum / By Bob Doran
Americali
Melody Walker returns, plus Zero, John Butler, Shemekia Copeland and Potluck with the Juggalos

(Aug. 11, 2011) Considering her melodious name, it’s not surprising that Melody Walker became a musician. After living for years in Humboldt and earning a music degree from HSU, Melody now lives in the East Bay with her musician boyfriend Jacob Groopman of The Real Nasty. When I caught up with Melody Tuesday morning via cell, she and Jacob were on their way to Caspar on the Mendo coast.

“We’ll be recording for a few days, doing my first studio album, all original music,” said Melody, explaining that the project was financed via IndieGoGo, an online fundraising platform similar to Kickstarter. “I raised five grand and reached my goal, plus $700 more. I figure it will cost me around $10,000; the rest will be out of pocket.”

the hum / By Bob Doran
Americali
Melody Walker returns, plus Zero, John Butler, Shemekia Copeland and Potluck with the Juggalos

(Aug. 11, 2011) Considering her melodious name, it’s not surprising that Melody Walker became a musician. After living for years in Humboldt and earning a music degree from HSU, Melody now lives in the East Bay with her musician boyfriend Jacob Groopman of The Real Nasty. When I caught up with Melody Tuesday morning via cell, she and Jacob were on their way to Caspar on the Mendo coast.

“We’ll be recording for a few days, doing my first studio album, all original music,” said Melody, explaining that the project was financed via IndieGoGo, an online fundraising platform similar to Kickstarter. “I raised five grand and reached my goal, plus $700 more. I figure it will cost me around $10,000; the rest will be out of pocket.”
Melody Walker
GALLERY >

Despite the sorry state of the music biz, she’s not worried about the return on her investment. She knows she’ll make the money back. “You can totally do it; you just have to leave town. You have to tour your ass off, but every night you play, people will buy your CD.”

She calls her semi-folky style “Americali” noting, “That word is copyrighted. It’s basically Americana with a California twist, a little world music, a little jamband. I don’t know, maybe not ‘jamband,’ Jacob doesn’t like that.” (He’s her arranger, and apparently he grimaced at the word while listening in on our interview.) “You could say there’s a New Age spirituality to it. It’s folk with a traditional edge, but with my provocative nature in the mix. I grew up with traditional folk, but also pop like the Beatles, and I really got into provocative songwriters like Ani DiFranco.”

After a few busy days recording, Melody and Jacob leave Mendo for a very busy Friday. “Friday morning we play the Head to Head Dead fest in Redway — I think we’re the first act. We’re busting out a couple of Dead tunes for that. We’ve been doing Merle Haggard’s ‘Sing Me Back Home’ that the Dead covered, then we’ll do something off Working Man’s Dead, the Dead’s bluegrassy record.”

After the morning set they head to Ferndale to play on KHUM in the afternoon, then to Jambalaya for a Friday night show. “We’re playing with our new friends, The T Sisters. They have great harmonies, kind of like The Roches, and they’re really sisters. Two are twins actually.” (The three sisters are Erika, Chloe and Rachel Tietjen.)

Also on the bill, The Bucky Walters, back home after playing the festy circuit. “It’s always a good time with The Buckies,” says Melody. ‘It’s bahl hornin’ — that’s Boontling for good drinkin’ music. You know their band name is Boontling too; it means phone booth. The only remaining phone booth in Boonville says Bucky Walters on it. Don’t ask me to explain why.” - North Coast Journal


"Popshifter - Melody Walker, Gold Rush Goddess (review)"

by Kai Shuart

...This is an outstanding record. The opening title track, “Gold Rush Goddess” intertwines the earthy images of dynamited mountains and the lusty image of a woman dancing for money and melds them into a cohesive allegory for exploitation, as evidenced in the lyric “Come down off that mountain/come down all you men/but don’t you come knockin’ without money in your hand.”

This does not mean that the entire album is meant to be taken as seriously. “Family Band” is a sing-along if there ever was one, with images of a traveling band lifted straight out of Willie’s “On the Road Again.” She seems to know very well that this song will be a concert staple in the future, as she put the chord progression and lyric sheet in the CD packaging (yeah, I tried to play it) for the edification of the listener.

The cover material is well-chosen and inventively arranged. Blondie’s new wave classic “Dreaming” is dressed up in mandolins (gracefully provided throughout the entire album by partner Jacob Groopman) and acoustic guitars, taking the song from its CBGB roots and turning it into something not out of character for the likes of Steve Earle or Lucinda Williams.

In summary, Gold Rush Goddess is an album from an artist that not only knows her roots are in the American soil, but isn’t afraid to shake that soil off and have a good time.

Gold Rush Goddess will be released in March 2012. For more on Melody Walker, please check out her website. - Popshifter


"No Depression - For Melody Walker... Dreaming is F-R-E-E"

Mention the word “free” in this economy, and there's a good chance that folks will click on my post today to find out what we're giving away. Or so Melody Walker is hoping. Because she has a new album out and it's yours for free. Or at least the digital version is yours for the taking, and you'll find the download link for it at the end of this piece.

Along with her musical partner Jacob Groopman, my young friend Melody Walker has produced an album of exceptional tunes and tones that I believe that this community will respond to. This is indeed a community, a much different animal than the paper and print model. And this woman is actually a full-fledged member...with her own page, friends, several well written posts and she often contributes insightful and intelligent comments to the blog posts of others. So she's one of us. This story takes you from our first contact over a year ago, through the agony and ecstasy of the creative process, living one's dreams and navigating the choppy waters of today's music business. It's a long story I suppose, but hell...for a free album, at least you can do is read the damn thing.

One night about 400 days ago, Melody Walker found her way to the No Depression website and made the decision to become a member of this community. She signed up and created her page, uploaded pictures of herself, some videos and three songs that she had recently recorded. At exactly 2:00 in the morning on January 31st she posted her first blog entry. The title was a bit on the long side: "Gold Rush Goddess" - Melody Walker on writing an eco-feminist old-time folk song with an Afro-Cuban twist”. I make a habit of reading pretty much every community blog whether they get featured on the front page on not. I figure that if somebody wants to take the time to write something that's special to them and share it, at least I can do is take the time to read it.

Melody's post was about how she got the inspiration for a particular song after a long day busking at an art-walk in Eureka. That's in Northern California. She and her friends ended up at a seedy bar owned by the local alleged KKK leader named Whitey, which featured topless dancers in the back room. While that subject alone might have been of particular interest, something about Melody's writing style caught my eye.

Here are the second and third paragraphs:

“Just as we were about to get the hell out of there, an old friend from the Menstrual Mondays open mic we used to host, walked up in a white trench coat and invited us to come back and watch her dance. We had no idea she did any such thing, so we were of course curious. We haggled with Whitey for a while, and he finally let us all in the back for a reasonable group price.

Our homegirl Jess, a.k.a. “Cherry”, was not your average stripper. She had her darkness, but she was also an excellent songwriter and singer, so we weren’t too surprised when she put on Tom Waits as her first dance. She was way better than we expected and she completely enchanted us, with her swirling long dirty-blond hair and seasoned undulations. Since we were only one of two groups in the back room, we got more than enough attention, and in some kind of strange transference, all of our hard-earned busking tips wound up tangled in her thong after just a few songs.”

Busking...an open mic night called Menstrual Mondays...stripping to Tom Waits...tips tangled in her thong. I admit to having been enchanted.

There was more to the story, a link to the song, the lyrics, a few pictures and a final paragraph that made me scratch my head and wonder who the hell this young woman was and what she was talking about:

“The ending “holler” is actually a folkloric Yoruba chant for “Oshun”, the Afro-Cuban goddess of gold, rivers and flirtation. My global vocal group AkaBella had done an arrangement of a series of songs for her, and we had learned them directly from our Cuban song teacher Reynaldo Gonzales. I guess I didn’t realize until the song was written that my “Gold Rush Goddess” was not a new archetype at all, but an incarnation of many mischievous seductresses that came before her. Maybe that’s subconsciously why I decided to be Kali-Ma for Halloween that year!”

I'm a simple man. Making music is a passion, as is listening and writing about it. Every day songs come rolling through the air and into my ears and mind. Quite often I don't listen to lyrics. The sum of the whole, and all that jazz . Other times I carefully follow along and listen to each word. When artists create something special, I'm often guilty of just accepting the gift without wondering from where, how, why and whence it has come from. So when the composer shares in detail, and especially when she starts rambling far above my intellectual capacity, I get curious.

And so began what is now an almost thirteen month email conversation with Melody, which at times feels like a scene from the wonderful movie My Dinner With Andre, where Wallac - No Depression


"Twangville - Melody Walker, Gold Rush Goddess (Album Review)"

Kris Kristofferson famously wrote “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”. Although it became an anthem for a certain lifestyle back in the 70's, Kristofferson himself would probably admit life’s a little more nuanced than that. Whether consciously or not, Melody Walker seems to be exploring a lot of those shades of gray in her debut album, Gold Rush Goddess.

The record starts off with the title track, a sort of feminist viewpoint on being a female in California in the 1850's. ”Just shaking what God gave me, so feel free to stare” probably wasn’t the prevailing attitude of the times. Next up is Family Band, a nice ditty about choosing who you hang with, or at least knowing what you prefer. There’s also the closer, a cover of Blondie’s Dreaming, where the protagonist observes wistfully over a cup of tea that “dreaming is free”. My favorite, though, is Do What You Love Blues. It starts with a gospel-tinged chant that manages to quickly equate life in a cubicle to a modern day chain gang, where Walker later proclaims “life’s about freedom, and it ain’t cheap”. Amen sister!

Musically, Gold Rush Goddess stretches across a number of genres. The majority of tunes clearly fall into an indie-grass kind of feel with Melody’s vocals, guitars and keyboards matching well to partner Jacob Groopman’s harmonies and more-than-solid bass, mandolin and guitar accompaniment. A couple of songs fall more towards a simple folk arrangement, but in yet another direction Gotta Write Love Songs has a pop sound and hook that could just as easily be Gaga or Adele as an unknown singer-songwriter from San Francisco.

No one can really predict what will catch the attention of an NPR producer or the hipster crowd. But Melody Walker clearly has the chops to support indie/Americana singer-songwriter stardom. You can’t go wrong checking out her debut album.
- Twangville


"East Bay Express - Local Licks (Album Review)"

Melody Walker, Gold Rush Goddess

There's no debating Melody Walker's skill as a folk singer, even if she occasionally relies on hackneyed analogies. Her scores feature a battery of string instruments and the occasional shaker — which manages to create the illusion of an ample rhythm section. Walker's voice is lithe, her sentiments vivid. (self-released) - East Bay Express


"Melody Walker - Gold Rush Goddess (Album Review)"

We recently received Gold Rush Goddess, a very cool release from Melody Walker that we can only subscribe as soothing vocals with a bad-ass attitude. Just listen to the title track; the blues-infused Get Back; or the a capella turned bluegrass ramble in Do What You Love Blues. You want soothing; then check out the mini-lullaby in Stars Align, the hypnotic Martinez, and the only cover, Dreaming. Ms. Walker and partner Jacob Groopman fuse Appalachia with various West Coast sounds to form a very impressive set of music. - My Joog


"Melody Walker is making an album"

I mentioned this in post on Beat Surrender a few weeks back, just in case you missed and because it’s getting near I’m hoping I can persuade a few more folks to put a few dollars in the pot and support this project, times are tough in rock n roll and Kickstarter, Pledge and IndieGoGo are offering artists a great opportunity to get their music out there, I’ve made personal pledge to put aside some of my music “budget” each month to back a project, this is one of them.

....

Melody Walker is in the process of raising funds for her debut full length album, she’s using a her three track EP, entitled simply III to aid the effort and there’s an interesting back story to the lead off track Gold Rush Goddess – which you can check out at No Depression, the EP features Melody on tenor banjo, guitar and vocals with musical partner Jacob Groopman on mandolin, guitar and vocals, on the strength of the three tracks the album’s definitely worth a punt. - Beat Surrender


"Melody sings to her own tune"

Martinez native singer/songwriter Melody Walker credits Armando’s and Alhambra High School’s Performing Arts Building as two of the many reasons she’s sticking around her old stomping grounds for the time being.

Both venues opened to the public while Walker was away studying voice, piano and percussion at Humboldt State University.

“Armando’s is a big thing that will keep me coming back here, it’s an awesome venue and definitely one of the best things going on in town,” Walker enthused during an interview Wednesday. “The PAB was just getting completed when I was leaving [AHS] and it’s another nice venue that I think is very empowering for the [AHS] kids.”

Since graduating from Humboldt, Walker has been ramping up her music making and performance schedule.

Tonight she is one of the headliners at Armando’s, taking the stage with her musical and romantic partner Jacob Groopman. By day she’s been working on new songs and conducting a “crowd funding” effort, which is an online fundraiser aimed to amass enough cash to record her next album. So far she’s raised $385 in the week since she’s launched the effort, with a goal of $5000.

“Developing her own “Americali” sound,” according to one of her bios, “Melody Walker has been reborn into the SF Bay Area music scene with a vengeance, bringing her soulful songwriting to a new level.” Another bio describes her musical background,“Starting with piano at age six and then guitar at 13, Melody’s classical ear grew alongside the myriad musical tastes of her parents, which ranged from the Beatles to Bill Monroe to Bossa Nova and back again. Soon, she was writing original songs and forming bands with her friends in middle and high school.”

Walker said this week that while she is contemplating her next move – perhaps to Nashville in order to rub elbows with music business movers and shakers – she is making the most out of her Martinez home base.

A resident since birth, Walker said she is currently staying with her parents (Brian and Gigi Walker) in the same house she grew up in. After graduating from Alhambra High School in 2003, Walker left immediately for the far northern reaches of California.

There she joined an acoustic folk trio named the Vintner’s Daughters and co-formed the popular a capella vocal group AkaBella, which is “dedicated to learning, sharing and performing traditional songs from around the world,” as the group describes itself.

“AkaBella is my biggest project to date, in that we went on a huge West Coast tour last year,” Walker said. The group have released one CD so far, The Beltane Sessions. “I was already a solo singer/songwriter when I went away to Humboldt, but there I learned how to collaborate with other people, I got into more group projects and exploring world music too.”

Having been raised as a performer by her musician parents, Walker said she is very much rooted in Americana folk music: father Brian Walker currently plays the mandolin in the popular group The Hopeful Romantics.

“He definitely influenced me, raised me on folk and bluegrass. And ever since I was a wee baby until probably 15, my parents took me to the Strawberry Music Festival every year.”

At Humboldt, Walker got hooked on world music, attending a school trip to Brazil to study percussion, and writing her own grant so that she could spend a month in India learning southern Indian music.

“There aren’t too many resources [in the Bay Area] to learn southern Indian music, while it’s on a different energy level than music from northern India; it’s a little more folky. I was able to get half the trip paid for [via the grant] and I stayed at a cultural center that had housing and would hook you up with teachers,” described Walker. “Part of my grant promised to learn the music and share it with the rural Humboldt community, so I learned several classic pieces and performed them as part of my senior recital.”

One potential life path Walker is contemplating is earning a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology, so when she was in India, she “took lots of field notes and recordings, trying to be very scientific about it.”

Tonight’s performance is the first time Walker will be headlining her own show at Armando’s, although she’s appeared on-stage there a few times as part of the club’s Americana Sunday series. She’s always participated in the West Coast Songwriter’s Competition held at Armando’s monthly; she’s won two Best Song awards for her original compositions; those songs and more are on her new record, “III EP,” which she plans to officially release at tonight’s gig.

Although she may have to move away to one of the U.S. music capitols “to do what I need to do,” Walker said she loves her hometown and definitely sees herself settling down her later on down the road.

“I recorded my first album at the [now closed] Shakey Hand Gallery,” said Walker. “Now I’m returning to the singer/songwriting style, except now as a duo [with Groopman] with a tal - Martinez News Gazette


"Music Monday: The Aptly Named Melody Walker Is A Martinez Musical Tradition"

Melody Walker is a Martinez tradition, even though she’s still relatively young. The daughter of Martinez Music Society co-founder Brian Walker, Melody has been playing and singing her songs for local audiences for many years. She and partner Jacob Groopman will be performing a show at Armando’s this Friday, with special guest the Evie Laden Band. Walker is having an “unofficial CD Release Party” Friday to debut her new CD she made with Groopman called “Gold Dust Goddess.” She and Groopman are preparing to depart for an East Coast tour next week.

We asked Walker some questions about her thriving musical career.

Q: What would you say Americali music is?

A: "Americali" is a genre I came up with to describe some of the awesome root's based music I see all around me. Music based in American folk and blues tradition but taking a contemporary bent on it, either with the songwriting forms or by bringing in more eclectic elements from other styles or cultures. For my music, the "Cali" part is all about bringing some new-age spirituality and activist consciousness into styles like Bluegrass and Old-Time which, in their traditional forms, tend to be more Christian and passive. Evie is another example of someone who was steeped in Old-Time string band music her whole life, but tends to write modern laid-back California love songs over traditional style banjo playing.

Q: You went off into the world, graduated college and came back to the 94553. Why?

A: I went up to Humboldt County to get my "country" back (you know, how Stella got her groove back?). Spent seven years in the proverbial "woodshed" up there in the trees and the greenery, and then knew it was time to come on back down to earth. The catalyst was meeting Jacob, who lived in Berkeley at the time, and lured me back down here with promises of music and romance. So far, so good!

Q: Talk a little about your new album. How did that come about?

A: The new album and the moving-down-here and the new love are all pretty interconnected. I learned a lot about music in Humboldt, not just in school but in multiple bands of a "world-music" variety. I stopped playing solo and writing songs for me and delved into the collaborative experience for a good three or four years. A song would come through every once in a while, but I would just let them simmer on the back burner, dreaming of one day making my "studio debut" LP.

My last year in Humboldt I was substitute teaching public school music classes in Eureka, teaching private lessons to kids through Humboldt State University and working part-time in a local music instrument shop. I also had started a lady-folk trio with two of my best songwriter friends and we scored a weekly dinner gig at our favorite funky restaurant the "3 Foods Cafe". Our gig was the popular "Times Are Tough Tuesdays" $5 all-you-can-eat spaghetti night and I actually ended up playing upright bass about half the time. We played a mix of originals, traditionals and folkified covers (like a bluegrass version of Beyonce's "Single Ladies") and it really got my juices flowing again. There's nothing like a weekly gig to kick you in the pants to finish songs, and I started writing new stuff. Not all of it fit in with the Vintners' Daughters vibe, so I started saving up songs for my own "someday" album. (by the way, we were called that because each of our fathers made wine in some way: Amanda's dad managed a big Napa winery, Nola's dad worked for Franzia in Manteca for years, and Mr. Walker makes terrible wine in his garage!)

I moved back down here to Martinez (living with the parents for a while till I got back on my feet) and now I live in Richmond. Jacob and I first started playing together casually, and then he agreed to back me up at a couple West Coast Songwriters competitions. We won our very first one at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley with "Gold Rush Goddess" (the title track of the new album) and then won our second one at Armando's with "Black Grace" (also on the album). We started really getting into this duo sound and began cultivating a set. I started dusting off some old songs that had never even seen the light of day and we started playing them out live to very positive reviews. Just over the last six months we've seen some amazing gigs come our way: we got to play with Bruce Cockburn and Tony Furtado.. and literally jam with them on stage.

Things have progressed very rapidly in the past year and it became apparent that I really needed to make a real record to sell at shows and share around the world. I started fundraising online in February 2011, and by the July deadline had raised over $5,000 from friends, family, fans and strangers. The album cost twice that much to make, and it sounds really really good! I want to make it available to my donors and die-hard fans this Friday (and to have it for our East Coast tour next week), but I am giving myself three more months to release it properly and send it off t - Patch.com


"This Band Is Her Band: Melody Walker’s “III EP’s” Down-Home Alternative “Americali” Goodness"

It ain’t quite blues, ain’t quite bluegrass. Ain’t quite alternative, country, roots, or rock…so just what is “Ameri-Cali?”

A visit to Melody Walker‘s Reverbnation page is a feast for the music lover’s eyes and heart, soul and ears: according to her fan page there, her tones play well together where Folk, Indie Pop, and Americana converge. It reads:

“[Melody Walker's] songs are provocative and pure, in a balance that has won Melody two Best Song awards from the West Coast Songwriters competitions. Those two songs and a third can be found on the new record, ‘III EP,’ to be released on disc in February 2011.”

Warm up your iPod and CD players folks, ’cause it’s on! February’s here and as promised, three brand new tracks from Walker’s charming “III EP” collaboration have arrived in tow. Melody’s songs were recorded with partner Jacob Groopman (Opus Records’ Real Nasty Band) and produced by five-time Grammy nominated producer/engineer Cookie Marenco at the Bay Area-based OTR Studios.

San Francisco area vocal coach John Scott (JDSVoice.com) chimed in with his heartfelt support for “III EP” saying, “This is awesome! Melody did a pre-production session with us and then went straight to Cookie and recorded these tracks live. I’m very proud of the work they did.”

Visiting MelodyWalkerMusic.com will have you diggin’ even deeper into record crates. On her homepage, Melody calls some of her work “eco-feminist old-time folk music with an Afro-Cuban twist.

Given up on the “music genre boxes” yet? We thought you would. Why not accept it all? Melody Walker’s inimitable artistry is a little something’ she likes to call “Americali” style.”

Songs from the new release–which you can preview for free at the online destinations mentioned above–bring to mind Alison Krauss, Woody Guthrie, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Ani DiFranco’s folky explorations, and down-home selections with post-modernist themes, playful fiddles’ riffs and haunting, hearty life-stories. Walker’s ever-blossoming repertoire in a range of styles is taking an enchanting stop. But it’s not all-too cheeky or high falutin’: you’ll just have to feel your way through these tracks. These songs are all heart.

So: all aboard this mashup of “Americali” Alt-Americana, where the transcendent and the traditional shake hands and stomp their feet. Care to join us? - JDS Voice Blog


Discography

2011 - Melody Walker - III EP

2012 - Melody Walker - Gold Rush Goddess

2013 - Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman - We Made It Home

Photos

Bio

- WINNER OF THE 2013 CHRIS AUSTIN SONGWRITING CONTEST!

- New Duo Record "We Made It Home" produced by Grammy-winning producer Laurie Lewis comes out Oct. 1, 2013.

- Their bluegrass band Front Country won both the Telluride 2013 and RockyGrass 2012 band competitions.

For a duo that has existed for only two short years, Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman have accomplished some amazing feats! Following the release of Melody's critically acclaimed debut album Gold Rush Goddess, Melody and Jacob have toured all over the US as a duo and in up-and-coming progressive bluegrass band Front Country. Gold Rush Goddess was named one of No Depression's top 50 albums of 2012, and this April, Melody won the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest for her secular humanist gospel song "Black Grace". Front Country took home the gold in both the RockyGrass and Telluride band competitions and is up for an IBMA Momentum Award this fall. Between these triumphs, Melody and Jacob occasionally make it back to their San Francisco Bay Area home, rebuilding their lives together as two people whose bond has only tightened with all this travel and success.

In October 2013, Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman will release their first duo album We Made It Home, capturing the essence of their experiences on the road and of returning. Produced by bluegrass/roots music legend Laurie Lewis, the album projects comfort and intimacy. Their voices raised in harmony, their instruments intertwined, Melody and Jacob’s original songs and carefully chosen covers tap into their collective eclecticism. Under the layers of rich acoustic tones and powerful vocals, the songs draw from the realms of astronomy, ethnomusicology, feminism, folklore, and family history. The power of Melody and Jacob’s duets make these different topics seem natural together, like a fascinating dinner table conversation, and the ease with which they create music together can only be born from two people who’ve traveled long miles, learning to find home wherever they are.

Before meeting in Northern California, Melody Walker and Jacob Groopman both grew up surrounded by sound. Melody was the daughter of a blue collar songwriter father and grew up listening to everything from the Beatles to Bill Monroe. After studying percussion and voice at Humboldt State University and in India and Brazil, she co-founded the women’s world fusion a cappella group AkaBella.

Originally from Richmond, VA with Appalachian musical ancestry, Jacob fell hard for his first love, rock ‘n’ roll, but it was the West Coast stylings of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead that turned him on to American folk music. He studied jazz guitar at Oberlin College, dabbling in jug band music before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area and jumping into the local bluegrass scene. Before teaming up with Melody, Jacob toured extensively with the Afrobeat band Albino! and country-rockers The Real Nasty.

On We Made It Home, Melody’s songs well up from her diverse philosophical interests. “Black Grace,” a beautiful song, which won Melody first place at the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest in the gospel category, combines scientific and religious definitions of heaven to create a secular humanist gospel song of remarkable depth and power. “Yellow Haired Girl” reminds the listener of early feminist anthems like "Wagoner's Lad" or The Carter Family’s “Single Girl,” but draws more from the legacy of singer-songwriters like Tori Amos and Ani DiFranco who unmask the brutal reality of our culture’s exploitation of women. Throughout We Made It Home, Melody and Jacob craft old traditions with modern twists. From the folk roots sounds of “Billy the Champ” (an ode to a boxing ex-circus chimp), to the somber mandolin and vocal subtlety of “Sweet Sunny South,” and from the refreshing and just down-right-fun cover of Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” to the closing track, a flawless take on Peter Rowan’s song “Mississippi Moon,” it’s a jubilation to hear these two playing music together.