Orion Walsh
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Orion Walsh

Lincoln, Nebraska, United States | INDIE

Lincoln, Nebraska, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"Walsh Set to Release "Hitchiker's Son""

Orion Walsh literally is "The Hitchhiker's Son," basing the title of his new album on himself and his father, who used to thumb rides.

That's an indicator of the nature of the songs on Walsh's second CD, an disc filled with singer/songwriter folk/rock that has a more personal turn than the songs on "Tornado Lullabies," his 2008 release that was filled with storytelling.

"In my old band, I used to write a lot of songs about my own life," Walsh said. "People could relate to that. When I did storytelling about fictional things, people liked it, but they couldn't relate to it. It's harder to put yourself out there. But people really do relate to it."

There also is another difference between "The Hitchhiker's Son" and "Tornado Lullabies." The older release has a country band feel with lap steel and standup bass. The A.J. Mogis-recorded "The Hitchhiker's Son" is folkier and less ornate, with Walsh playing most of the instruments.

"This one is more stripped down," Walsh said. "There's acoustic guitar, harmonica and kazoo. There are some songs on it that have a full band sound, but most of it is stripped down. In Nebraska, I play with a band. On tour, I don't. This one's more representative of what I do live."

It's also more reflective of Walsh's major influences: Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Woody Guthrie.

"For the most part, I really enjoy older music, classic rock, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones," he said. "That's what I listen to. Johnny Cash is my main influence, and then there's Dylan and Woody Guthrie."

That combination can be heard not only in the folk-rock arrangements of Walsh's music and his effectively dry vocal style, but in the lyrics, which sometimes are protest/activist and other times are revealing and insightful.

Walsh will hold a release party for "The Hitchhiker's Son" on Wednesday at the Bourbon Theatre. The CD will be for sale there and also will be released digitally on iTunes on Wednesday.

Walsh will hold another CD release show in Omaha on July 24, then he heads out on a tour that will take him through Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and the west coast.

"It's shoot through the Midwest, get out to the west coast and tour out there," he said. "I lived out there for eight years; people know me out there. I've never been to the east coast."

Walsh moved to California in 1996 after graduating from high school. Unlike most musicians who leave and never return, Walsh migrated back to Lincoln.

"There was a time when I told myself I'd never come back," he said. "Certain circumstances brought me home - the recession, the band I was in broke up. I just wanted to get a clean slate and join in a different music scene."

Walsh is now a key player on the Lincoln scene, but he's still a touring musician, hitting the road by himself in his car.

"I'd love to have a veggie-oil bus, but that's not feasible," he said. "It can get a little lonely compared to touring with a band. But this is the fourth time going out on tour by myself, so I'm used to it. I look forward to going out and playing."

Reach L. Kent Wolgamott at 402-473-7244 or at kwolgamott@journalstar.com, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KentWolgamott.

- Journal Star

"Travelin' Through"

Orion Walsh is enjoying time spent at home and playing local venues

By Michael McHale

Orion Walsh is on a journey. He’s not sure where he’ll finish.

He has plans for a tour this fall and more traveling in the future. In between, the guitar-playing, harmonica-toting musician is open to almost anything.

The local singer/songwriter will do whatever it takes to play music, and he’ll figure out a way to spread his tunes.

Walsh is hosting a CD-release concert for his debut album, “Tornado Lullabies,” at 9 p.m. Saturday at Box Awesome. He did most of the recording while living out of a van, and he got much of the inspiration from his struggles on the road.

Yes, he has stories from his travels.

“Sometimes we gotta do things we hate to do things we like,” Walsh, 27, said.

When he graduated from Parkview Christian High School in Lincoln, Walsh headed to the West Coast to attend Vanguard University of Southern California.

The wily student could play a guitar, and he joined a local punk rock band to show off his skills. But it didn’t take him long to begin second guessing.

“It was definitely a culture shock,” Walsh said. “You think you’re good at your instrument, and then you realize there are a million guitar players in Southern California. At first I was discouraged, honestly.”

But Walsh stuck around. His tastes were changing, and his punk attitude was fading. He joined a band called Slow Coming Day with some college friends, and the indie-rock group signed with a small record company in 2002. The guys traveled the country for the next several years, dropping out of school to chase their dreams of getting paid to play music.

But as the musicians reached their mid-20s, their styles and tastes continued to evolve. The band finally broke up in 2006, and Walsh began performing solo.

This time around, he had a country-folk sound with a harmonica to accompany the guitar. Walsh had picked up the small instrument during his days as an indie-rocker, and he wanted to display his new talents. He visited coffee shops and bars and any place that would let him play.

“I saw the crowd response to what I was doing by myself,” Walsh said, “so I knew it would work. I knew I had a chance to make a record.”

While recording his own album in Orange County, Calif., in 2007, Walsh didn’t have a place to stay — he never had much use for a house while touring with his old group.

He rented a room from a friend who was out of town sometimes, but usually he slept in his van.

Walsh turned to his music to break up the solitude. Folk and country gave him an outlet to explain his thoughts, to describe the journey that was his life.

“Even though they’re not in first person,” he said, “the stories that I do tell are references to my own life.”

Walsh finished his CD and returned to Lincoln in May. He’s been playing at local bars and in Omaha, and he’s been enjoying his time back home.

But there’s no telling how long he’ll stay. His journey is far from finished.

“I’m going to do a first tour solo (in November),” Walsh said, “and then with a band, eventually. But we’ll take one day at a time.”

- Lincoln Journal Star

"Local artist's album masterwork of American folk"

I've always loved Lincoln's music scene. Unlike Omaha's somewhat homogeneous and hype-driven stage, Lincoln is populated by an eclectic mix of artists from all walks of music. All of them support each other, interact with each other and push each other to be even better.

Since I moved to Lincoln in 2007, I've watched the Lincoln music scene develop even further. I've seen great acts come, and I've seen them go (I miss you Mucho Güt). And the variety of all I have seen come and go is what has impressed me most about Lincoln. That, and the support that the artists get from the community.

Take the example of a certain Orion Walsh.

Here's an artist I first heard in my friend's living room. He was all fiery folk music and social fury with just him and a guitar and an occasional harmonica. I liked it. I heard he was playing again at Duffy's with some bluegrass musicians, so I went again. And I admired his music even more.

Here's an artist that sprang up from nowhere and absolutely rocked my senses. Just one guy with an acoustic guitar, playing small stages like he owns them. Now I don't need to go to a stage to hear his music anymore. On July 15, 2008, Orion released his debut solo album "Tornado Lullabies," and it was unlike anything I could have expected.

I first played "Tornado Lullabies" expecting it to be a number of recordings of Orion doing his live thing. How wrong I was. Behind his usual folk fire croon is a backing band - a really good one - that adds an entirely new level of depth to Walsh's already driving music.

Behind many of my live favorites such as "Legend of Young Billy," "Throwing in the Towel," "Tornado Lullabies" and "Transient Blues" are trap sets, bass lines, electric guitars, lap steels, strings and even horn section hits.

Horns! Where did all this come from?

With this unexpected depth to his songs, they are driven even farther into the psyche. "Young Billy" sounds even more like a desperate flight from the law. "The Last American Boy" sounds even more like the desolate loneliness of the heartland. "Melt With the Snow" sounds like an even more tear-jerking ballad of an old man drifting into oblivion.

Along with the newly perfected backing instrumentation are Orion's already tested lyrics. Orion has been homeless in his time, and many of his songs reflect this. "Starting Over on a Western Shore," "Transient Blues" and "Tornado Lullabies" all touch on the desolate themes of homelessness and vagrancy with a kind of genuineness that could only come from someone who has been there. They're probably all true stories as well.

Themes of war, death, imprisonment, loneliness and eventual renewal permeate throughout the album, and the way in which Orion sings them makes them sink directly to the heart.

When the deep, heartfelt, expressive lyrics are combined with the perfectly suited instrumentation, the end result is a masterwork of new American folk music. The depth and expression that exude from all of "Tornado Lullabies" have quickly made the album one of my favorite recordings of 2008. Orion has made something truly wonderful as an artist from right here in Lincoln, and I can only look forward to what the future holds for both the city and him.

- The Daily Nebraskan


Tornado Lullabies LP - 2008
Freedom Lost, Freedom Found EP - 2009
The Hitchhiker's Son LP - 2010

KRNU 90.3 FM - "Freedom Lost or Freedom Found"
"Football Town"
"Run For The Hills"

KZUM 89.3 FM - "Tornado Lullaby"
"Transient Blues"
"Green Paper Black Lines"
"Good Things Come To Those That Wait"



American singer/songwriter Orion Walsh has been involved in the independent music scene for over 10 years now. He self released two full length albums "Tornado Lullabies" in 2008, "The Hitchhikers Son" in 2010, and one EP, "Freedom Lost, Freedom Found" in 2009. He also released a full length album with major label distribution, "Farewell to the Familiar" in his previous band Slow Coming Day back in 2003. His accomplishments also include releasing several songs for multiple compilations. Walsh has been touring for the past 9 years now and is no stranger to the road. Several of his songs have been used on television and independent films, the most noteworthy being on "Americas Next Top Model" of international fame. Having just toured the U.S. in support of his newest release "The Hitchhikers Son", which was produced by AJ Mogis (Bright Eyes, Cursive, The Faint) he plans to hit the road again in 2011 in support of the new release. Walsh also recently signed to indie label A-Reaction Music Group and plans to re-release "Freedom Lost, Freedom Found" in April 2011 with world wide distribution.