Walter Strauss

Walter Strauss

 Woodacre, California, USA

“Imagine blending Bruce Cockburn’s fingerstyle guitar with Joni Mitchell’s flair for subtle jazz elements, add ethereal world rhythms, and you begin to sense the extensive talent and wide-ranging influences Walter brings together.” - Gayle Olson, Hilltown Folk, Massachusetts


"A many-layered, multi-textured, one-man folk festival." Maverick Magazine, UK
"...dazzling...guitar-based music with an artistry that’s unparalleled." The Daily Freeman, Kingston, NY

If you haven’t heard Walter Strauss play, then you’ve never heard music like this before. This California guitar maestro's songs are full of the groove and fire of an African dance party, the dynamics and textures of a string orchestra, and the back-porch soul of American roots music. It’s out of this world music.
Walter Strauss digs deep grooves for his audiences - his singular guitar style layers on highly articulated melodies and harmonies, rhythms and counter-rhythms, giving the impression he is magically playing several instruments at once. His songs soulfully trace forgotten histories and life's paradoxes in the 21st century, and his vocals have a smooth wood smoke and whiskey intimacy that pulls the listener in, making them feel as if the song is for them alone. Walter's guitar interpretations of exotic world music are showstoppers. 

In addition to touring solo in the US and abroad, Walter has collaborated with wide-ranging talents, including a duo with 2010 Grammy-winning kora player Mamadou Diabate, guitar virtuoso Alex de Grassi, and The Burns Sisters. He’s worked with musicians from West Africa to Australia and Finland, and masterfully weaves threads of American roots, world music traditions, and jazz into a brand uniquely his own. Of late, Walter has been performing solo, in a duo with Wassoulou hunter’s harp player Mamadou Sidibe (Mali), and with The Walter Strauss Trio – with bassist Sam Bevan (David Grisman, Joe Craven) and drummer/percussionist Kendrick Freeman (Alison Brown, Joe Craven).

Before embarking on his solo career, Walter was widely respected as an ensemble musician, performing for more than 15 years at concert venues, theaters and festivals throughout the United States, Canada, England and Ireland. He toured extensively with Rounder Records’ eclectic folksters The Burns Sisters Band and performed alongside numerous first-rate musicians, such as fiddle legend Vassar Clements and British guitar luminary Martin Simpson.

Recently, Walter has established himself as a solo performer in the UK and Ireland. After his featured-guest performance on national BBC Radio 2, Walter received stellar press throughout the Isles then followed with a Spring ‘09 breakout tour of 22 clubs, arts centers, and festivals everywhere from London to Limavady. His Spring '11 Planet Solitaire CD release tour tour will take him to 25 UK venues and festivals throughout England and Scotland.

Walter's most recent project as a producer and arranger – former Waybacks frontman Stevie Coyle's creative concept CD "Ten in One" – has received rave reviews throughout the States and Britain.

Legendary British broadcaster Bob Harris gives Walter a big thumbs up, applauding “the glorious playing of Walter Strauss,” and “what a lovely album it is” [Pulling Shadows]. fRoots Magazine says simply, "The man is class.” Both live and on disc, he weaves together a cohesive quilt of musical styles and somehow renders each more 3-D, more psychedelic. Walter colors outside the lines.


In the Stone

Written By: Walter Strauss

It won’t be too long
You’ll see me vanish in the wind
A silent blue dome will wring sweet water from my skin
Where some Big Smoke cool pool runs down from the rim
And bone white sunlight is spilling time across the land

Redrock ringing through me
The silver hiss of a million suns
Slowly crumbling priests
Sandstone totems to nobody
Wind and water and heat
Carving fossils from ancient seas
Redrock ringing through me

Just before sundown on the big open
It’s like a fire ablaze in stone
Spires and hoodoos in the long light
Pulling shadows from the sun
A cool breath and the sweep of memory
Pooling in my bones
I’m a shimmer in the path of time gone

Redrocks circling me
They sing like water, these sundried beings
Standing like druid chiefs
Distilling time from the silent heat
A dancing cliffman was here
With painted stories, ten thousand years
I’ve seen his wandering dreams down here

Under my feet
In the stone
Like the old seas
Where did they all go
In the stone

Spring Song

Written By: Walter Strauss

I saw a newborn owl on a riverbank
Breathing steam into the air
When the spring comes down to the water's edge
The light's like gold in the morning air

Been a deep dark freeze gone everywhere
Burning us deep under the skin
But not a word of the war has made it down here
The ancient wheel's spinning round again

And there's wild lovemaking everywhere
You can smell it on the breath of spring
And even though the world is crumbling
At the hands of man
We're born again

I'm gonna lay you down in the river sand
And pour the sun into your skin
We're gonna roll all over one another and
Dig a lair we can get it on in

And we're wild lovemaking everywhere
We're crying out a song of spring
And even though the world is stumbling
It's born again
When we love again

The Buffalo Song

Written By: Marc Berger

Used to put a buffalo on your money way back when
But now you've chased him from creation
Hear tell we'll not be seeing him again
And they say that's just the price of progress

But I won't stoop to ask for proof
I won't ask which they went
If you will keep my Buick on the highway
In America your mother can become the president
And you can make your fortune on the phone

I never seem to find the time for a little garden in the yard
I see my kids are fully grown
They never understood why Daddy had to work so hard
To get so very little done

But I won't stoop to ask for proof
I won't ask which they went
If you will keep my Buick on the highway
In America your mother can become the president
And you can make your fortune on the phone


Pulling Shadows, Redstone Records 2006
Planet Solitaire, Redstone Records 2009 (EP - UK release only).
Planet Solitaire (full length LP) 2011. UK release May 2011, US release summer 2011.

The CDs have recently been receiving airplay on national BBC and RTE in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, most notably on legendary broadcaster Bob Harris' BBC2 shows, Iain Anderson's BBC Scotland show and Frank Hennessy's Celtic Heartbeat on BBC Wales.

Walter’s credits as a record producer and arranger include:

Stevie Coyle (formerly of the Waybacks) "Ten in One".
Walter Strauss "Pulling Shadows" (self-produced)
Jonathan Stevens "Missing in America"
Marc Berger and the Headcleaners "Beat of Life"
Walter Strauss "Planet Solitaire" (self-produced)

Walter's guitar has graced numerous recordings, including those of The Burns Sisters, Andy Rinehart (CMP Records), Benjamin Antell (Finland), and Mamadou and Vanessa (Mali).

Set List

Number and length of sets vary with concert. The most common arrangement is two 45 minute sets plus encores.

Original songs punctuated by upbeat instrumentals and guitar adaptations of music from far flung locales, particularly West Africa.

Here are typical sets for the most common format, consisting of 2 x 45 minute sets plus encores:

Set 1:

1) Djimbaseh
2) In the Stone
3) Spring Song
4) Ishi
5) Like Water
6) Love Puddle
7) Blue Horizon
8) Buddha’s Pillbox
9) Dustdevil

Set 2:

1) Salamander Blue
2) The Beast
3) New Years Day
4) Time Peace and Honey
5) Spinner's Cascade
6) Weather Rule
7) Blue Sky over Dreamland
8) Soutoukou
9) The Buffalo Song