By Chuck Cox
One of my biggest pet peeves as a music fan is when people tell me there’s “no good music out there today.” Nonsense. Great music is everywhere. In fact, the chance for great music grows exponentially by the day as more and more artists emerge.
Case in point Butch Walker, who played on Monday night at the Kessler. Even though I was somewhat familiar with Walker’s former band, Marvelous 3, I didn’t know him as a solo artist until I showed up early for a Bowling For Soup show at the Aardvark in Fort Worth one night about four years ago. As I waited for the show to start, I heard a beautiful, haunting song playing over the club’s speakers. And with the help of Shazam, I quickly learned it was “Joan” off Walker’s Letters album.
After buying that album when I got home from my show that night, I got another solo CD by Walker. And then another. The lyrical ability and craftsmanship of songs by Walker is second to none. He has an amazing talent. I had been wanting to see him ever since the first time I heard “Joan,” but he had not played the Dallas/Fort Worth area for five years until he took the stage on Monday.
Starting with an a capella version of Marvelous 3′s “Cigarette Lighter Love Song,” Walker gave every ounce of energy he had until he was off the stage and dancing among the crowd two hours later during the show-closing “Sukerpunch.”
In between, Walker played everything from soulful ballads to a duet with opener Nikki Lane off his forthcoming seventh solo album to rocking sing-a-longs. And while Walker might not exactly be a household name, the enthusiastic crowd knew just about every word he sang. Even when he had misfires on lyrics a few times early in the show, the crowd ate it up. Walker is an absolute showman. And his vast experience of being in front of audience, including a stint as lead guitarist for metal outfit SouthGang in the late 1980s, and producing records for dozens of bands, including Bowling For Soup, came shining through in his performance.
Unlike most shows at the Kessler, there were no reserved tables in front of the stage. Instead, some of the audience was right up against the stage. Seeing Walker play was a real treat. And it’s not hard to see why he has a strong fan base. The Kessler used a quote in promoting the show. It says, “There are two kinds of people in this world: People who love Butch Walker and people who merely haven’t heard of him.” Amen.