Walter Salas-Humara Heads Out On Walterio Tour
For years, Walter Salas-Humara has split his time between making music and visual art, so it's not surprising that Walterio, his new release on Rhyme & Reason Records, contains rich imagery - both lyrically and on its cover. But one of the strongest images it evokes actually comes from the music itself, which might be described as the sonic equivalent of a tree - a rock 'n' roll family tree.
Tracks such as "Here We Go," "She's a Caveman" and "Out of the Band" can trace lineage back to the Silos, the still-kicking band Salas-Humara co-founded in New York's post-punk '80s scene. Playing alt-country before anyone called it that, they were named Best New Artist in the 1987 Rolling Stone Critics Poll - which temporarily deep-sixed Salas-Humara's art-career plans.
Salas-Humara might have attended art school at Pratt Institute, but his songs feel shaped by low-key vistas of everyday life. Of that era, Salas-Humara recounts: "I learned a lot about design, conceptual ideas, and the history of art. I think that has helped me bring a unique character to my music and art, but it's being out there on the road, just playing and playing, singing and singing, connecting with audiences, trying new shit out, that has made me a not only a better entertainer, but a better person." In doing so, he imbued tunes with a slightly grass-worn, wandering Western vibe and a relaxed and open-ended ambience. Plus, they teemed with a bounty of hooks and grooves that never distract from his musical portraits of marriage, memories, mornings, and women.
Throughout Salas-Humara's career his voice has remained textured like a walnut; meanwhile, his narratives focus not on interior, abstract weaves of doubts and anxieties but on storytelling. He renders small incidents in granular detail that take on the weight of attentive, convincing poetry and wry wordplay. Each tune is marked by such humanity, which offers much refuge in a convulsive time. "I've traveled all over the world and met pretty much every kind of human in every kind of environment," notes Salas-Humara. "The one thing I've learned is that everyone is pretty much the same. The thing that separates people is fear - what it is that they fear and how much they fear it. Fear is the enemy of peace. Fear and problems do not literally exist, only the mind can create fear and problems. There is literally nothing stopping everyone from sharing and loving."
"Come in a Singer," a bluesy, chimey guitar ballad that examines the ups and downs of a creative life. "This song speaks to every artist's desire to be remembered, and especially, to have their work remembered," Salas-Humara notes. "We live our lives creating our songs and weaving our stories, and leave behind memories and the songs that embody them. We come into life a singer and we leave a song" He reinforces the message by dedicating Walterio "to all my fellow artists, musicians and writers."
Salas-Humara's legacy would seem secure; his name is on 24 albums and his WaltersDogs portraits even appeared in the film Get Him to the Greek. but he's hardly ready to call it a day. "It's still really fun for me," he says of his musical pursuits. "In fact, I'm much happier than I've ever been in my life. I really enjoy traveling around entertaining. I see myself as an artist, but I also see myself as a communicator and entertainer - and teacher and mentor. And I love that. Back in the day, the Silos just blasted everybody's faces off. We hardly talked at all. Now, I play a song, I talk. Then I hang out."
But not for too long, because Salas-Humara, who has addresses in Flagstaff, Arizona, and New York City, is still driven by the wanderlust that inhabits most troubadours. He celebrates adventurous spirits in "Here We Go," in which he sings, From the cafes of Amsterdam/The Hippie Trail to Afghanistan/We're so free ... In the speakers there's a wicked melody/and in our heads a harmony/and at the journey's end, it all begins, again my friend.
The space-time of Salas-Humara is not a Technicolor world, or a green screen world of hyped fakery, it's a workaday world, paced as such, in which home and heart are the iconography of inspiration, played with pluck and gravelly insight. Or, as Salas-Humara suggests, "One's environment and one's experiences always informs one's songwriting. This happens naturally whether you like it or not. Songs are life, and my life has been just one very long song."
Catch Walter on tour:
April 16 Knoxville, TN - Sweet P's BBQ and Downtown Dive
April 17 Atlanta, GA - Smith's Olde Bar
April 18 Athens, GA - Georgia Theater Rooftop
April 19 North Charleston, SC - Commonhouse Aleworks
April 20 Wilmington, NC - Satellite Bar & Lounge
April 21 Raleigh, NC - Slim's
April 25 Richmond, VA - The Camel
April 27 Gettysburg, PA - Garryowen Irish Pub
April 28 Philadelphia, PA - The Pharmacy
April 30 NYC, NY - Rockwood Music Hall
May 1 Northampton, MA - The Parlor Room
May 2 Troy, NY - Nighthawks
May 3 Oneonta, NY - B-Side Ballroom
May 4 Oneonta, NY - B-Side Ballroom
May 5 Portland, ME - St Lawrence Arts
May 7 Farmington, CT - Stanley-Whitman House Museum
May 8 Brooklyn, NY - Barbes
May 9 Fitchburg, MA - River Styx Brewing
May 10 Jersey City, NJ - Fox and Crow
May 15 Milwaukee, WI - Anodyne Coffee Roasters
May 17 Owatonna, WI - Music Space of Owatonna
May 18 LaCrosse, WI - Mid West Music Fest
May 20 Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
May 21 Viroqua, WI - Driftless Books & Music
May 22 McHenry, IL - Mackey's Hideout
May 24 Chicago, IL - The Hideout
May 28 Des Moines, IA - Vaudeville Mews
May 29 Kansas City, MO - Mini Bar
May 30 Sioux City, IA - Downtown Live
May 31 Minneapolis, MN - Warming House
For more information on the upcoming shows, check out Walter's website.