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Singin’ & Playin’the Blues.. meet BILLY WALTON.


By BILL LECONEY W


HETHER SOARING LIKE A COMET OVER THE SCRUFFY PINES OR WINDING LIKE A SNAKE THROUGH THE MARSHES, BILLYWALTON’S INCENDIARY GUITAR LICKS ALWAYS HAVE A SENSE OF PURPOSE AND DIRECTION.


This cat from Tuckerton is going places. From a sports bar in Stafford to a beach cabana in Cape May, a family festival in


Somers Point to a blues jam on the Boardwalk, the Billy Walton Band is out raising a ruckus with their powerful brand of blues rock. But they’re just as likely to be found in England, where they are one of South Jersey’s


most successful exports, their popularity cultivated by numerous tours and shows attended by fervent fans. Always they come home to New Jersey, land of The Sopranos, “The Situation” and


iconic rockers named Bruce, Bon Jovi and Southside Johnny. Billy Walton’s name is quickly becoming synonomous with the “Jersey Shore” sound,


whatever that is. It’s not a label he’s entirely comfortable with. “The whole ‘Jersey Shore’ thing, that sound, is where you’re from,” Walton says. “I’m


from here, so it’s always going to come out, no matter what. But to just put a label on it, an identity, is kind of tough. “It’s all about mood. Music is art, so one night we’ll do a lot of Hendrix, the other


night we’ll do ‘party vibe.’ To put a label on it and say, ‘This is blues, this is rock... It just depends on the night. I like to keep it constantly changing.” A recent night at Callaways in Stafford Township was a good example. Walton and


his band, which expanded to include a keyboardist and saxophone player, churned the hometown crowd into a sweaty, dancing frenzy, shifting from smoldering blues grooves to bouncy soul and R&B. The mix included covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Van Morrison, Sublime, the Spencer Davis Group, George Thorogood, the Stones and Springsteen, as well as the Dead, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Sam and Dave. The Callaways crowd ate it all up, including original songs from the band’s first full-length CD, Neon City. Walton is ever the showman, flipping his pick behind his back and catching it between


fiery licks of his guitar, or playfully trying to distract bassist William Paris by aiming a pool cue at his head. It’s clear these guys like to have a good time on stage, and the audience is invited to the party. “You use the covers to sink the hook, and then once you have them, you reel them in


with the original stuff,” Walton says. “Whether it’s Sam and Dave, or Hendrix, or whatever we want to play, it’s got to be enjoyable, it’s gotta be fun.” Walton, 35, seems content to be king of the blues guitar, but he doesn’t necessarily subscribe to that old adage: “You have to live the blues to play the blues.”


njlifestyleonline.com LIFESTYLE | January 2011 21


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