Know your scales, Know your chords, Knock yourself out

Lynsey Kitching

There are few things that parallel the human desire to dance and sing along to a live band. Those that like it like it a lot.

For this reason, the Walking Shadows show last weekend (at the Legion), and the weekend before at the Trend Mountain conference centre were full of a lively bunch ready to boogie. And boogie they did.

Tumbler Ridge News had a chance to meet up with local guitar playing, harmonica grooving, vocalist Mike Todd.

How did this group get started?

“When I came over here, I started talking to Brian, and got a few songs together. We went to the Legion at open mic for the jams and then he kept saying to give James a call. James is just brilliant,” says Todd full of smiles for his band mates.

“James, a Welsh kid, great guitar player, sings, knows a ton of songs. Brian has so much experience as a bass player and Bobby is just the best drummer,” Todd explains.

The group plays cover songs from the classic rock days. Other members include Brian Bray on bass; James Mannion, lead vocals and guitar; and Bobby Gale on drums.

The group is already getting prepped up for this year’s Grizfest.

“1:30 p.m. on Sunday,” says Todd already knowing when the band is to hit the stage. “Brian has been an organizer for the last 12 years so, if you can’t get a gig with him..,” says Todd suggesting, well explicitly saying, that Bray’s got some pull.

“I was just talking to him; he’s amazed at how quickly it’s all come together. It’s been a matter of months.”

The group all lives within a km radius of each other in Tumbler, one of the perks of small town music making.

Todd explains how it all came together, “Once we got Bobby on board, he started drumming with us, we went out and did a jam at the Legion and we played for about an hour and a half because no one else turned up.”

“We knew from the first song or two. It was like we heard something special. Everything worked and the reception we got was really cool, people were dancin’, hootin’, hollarin’ and carrying on. So after that we organized our first gig at the Steak House, we played that gig and it went really well.”

Their performances have continued to bring people out of the house and onto the dance floor.

Todd says, “The other night was unreal; we more or less filled the place.”

So what sets Walking Shadows apart? Why should we come out to your gigs?

Todd says, “The thing that is amazing about this arrangement is that some of the songs for us are only two weeks old. There were nine new songs we did that we didn’t know at the previous gig,” he continues, “There are songs you’ll hear us play, that I’ve played with the CD at home like 90 times. We change the key for a lot of them as well so you just have to practice. There is also a certain amount of improvisation going on too. That’s when it’s fun. It’s like you have an outline that you can bring colour to. If you can get the song arrangement down, the structure, you can start to put a bit of variety in there. Like for ‘Mustang Sally.’”

Todd gives his band mate Mannion a lot of cred. He says, “That’s where James is really good as well. I play lead guitar and he plays lead guitar, did you notice that? It’s fun. I’ll be jamming out and then James will have a solo. He’s that talented. Even his rhythm playing is just filled with riffs. It’s pretty funky. As we’re jamming away I’m hearing all these riffs and these bending notes. We’re just havin’ a ball.”

And don’t forget about the beats. Todd says, “Did you notice how good Bobby is on the drums! He makes it really exciting.”

On top of Grizfest, Walking Shadows has a show lined up for May 10 at the Coal Bin and they will be playing an outdoor gig through the Legion during the Canada Day long weekend.

Check ’em out!