Shoreham date and new album for TJ Walker

Shoreham musician Tom Walker – who goes under the name TJ Walker – plays around 200 gigs a year.

TJ Walker
TJ Walker

But he is hoping the release of his debut album will mean he’s out there playing much more of his own material.

Dates include: Friday, March 6 at the Duke of Wellington in Shoreham.

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The Long Game is now available (www.iamtjwalker.com), his first album after a lifetime of making music.

“I started when I was very young. I started when I was four on a ukulele banjo that my dad gave me. He played, and I started with that. I used to sit in with his band while he was doing gigs.

“I have done other things, but I have been professional since I was about 16. I have done all kinds of things. My first full-time professional work, I did a couple of seasons with the resident band at holiday camps which is a very good grounding and that’s where I met my wife. She was the compere!

“I have been writing my own music for as long as I can remember, but I haven’t really had the guts to put it together as an album and release it until now. I think when you are doing your own music, it feels much more that you are putting yourself on the line. It has taken a lot of courage to put it out. I would write stuff and I just used to keep it to myself.”

But then came a turning point.

“When we were on honeymoon about eight years ago, we did one of those trips to the Grand Canyon. We went over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter and then we went to a ranch where we were cooked a meal by some cowboys and then we went for a horseback ride at sunset and then we sat around the campfire.

“There was a cowboy with a guitar and my wife went up to the cowboy and said that I played the guitar as well. He disappeared off to his tent and came back with his spare guitar for me to play. I ended up playing with the cowboy for quite a long time. Afterwards he said that I was really good.”

The cowboy urged Tom not to hide his talents – words which have proved a catalyst.

As for the music, Tom says: “It is kind of country, Americana, guitar-based. It has got a kind of country twang to it. It is not folky really. I would say that it is more at the soft end of rock.

“I am hoping the album will be a shopfront for getting me out there playing my own stuff more, which is what I would really like to do. I did a couple of gigs last weekend, but I am hoping to do more festivals and stuff this year.

“At the moment I am gigging a lot, but not necessarily my own stuff. If you are a full-time musician, you have to diversify. I play a lot at weddings and corporate functions and also in pubs. I probably play around 200 gigs a year. I used to do even more than that. But the real aim is to be out there playing my own music and playing in music venues, not just in bars.”

Tom has released the album under his new name TJ Walker: “I was no longer able to release music as Tom Walker because of the famous Tom Walker who won a Brit award!”

As for the name change, it happened after his Christmas single the year before last: “I tried to upload some stuff and it came up saying ‘Please choose another name.’ I didn’t understand. I had already had six or seven releases. I kept trying to upload it, and I managed to speak to the support desk in the end.

“It seems that when an artist reaches a certain profile, they stop other artists releasing music under that same name. It is to stop people fraudulently getting lots of plays. I said I had already had music under that name, and they just said tough, but it is a good thing really. Nobody would have been able to find me after the other Tom Walker!”

Gigs coming up include:

Friday, March 6 – The Lamb, Lewes.

Sunday, June 14 – Americana Live! Festival at The Hawth in Crawley.