I took a ride on a bike and met this man

Last night I was checking out the new bar around the corner from Pehrspace called 1642 (aka “Beer + Wine”). Lo and behold I discovered a bunch of musicians I had never heard before. Walter Spencer, Edna and Melinda (and friends) were jamming some sweet old-time music on violin, upright bass, and banjo.

This wasn’t my usual Tuesday night Wildness (RIP), but after a long day—and a sweaty bike ride with my beau (not with Walter Spencer, who is pictured, above, having an intimate sesh with the bass player)—a glass of beer and some fiddle seemed just about right.

Well we never got to settle in. As soon as we got our delicious brews arrived (Hop 15….just $6—and 10% liquor!), friends of the band incited us to dance with them. I really dug it. Those keening melodies connect deeply with the Irishman in me. And the three musicians were on fire, man. Everyone at the bar was groovin’, especially me.

Several brews later, the players took a break and we got to chat with them. I learned their band does not yet have a name. In fact it, it was their first gig. A great start!

I also learned the banjoist—Walter Spencer—had a brand new CD called A Sunday Night Roast. He gave me a copy and I listened to it this morning. It rules.

A Sunday Night Roast is remarkable for the sturdy yet clear recording, the superb singing and playing, and Spencer’s ability to switch from raucous to gorgeously heartfelt material in a split second. The title track, “Let’s Have a Party” (which is full of humorous local shout-outs) and the boozy “I’m A Mess” all recall the freewheeling, traditional fun of Spencer’s performance at 1642. But for me, the real standouts on A Sunday Night Roast are the delicate “Let’s Dance” (not the Bowie song) and “Gone With The Wind.” Both tell tales of wretched characters whose only salvation is music. Chilling.

Another track that jumped out is “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap” which recalls the story of our pal Don Bolles2007 arrest in Orange County. “Was it crack cocaine or heroine or a little bitty bag of dope?” Walter Spencer sings questioningly. “No”—Spencer answers himself—”He had a bottle of Dr Bronners magic soap!” “It makes my balls tingle but it doesnt get me high,” Spencer concludes, ratifying Bolles’ eternal place in music myth.

The last song, “Bi the Way,” has Walter Spencer chucking the whole Americana sound for a flirtation (quite literally) with the homosexual lifestyle and heavy rock drums. Rad!

Get Walter Spencer’s new album, A Sunday Night Roast

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