Tucked away on the west side of the small town of Broad Channel in the middle of Jamiaca Bay is a narrow, dead end, street that goes by the name of West 12th Road. Those of us who live there know that the nice part about living in a small town is that when you are not quite sure what is going on, someone else always does!
[Peter J. Mahon West 12th Road, Broad Channel]
Walker Hornung has been writing music and performing for more than 30 years.It might come as a surprise to anyone who’s followed Walker Hornung’s music career that his latest album, “The Great Silence of Outer Space” dives into avant garde territory reminiscent of Brian Eno or David Bowie’s progressive latter day work.
The collaborative LP of nine experimental rock tracks was crafted in tandem with Hornung’s longtime pal and Breezy Point resident RJ Puckhaber (Rjaelzm) and visits dark places where Hornung has rarely set foot on lighter hearted endeavors of his musicianship to date.
Considering that the Howard Beach denizen has a decades-long track record in genres like sunny Caribbean soca, classic rock and alternative, the songster’s moody new offering might appear to have come straight out of left field. That said, Hornung runs deep and isn’t afraid to do a little emotional spelunking. “I’ve always explored the darkness of the human condition,” he chuckles, “but other more jubilant material I’ve done balances out the depressing stuff. There’s no middle ground with my work.”
Walker’s creative journey started in south Queens, where the singer-songwriter grew up. Before being featured on back-to-back soca hits in the early aughts, Walker recalls, "[My alt rock band Q South, in the 90s] was just a bunch of simple guys from Rockaway Beach," he shrugs. "I tended bar to make ends meet at that time, back when you could still stretch one night's work serving drinks over an entire week out here. I've always thought of Rockaway as New York City's undiscovered gem."
In the spirit of giving back to their beloved stomping grounds, Walker and his cousin Jimmy Dowd, owner of St. James clothing, co-founded the Rockstock Barrels Festival in 2006 with Steve and Christian Stathis, owners of Boarders skate shop. The all-day affair features surfing and skateboarding competitions as well as performances from more than a dozen local bands and vendors. The 11th annual celebration of Rockstock is on June 24.
“We felt like tribute and cover bands were dominating the scene,” he explains, “and wanted to give young bands who write their own songs an outlet, so we created an annual music, skate and surf festival.”
In spite of his towering artistic credentials, Hornung does low-key legendary like no one else can. Whether he’s playing a show like the recent Sofar Sounds event he brought to life in Manhattan’s Chinatown for a roomful of collegeages hipsters, rocking out with his band Walker and the Brotherhood of the Grape amidst a pangenerational crowd at local venues, or bringing his signature tunes to a fundraiser for a good cause, the blue-eyed singer/songwriter conjures the sort of intrigue you’d expect a local celebrity to garner wherever he goes. The proud family man and self-professed bookworm works a regular job between tours, but anyone who’s watched him filling a venue with his emotive voice and engrossing presence, will tell you that Walker Hornung is a dyed in the wool artist who was born for the stage. That said, it’s this musician’s no-nonsense likability that turns heads once the music has stopped.
Hornung joined The Wave’s podcast on May 30. He talked about his career, his upcoming gigs, his new album and even played us a Greg Allman tune. You can listen or download the podcast at goo.gl/FbSzLE