Lonnie Walker with Future Islands and Kite Flying Robot
9 p.m. Saturday
113 N. Crawford, Norman
Alt-punk band Lonnie Walker is a product of its generation. Its music winds in different directions, influenced by Weezer, Iggy Pop, The Beatles and Hank Williams, although you may have trouble hearing a few of those in their debut release, “These Times Old Times,” or Saturday night at Opolis.
Driven largely by acoustic guitar, the songs have a raw, parched Americana amble often draped in haunted atmosphere, but with the rock cranked up at times.
From North Carolina, Lonnie Walker is no more a person than Pink Floyd or Lynyrd Skynyrd. Like the music, it’s an amalgam of inspirations, taking its surname from a Silver Jews disc, and its first name from legendary blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson, who was a big influence on Bob Dylan. That seems particularly apt, since front man and founder Brian Corum sings with a distinctive vocal twang that’s reminded more than a few writers of the freewheelin’ Dylan.
It comes out strongest on the aforementioned “Summertime,” whose loose-limbed narrative unspools like an homage to Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” with a steady string of priceless lines and unusual images over a sturdy strum.
“I like random and happenstance in music, and I don’t want everything to be understood, or have people get it in one listen, because that’s not how people are or not how I am,” said Corum. “I wanted to write a song with the least amount of chord changes that I could, so I started to write a song that was just the chord of C and see where it took me.”
He’s been playing music since middle school, but toward the end of high school, Corum put aside the guitar and sought out a more normal life. Well, as normal as you can get as an art major. But it’s no secret how many art students end up in bands.
“When I picked it back up and started playing again, I realized this is something I really enjoyed doing, and that’s when I started writing more songs on my own,” Corum said.
Hitting Greenville’s thriving house-show circuit, he soon wanted to build something more dynamic, and to explore different styles than he was able to alone with his acoustic guitar.
“Those songs were a little bit more folk, but I wasn’t interested in only sounding that way. I wanted to build a band,” he says.
In 2008, Lonnie Walker recorded its debut, leading to rave reviews and a performance last year at South by Southwest. He described that experience as fun, but wishes they’d booked more shows around it on the way down and back. However, over the last year, he’s become savvier to the touring game, not to mention the promotional one. “These Times Old Times” certainly deserves it, growing warmer with each listen.
“It’s gotten a late start, but locally, it’s done very well, so we’ve set up a campaign and we’ll see how things go,” Corum said. “Chris Parker