May 23--DECATUR -- A few years ago, Micah Walk was the frontman of a rising Central Illinois rock band that bore his name, pinning his hopes to the small trio and producing a handful of albums that met with moderate success.
As that group began to drift apart, though, the Springfield native had to reevaluate his plans for a musical career, experimenting with a singer-songwriter style that increasingly drew him to solo performances. Today, he still performs as a member of a couple Springfield-area bands, but the artist is simultaneously preparing to take his first big leap as a solo artist. And thanks to his fans, he knows the support is there.
"I just finished recording an album in L.A., where I worked with a former producer for bands like Ryan Adams and R.E.M.," said Walk, who will bring his solo show to Decatur for a Saturday evening performance at Donnie's Homespun Pizza. "To raise the money, I did a Kickstarter campaign in November asking for about $5,000, and we raised around $7,500. It was really flattering, because I was nervous we weren't going to meet the goal at all. I didn't see the support coming."
The response to Walk's Kickstarter campaign speaks to the reputation he has earned for himself over the last eight years of performing throughout Central Illinois. Now, as he catches up on performing house shows as one of the campaign's reward tiers, he's also working on getting his album mastered and ready for a possible release in the fall. To fans that haven't heard him since the last Micah Walk Band release, the "State of Affairs" EP recorded in 2010, the maturing singer-songwriter might sound a little bit different.
"I guess I got a little older and left some of the angst behind," the singer said. "There's a lot of songs about love, from a somewhat different perspective. There's thoughts about settling down, slowing down and looking back on some of the choices you've made along the way. It's maybe a little bit less lighthearted than in the past."
Walk grew up on a farm in the small Illinois town of Girard, and learned to play guitar at 15. His parents at first tried to steer him toward a line of work "with a more consistent paycheck" before realizing Walk's love for music was no passing fancy. Today, he's lucky enough to be able to make a living from playing and teaching.
"I teach guitar, but that never really feels like a day job," he said. "It feels good to pay my bills by making music, and it will feel good to have my next record in hand."
Ultimately, because of all the support he's gotten from his fans, Walk feels a certain responsibility and obligation that the release live up to expectations. Having used their money to create his first solo album, it stands to reason it should be a record for the people.
"I feel like I owe it to them to give them a good record," he said. "That meant only including the stuff I really believe in. If the words don't sound like they're from the heart, I'm going to scrap that song. The highest priority to me as a songwriter is to have something honest and powerful to say."
(c)2013 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.)
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