Review by Greg Haymes
Video and photographs by Timothy Raab
Ryler Walker has big ears and an open heart – which is to say that his daring music is a deftly blended amalgam of a multitude of musical genres and he isn’t afraid to lay it all on the line, emotionally speaking.
In support of his stunning, recently released sophomore album, Primrose Green, the 25-year-old Chicago-based acoustic guitar phenom made his Nippertown debut recently at the Half Moon in Hudson. It was a dazzling hour-long display of the American Primitivism guitar stylings pioneered by John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Peter Lang and carried into the 21st century by such fretboard masters as Daniel Bachman, Steve Gunn and William Tyler – mind-boggling finger-picking rooted in traditional folk, but applied to more of an avant-garde, neo-classical aesthetic.
Accompanied by the sublimely understated electric guitar playing of Brian Sulpizio, Walker sat on a stool, bent over his guitar in concentration, often swiveling his whole body back and forth in a physical manifestation of the trance-like musical groove that they conjured up together. Following a seven-minute instrumental introduction, Walker slid gracefully into “On the Banks of the Old Kishawaukee,” which proved to be the most traditional sounding selection of his hour-long set. It was, however, hardly traditional.