29.3 C
Byron Shire
March 30, 2023

Byron Bay Guitar Festival: Meet Benny Walker

Latest News

Is polluting a lake in a national park to support new housing ok?

From Byron Bay to Evans Head to Casino the questions about how we deal with what is politely termed ‘effluent’, and how that may or may not destroy our local environment, demand real and urgent answers.

Other News

Share flood stories at Mullum Farmers Market

To mark the anniversary of the 28 February 2022 flooding of Mullumbimby, which was followed by continued flooding throughout...

World record holder turns to canvas 

Renowned Australian multidisciplinary artist, Space Cowboy, is showcasing his latest art exhibition at the JEFA Gallery, in his hometown of Byron Bay.

NEFA welcomes the election of a new government

The North East Forest Alliance welcomes the election of the Minns Labor government with their promise to create a Great Koala National Park, and calls for a moratorium on logging within the park proposal until the promised assessment is complete.

Byron Shire has 200 road projects in waiting

The incoming NSW Labor government says it will spend billions on the state’s roads, but will some of the cash find its way to the hundreds of flood-ravaged roads in the Byron Shire?

Byron Council staff push for Mullum’s water supply to become part of Rous

A committee that makes recommendations to Council around water and sewage management in the Shire is calling for Mullum’s water supply to remain at Lavertys Gap weir in Wilsons Creek.

Call for Labor government to reinstate logging moratorium – now

North East Forest Alliance’s Dailan Pugh has pointed out that a Minns NSW Labor government has given no commitment to quick and decisive action on behalf of our forests – but we need action 'now' he says.


This weekend sees some of Australia’s best guitarists come to the Byron Bay Brewery for the inaugural Byron Bay Guitar Festival. Conceived and created by Byron Music’s Nick Sergi, the festival presents 43 performances on two stages featuring Kevin Borich, Phil Emmanuel, Jeff Lang, Fiona Boyes, Paul George, and Steve Edmonds and Gold Coast-based guitar legend Louie Shelton. Playing alongside them will be a huge list of local legends including Jim Kelly, Greg Lyon and the Hip Operation, Fergo & The Burden and Azo Bell.

One of the must see acts is Benny Walker, also announced for Bluesfest next year.

A Yorta Yorta Man from Echuca, Benny Walker is the real deal and definitely a star in the making. His killer voice and epic tales are mixed with a deep groove and passion for the land.

For Benny his love affair with the guitar started when he was a kid.

‘I picked up the guitar at the age of ten. My dad and my granddad were guitar players. It was always around. I was learning piano from 8. Once Dad showed me how to play I was off. I had been playing the piano so the guitar took over. I have gone back to the piano now.’

The two instruments provide two key writing voices for Walker who says, ‘Its a really different approach. On the guitar you instinctually go for places that are comfortable. The piano is laid out so differently which is not familiar so I am more unpredicable in what I am doing. It inspires different melodies. The piano inspires one thing, the guitar another.’

Walker has a vocal quality that stops you in your tracks. Interestingly his voice developed alongside his playing. He wasn’t handed a guitar because of his voice. Maybe it was the luck of the draw. Not everyone who learns guitar as a kid ends up with a voice like Walker’s.

‘I think my voice kind of developed, I was so young,’ says Walker. ‘You go through your voice breaking, and there were a few horrible years of attempted singing, and it wasn’t until high school when I started writing and singing a little and my voice developed with the guitar – you pick things you like and imitate. I used to listen to Chuck Berry and I was into old rock’n’roll and blues. The first song I learnt was Pipeline by Dick Dale. I am not sure where it came from but I loved a lot of older stuff as far as singer/songwriters like Neil Young and James Taylor. I also appreciate more contemporary guys like Ryan Adams and John Mayer, guys who play and sing and write great songs.’

When it comes to songwriting for Walker it’s the first line that dictates a song. ‘I have become more and more critical of my writing and hopefully that is starting to show. It’s like a book writer who goes back and re-reads and adjusts and edits. I try and be more concise. You have to be.’

When it comes to songwriting there’s an unguarded rawness that shines through. Oh No You Don’t tells the story of his struggle with dark times.

‘I wrote my album Through the Forest when I was having a tough time, it was a darkish album, and that got me through that and later I started writing some songs for the next record, some blues rocks, and I brought them home and listened to them and picked up the acoustic guitar and walked it back to the home studio in my house and started playing the three chords to Oh No You Don’t. I really quickly realised I was reflecting on that period of my life, so it was about knowing how to deal with those feelings, and when I was well and in the clear, or through the worst of it and on an up and that song came along, it’s quite empowering.’

‘When it came out I had people stopping me in the street and messages about how I had connected with them and I remember how it felt to be like that and it gives someone a feeling they are not alone. People say music can heal, and you can take it as you like, I think it’s a good example of how you can connect with complete strangers.’

Benny Walker, playing on the Saturday, with his full band playing everything off the new EP Undercover and a few songs off the last record.

Byron Bay Guitar Festival at the Byron Bay Brewery this Saturday and Sunday.
For tickets, information and playing schedule, visit www.byronbayguitarfestival.com and keep up to date on their social media pages www.facebook.com/byronbayguitarfest and www.instagram.com/byronbayguitarfest.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Appeal to locate man last seen at Casino on way to Tweed

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a man from Grafton missing from the North Coast area.

Do you still need help to get two rooms fixed after the 2022 flood?

More than 80 Lismore residents have had help getting a few rooms in their flood-impacted homes re-sheeted and habitable following the devastating 2022 floods.  The...

$15,000 fine and warnings over illegal logging in Kyogle Shire

Urbenville-based logging company Rojech Pty Ltd were fined $15,000 earlier this month over logging operations near the entrance to the Border Ranges National Park in Kyogle Shire.

No street gathering policy for Ballina Shire

A majority of Ballina Shire councillors have voted against a Greens-led motion for a new policy enabling resident-led street closures for gatherings and play.