By Gail McCarthy
---- — The Walker Creek Band is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and the Gloucester-based band will be celebrating with a concert Friday night at the AMVETS hall on Prospect Street.
The rock and roll band began in 1983 in a small cabin in the West Gloucester woods, where seven musicians prepared for a neighborhood talent show. But time has not eroded their love of music and performance. The band does about six major events a year out of town so this is an opportunity for a local show.
“It’s a celebration of 30 years of Walker Creek Band and rock and roll,” said Gloucester native Bob Bradford. “We all are excited about this show. This is an opportunity for friends and family that don’t get a chance to see us to come and celebrate.”
In the early days, the members pondered options on what to name the band, but since almost all the musicians could walk from their West Gloucester homes in the 1980s to their rehearsal space, they decided to call it the Walker Creek Band, after the nearby creek.
The current band is comprised of Bob Bradford on drums and vocals; Bill Collins on guitar and vocals; John Lovell on keyboard; Doug Pike on bass; Joe Simcox on vocals, electric violin and percussion; and Harold Wyman on guitar, vocals and harmonica.
Lovell, Wyman, Collins and Simcox are original members. But some former band members will also be at the gala event, including Robert Hanlon of Walker Creek Furniture in Essex, Jon Matson, Rachel Megyesy and Peter Van Ness.
“These original band members will be special guests who also may perform a song or two,” said Bradford. “After 30 years, membership is bound to change. We have seen each other get married and have children — and now even grandchildren.”
From the start, the band members decided they did not want the grind that can come from weekend after weekend of performing in bars or clubs. They opted for primarily playing at weddings, benefits, parties and outdoor festivals.
“We first and foremost wanted this to be fun, and having fun is still the motivating factor for the band,” said Simcox, who has served as principal viola with six North Shore and regional orchestras, as well as chamber music groups and theater productions.
Another relatively new face to the band is Jeff Johnson, a sound engineer, who band members say has changed the band’s sound forever.
Walker Creek plays a variety of classic rock ‘ roll, playing from an eclectic repertoire. The band has many musical influences that can be heard on any given night including Bob Dylan, The Band, Dire Straits, Tom Petty, Bruce Cockburn, Van Morrison, Moody Blues, Beatles, Delbert McClinton, Bruce Springsteen and Eric Clapton.
“The Walker Creek Band is still making music together while many other bands have gone by the wayside,” Simcox said. “I’ve said to others, what else have I done continuously for 30 years?”
One highlight in the band’s history came after the local filming of the 1996 movie “The Crucible,” which starred Daniel Day Lewis and Wynona Rider. The Walker Creek band was asked to perform at the Cape Ann Marina for the cast party.
But they equally delight in their Gloucester shows where they reunite with friends, family and fans, some of whom have followed the group since its inception.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at email@example.com.
Walker Creek anniversary What: Walker Creek Band celebrates 30 years When: Friday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. Where: AMVETS at 14 Prospect St., Gloucester. Cost: There is no cover, but donations will be accepted with proceeds going to AMVETS Post 32.