Seth Walker – Live at Mauch Chunk Opera House (review)

NC native’s first live album is as infectious as his studio work

Seth Walker has been on an enviable hot streak as of late, releasing a series of fantastic studio albums that mix R&B, folk, blues and rock into a style that’s all his own. Live At Mauch Chunk Opera House is his first-ever concert recording, and it shows that he’s just as lethal in a live setting.

Although Walker did a lot of solo shows promoting his latest album, Gotta Get Back, for this disc he’s joined by the trio of Myles Weeks on bass, Stefano Intelisano on keys & accordion, and Eric Kalb on drums. They provide the perfect backdrop for Walker’s laid back delivery.

The set opens with one of Walker’s finest compositions, “Tomorrow,” a highlight off of 2014’s Sky Still Blue. The band lays down a funky, simmering groove, while Walker sings behind the beat, then shows off his underrated guitar ability with a great solo.

The majority of the album smartly focuses on Gotta Get Back. “Fire in the Belly” chugs along, propelled by a great Hammond organ solo, while Walker switches to acoustic guitar for the soul-infused “Grab Ahold.”

You’ll have a hard time sitting still for the propulsive “High Time,” which gives both the drummer and bassist an opportunity to show off their chops. The Willie Nelson nod, “Blue Eyes,” features a great accordion accompaniment.

Things wrap up with the New Orleans rave up, “Way Past Midnight,” again pushed along by accordion, and again, a song to get you moving.

In the liner notes we find out that this recording was done without the band’s knowledge at a fine auditorium in Pennsylvania – and it shows. The band is loose, the mood is relaxed – it’s just Seth Walker doing what he does best.

The only minor quibble is that he’s got so much great material, this could easily have been a double album.

Live at Mauch Chunk Opera House proves that the magic Seth Walker has been creating on his recent solo albums is no fluke – he’s capable of doing it every night in concert. —Tony Peters