Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: The Beanstalk Library

beanstalkNew beginnings are nothing new for Ryan Walker. Since 2002 he’s been trading on the name The Beanstalk Library, performing in and around the Washington, D.C. area. But in all that time he has just one album and a handful of Internet singles to show for it.

beanstalkNew beginnings are nothing new for Ryan Walker. Since 2002 he’s been trading on the name The Beanstalk Library, performing in and around the Washington, D.C. area. But in all that time he has just one album and a handful of Internet singles to show for it.

The culprit? An ever-changing lineup that has revolved around himself and long-time bandmate Brian Kent. But that hamster-wheel history is soon coming to an end, and 2011 appears ripe with break-out potential for the Falls Church native and his bandmates – all of which makes it rather fitting that Walker, Kent and their new five-piece lineup will ring in the new year as the featured act at Creative Cauldron’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Now joined by bassist David Gassmann, drummer Jade Smith and keyboardist Joel Hicks, Walker sees the band spooling up its engines early, possibly even releasing a pair of albums in the next year.

“I’ve really got a good feeling about the next year,” Walker says.

That should mark the biggest stride forward for Walker since 2007, when an early incarnation of the band put out its first album, America at Night. With the album under their belt, touring picked up but the lineup fell apart as members moved out of the area. The current lineup is the third solid formation since Walker started out, with Smith signing on in September and Hicks set to play his first full-band show on New Year’s Eve.

“We’ve always had problems just keeping people together,” Walker says. “But the lineup we have now I think is the best I’ve ever played with. I think this will be a solid core for a while.”

Though the roster has rolled over consistently the past several years, the songwriters, and in turn The Beanstalk Library’s sound, has stayed relatively static. At its best as it is on the pumping, punk-beat backed, keyboard-capped “Elephantitis” off America at Night, Walker and his mates deliver notes that reflect influences of everyone from The Ramones to the New Pornographers. Other times, such as with “Bleak House,” a Ben Folds overtone takes the forefront.

Off their more recent Internet-only releases, “Feelin’ My Way In The Dark” features some 60’s Rolling Stones fuzz and fun. “This Line Is Not For Me” may be the biggest stylistic mixer of them all, with a Good-Bad-Ugly-esque horn on the intro giving way to a Ryan Adams-ish verse and a kitchen-sink chorus.

“Our tastes have evolved a little bit, and our writing habits, but the lineup changes do have an effect,” Walker says. “Our drummer now, his style … his timing is really solid. I think he played in some bands that were a little more dancey. He really rocks out.

“I think what may be on the horizon for the band is a little bit of a harder sound, something a little more punky. I don’t mean like we’re a punk band, but some more forceful elements.”

That’s an interesting next step for Walker, who sites Wilco and The Band among his many influences. In fact, his most fond New Year’s Eve show he’s performed to date was as part of a Neil Young cover group with Kent.

But starting next Friday night, Walker and the musicians of Beanstalk Library will have some new New Year’s Eve memories to enjoy.

And while other’s welcome the dawn of 2011 with a resolution to hit the gym or ditch the cigs, Walker and Co. will be well on their way towards taking a next step that’s been a long time coming.

  • For more on The Beanstalk Library, visit www.thebeanstalklibrary.com.

 

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