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Walt Koken Discography of CDs


Hei-Wa Hoedown Hei-Wa Hoedown CD (1995)
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A former fiddler for the Fat City String Band and the Highwoods String Band in the early 1970s, Walt Koken left the music business for other ventures for some twenty years before emerging in the early 1990s with two fine banjo recordings on Rounder Records, Banjonique, and this one, Hei-Wa Hoedown. Mixing originals with traditional fare, Koken is a fine claw hammer banjo player who doesn't worry over little mistakes in his delivery, giving this release a wonderfully live, honest, back porch feel. Add in his aged-whiskey voice (Koken sings on maybe a half dozen of the tracks here -- the rest are instrumentals), and you have all the ingredients for an authentic-sounding Appalachian revisionist classic. Among the highlights here are Koken's rapid, bubbling version of "John Hardy," the delightfully surreal "Jaybird Town," and the unassuming rendition of "Going Across the Sea" that closes the album. While not quite as striking as Banjonique (but only by degree), Hei-Wa Hoedown is cut from the same cloth, and taken together, the two albums make a complete whole. ~ Steve Leggett Includes liner notes by Walt Koken. All songs written by Walt Koken or traditional. Solo performer: Walt Koken (banjo, vocals). Composer: Walt Koken. Personnel: Walt Koken (vocals, banjo). Liner Note Author: Walt Koken. Photographer: Elliott Landy. Arranger: Walt Koken.
Banjonique Banjonique CD (1994) 4 stars
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Walt Koken was a prominent player in the old time music branch of the 1960s folk boom, and as a fiddle player with the Highwoods String Band in the early '70s, he did as much as anyone to preserve the tradition and feel of the old Appalachian tunes. But playing music that the mainstream doesn't even know exists is a difficult career choice, and Koken left music for carpentry as the 1970s wore on, making this album from Rounder Records somewhat of a comeback. This time, though, Koken is all about five-string banjo, and his modal clawhammer style on these spare and simple tracks is as natural and unassuming as a walk through the woods. "Banjonique" and "Banjo Blues," the two instrumentals that open the album, pretty much set the tone, and it's a bit like listening to your neighbor (who just happens to be a pretty good clawhammer banjo player) running through some old mountain melodies on his back porch as the sun begins to set. When Koken sings, as he does on the delightful old J.P. Nestor fiddle piece called "Train on the Island," his voice is all scratchy and a little eerie, which fits perfectly with what Koken is trying to do. His banjo version of Mississippi John Hurt's "Candyman" is another obvious highlight here, as is his take on the "Louie Louie" of fiddle tunes, "Cotton Eyed Joe." The problem with being a revivalist is always one of authenticity, but Koken is so natural and unassuming in his playing and singing that it hardly matters, and on Banjonique he deftly translates the music of a previous century into this one without so much as breaking a string. ~ Steve Leggett Solo performer: Walt Koken (banjo). Personnel: Walt Koken (vocals, fiddle). Liner Note Author: Walt Koken. Photographer: Vinaya Marty Lebenson. Arranger: Walt Koken.
Walt Koken Appears on

Feed Your Babies Onions: Fat City Favorites Feed Your Babies Onions: Fat City Favorites CD (1994)
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This great revivalist band's earlier Rounder albums boiled down to a lone CD for a new generation of hungry old-timey fans. The band's free, adventurous spirit reflects its early 70s heyday but sounds as timeless as the tunes they play. Lively performances and ...

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Walt Koken Songs

Popular or famous Walt Koken music songs: Berkeley Days, Blue Bird Rag, Indian Nation, Boston Shootout, Cotton Eyed Joe, Banjo Ma'am, Solitaire. More music songs Old Dusty Miller, Going Across the Sea, Buck Hill Breakdown, Freedom's March, Jay Bird Town, John Hardy, Big John Mcniel. More music songs Big Sandy, Twiddlin', Pig Politics, Snowbound Blues, Leather Britches, Port Townsend Shuffle. See All Songs

Key Personnel

Member NameWorked With
Walt KokenHighwoods Stringband

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