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Rick Walker: Musical Biography

Composer, multi-instrumentalist and master percussionist/drummer, Rick Walker has been on the cutting edge of music for the last 25 years. One of the original founding members of the World Beat movement, and now one of the leading lights in the emerging International Live Looping movement, he incorporates a vast array of world music and pop styles in his repertoire. He has headlined in 13 countries in the past 5 years as a found sound/live looping/abstract electronica artist.

He is an exceptionally versatile and sensitive musician and is eccentrically creative, finding rhythm and melody in hundreds of everyday objects

He has also produced 25 live looping festivals (which have inspired 70 more festivals worldwide), including: the First Bass Live Looping Festival (the first large scale live looping festival in history); the First Bass Live Looping Tour (with fellow loopers Michael Manring, Steve Lawson and Max Valentino); and for the past eight years, the Y2K Live Looping Festival Series, culminating last October in the Y2K7 International Live Looping Festival, which featured 51 live looping artists from 10 countries in 5 days in 3 cities --the largest gathering of live loopers in history.

He also curated a series of festivals for the San Jose Museum of Art, showcasing emerging trends in music and live computer animation, including the First Women's Live Looping Festival, the Festival of Found and Invented Sound, and the Festival of Live Digital Animation (for which he also provided the sound score). He was also part of the first monthly live looping series in history at Mobo Sushi, in Santa Cruz, California in 1995.

Rick has endorsements with the looping hardware creators Looperlative (the highest fidelity hardware looper extant), Gibson (for their Echoplex EDP looper) and Electrix (the Repeater). He is a representing artist for Cycling 74 and Universal Audio, and he endorses the software companies Antares, Tuareg, TobyBear and several others. He also endorses and plays equipment made by the Cooperman Drum Company, D-Tar Preamplifiers, P-bag Percussion Bags, Duco Simina Bagpipes, Robert Collier Kalimbas, Xaphoon bamboo saxaphones, Strumstick and the Professor Television Photo-Theremins.

Also a professional percussionist, Rick plays well over 1,000 global percussion instruments and has studied the traditional West African, Caribbean, Brazilian, Middle-Eastern, Indonesian, Indian, European, Celtic, and North American schools of rhythm.

He has taught over 2500 private students the principles of rhythm, composition, arrangement, sound design and production, and is the author of a multi-volume encyclopedia of rhythm called "Global Beats and World Pop Styles" which is currently in its fourth volume of research.

He is a prodigious multi-instrumentalist, playing keyboard instruments, reed and double reed instruments, brass instruments, stringed instruments, found sound instruments and invented instruments. In addition, he has a fascinating repertoire of unusual and exotic vocal techniques at his command, many of which he has innovated: overtone singing, warble singing, trill singing, uvulal singing, hum-whistling, mouth percussion and effects, yodelling and pygmy bottle blowing/falsetto singing.

Rick is also schooled in electronic drumming, sampling and electronic processing, and he is able to seamlessly integrate the most minimal and primal shamanic styles with state-of-the-art technology. He is currently working on perfecting live digital looping techniques and computer sound design with his groundbreaking and timbrally innovative solo performance project, Loop.pooL. He has given clinics on live looping for the Percussive Arts Society's annual conventions, and at Digital Music Festivals.

As a studio recording musician he has played over 1000 sessions (for artists such as Martin Simpson, Bob Brozman, Tarika Sammy, Ile Aiye and Amel Tafsout). His recording with Okinawan sanchen master Takashi Hirayasu, American bluesman Bob Brozman and Los Lobos leader David Hidalgo reached number 5 on the European world music charts in 2002. As a producer, he has produced recordings for Worlds Collide, Tao Chemical, Lackadaisy, Ile Aiye (of Brazil), and Amel Tafsout (of Algeria).

As a performing musician, Rick has toured in Europe, Asia and the United States with Bob Brozman, British master guitarist Martin Simpson (playing frame drums, dumbecs, djembes, multiple percussion and drum set), Debashish Bhattacharya (India), Takashi Hirayasu (Okinawa), Rene Lacaille (Reunion), Familia Valera (Cuba), George Pilali (Greece), Djeli, Baba Tunde Olatunji (Nigeria), Abdoulaye Djakite (Senegal), Titos Sompa (Congo), Kevin Kmetz (Japan/USA), Olodum (Brazil), Ile Aiye (Brazil), Henry Kaiser (USA), Moussa Diawara (Guinea) and many, many other master musicians.

He is represented on hundreds of recordings as an instrumentalist, arranger and producer, and on his own original recordings: two CDs of abstract electronica called 'Loop.pooL' and 'Purple Hand'; a live solo looping, multi-instrumental CD, 'Translucent Dayglo Lime Green Plastic'; a CD of a capella vocals and electronics, 'Faux Voix'; and 2008's multimedia CD/DVD of his lo-fi, toy webcam and toy video cam 'animations' of his current abstract electronica compositions. Several of his abstract electronica compositions have been commissioned for Modern Dance choreographers in Northern California.

Political Activism in Music

In recent years, Rick has been extremely active in advocacy for the arts and musicians in particular. He has produced numerous free festivals so that citizens of Santa Cruz and San Jose can be exposed to new artists and emerging trends in musical genres that are threatened by the growing dearth of performance art venues in the area.

Musical Awards for Service to the Arts Community

He has also served as an Arts Commissioner for the City of Santa Cruz from 2003-2005, was one of the first recipients of the Gail Rich Memorial Award for Service to the Arts, and was given a Calabash Award for Service to the Ethnic Arts. At the Y2K7 International Arts Festival , Rick was presented with the key to the city of Santa Cruz, California by mayor Emily Reilly, in recognition of his service to art and the community of musicians in Santa Cruz. (Santa Cruz has been called 'the looping capital of the universe' by UK bassist, Steven Lawson.) Four succesive mayors of Santa Cruz have also declared an 'International Live Looping Day in the City of Santa Cruz, California' because of Rick's work there.

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