Walkin' The Tightrope

MaineList Article: Walkin' The Tightrope

Walkin' The Tightrope

“Walkin’ The Tightrope” is a “Stevie Ray Vaughan” tribute band out of Old Orchard Beach, who is still very new on the local music scene. But why are these three local musicians covering Stevie Ray Vaughan?

Why SRV?Maybe it’s the fact that Stevie Ray Vaughan was considered one of the most influential electric blues guitarist of all time. In fact, in 2003, “Rolling Stone” Magazine rated Vaughan at #7 in a list of 100 Greatest Guitarist of All Time!

Perhaps it was Vaughan’s untimely death from a helicopter crash back in 1990 that encouraged the band members to help people remember a hero? Or could it be just the love and appreciation for good solid blues guitar?

Out of the countless choices of rock and blues bands that could be attributed, it was in fact Vaughan that originally inspired “Damion Joyce”, the band’s front-man singer / guitarist, into picking up the guitar at the late age of twenty.

I typically hear musicians starting at a much earlier age, and despite the late start, Damion shows some impressive lead guitar playing skills. Impressive enough to be able to role-play the part of the legendary blues guitar player, Stevie Ray Vaughan. I asked Damion why, out of all bands that he “could” play if he so desired.. why did he elect to tribute SRV?

Damion Joyce“Well for starters, his licks were too soon forgotten!” Damion said with a fevered emphasis to declare that this once triumphant blues player seemed to have fallen between the cracks. “His soulful playing has been a life-long inspiration to me.”

Damion’s guitar playing started at age twenty when his dad used to play drums at their home near Wadleigh’s Pond in Lyman. His father would jam with some pretty hot guitar players out of Boston, Massachusetts. These guests would arrive to practice for fill-in gigs for various bands, or sometimes they would just come by to jam. I thought it was interesting to discover that his father had actually filled in on drums for “B.B.King” in the past as well as “Gene Pitney”.

“My dad brought me over to “Master Music” in Biddeford, when I saw a SRV signature series guitar. I was in awe!” It seems ever since that memorable moment in Damion’s early adulthood, he has aspired to become the best that he can be at his chosen instrument.

Damion ExperienceI have seen Damion jam alongside quite a few other notable players in the local community, he’s done countless open mic nights through the years, filled in for various bands, and held positions in acts that book regularly, especially in the Old Orchard Beach area which is where he resides. Working along with guys like “Rick Perrone” with “Ricky & The Night Rockers”, or as a second guitar player with “Craig Wing” from “Stairway To Hell”, which is a local act paying Tribute to two legendary bands; “Led Zeppelin” and “AC-DC”!

But, if you remember the early to mid-90’s in Old Orchard Beach, you may be familiar with “Spring Loaded”, a band who rotated their gigs with “Riot Act” at either “The Whitehall” or “Porkies”, on a weekly basis. Both bands played exclusively at these two venues for a few summers in a row.

I’ve also had the opportunity to jam with Damion on a couple of occasions in the past too. He’s really a good musician, understands the mechanics of music, and has taken the initiative to always continue the learning process by constantly taking notes from other players, and even enrolling in an ongoing guitar lesson routine with his friend and personal mentor; “Craig Wing”.

Daryl HawesIn fact, it was through Craig’s own guitar school in which the band found it’s roots. Bass player, “Daryl Hawes”, also sought out lessons through Craig, who helped introduce the two band-seeking musicians.

Daryl has been gigging since 1993 in clubs throughout Los Angeles and his home state of Connecticut. Fairly new to the Maine music scene, but certainly not new to the entertainment industry in general. Daryl’s bass playing skills would be perfect for the part of this classic blues trio.

So after talking and jamming with Damion, the two musicians set out to find their drummer. Damion decided to put an ad out on Craig’s List when they were delighted to find their drummer.

“Scott Palamountain” ended up responding to that ad, and is happy to be a part of the band.

Scott Palamountain“Yeah! And I never go on Craig’s List either! It was kind of weird how it happened.” Scott explained. They have been together since November of 2007 and seem to be getting off to a good start with a full dress visual presentation and the technical ability to pull off the tasty riffs.

Scott has played in many other bands too. One notable band was “Network”, which he booked gigs with for about twelve years before retiring from the band over a year ago. “My passion is music. This is all I really want to do.” His past gigging experiences have taken him all up and down the east coast, mostly New England, but as far south as Philadelphia.

Breakin The BubbleI met up with Walkin' The Tightrope at the “Pier Patio Pub” in Old Orchard Beach. It seems that just about every time I see Damion perform, it’s in O.O.B.

“I’m having a hard time breaking out of the bubble.” Admitted Damion, who’s ambition is to start carrying himself outside of Maine and into the New England circuit. Of coarse it’s merely a coincidence that I only see him in his home town, because he does perform in many of the nearby towns in Southern Maine.

“I’d really love to play at “Foxwoods”. There’s no reason this band shouldn’t be doing gigs like that, we all get along great, and we all have the same appreciation for the music we’re playing.”

On The Pier

This weekend was The Pier’s “Beerfest”. I actually missed the daytime crowd, which from what I heard was a pretty good turnout.

The opening band was “Damaged Goods” who was just filling in as a favor to Damion. They did a great job filling in, especially considering they weren’t even using their own gear. They all seemed pleased to be a part of what was going on, and showed their appreciation through their performance.

I Want His Hat!By the time Walkin’ The Tightrope came on stage, I could see the anticipation of the room beginning to grow. I, myself, was curious how many of the songs I would know, but was surprised how much I actually did recognize. A couple of songs into their first set, the band ripped out “Cold Shot” which brought the first stream of dancers to the floor.

One of the waitresses at the bar commented that she wanted to steal Damion’s hat, a wide brimmed pimp-like hat which is a fashion Stevie Ray Vaughan is notorious for wearing. “I would give it back the next day, but I just wanna wear it for a day!” She explained. I couldn’t resist the urge to get Damion to let her wear the hat for a picture, which she seemed to appreciate.

I spoke with a few guests in the room who shared their opinions about the band. Kristian, a resident of Old Orchard remarked briefly; “I’m not expecting SRV, but this guy is doing a pretty good job. The band could be a little slow by comparison, but overall they are covering all of the key parts.” He seemed to be appreciative of good music, and gave me some recommendations of his own to look into sometime.

AngelaAnother voiced opinion came from “Angela”, the beer girl at the Pier Patio Pub, who pointed out that it’s still early in the season and these guys are doing a fine job keeping people interested. “They seem to be keeping people in the room, which is what’s most important.” She said.

I ended up having quite a few words with Angela, who had some interesting stories of her own to tell. “I grew up with bands all my life. “Rod Price” was my uncle. He was the guitar player for “Fog Hat”, if you remember them. And my dad, also performed with “Molly Hatchet” on guitar.”

Angela and MichaelAngela has traveled all over the country countless times, and been around music all her life, so it felt right to gather her thoughts for the article.

A lot of locals know “Michael John Buckley”, a regular patron in the O.O.B. social bar scene. “I really love music!” Buckley shouted over the solo that Damion was performing. His head bobbing up and down to the rhythm of the music, Buckley’s interest in music in general is usually pretty high.

“I play guitar too you know!” Michael is better known for building condos through his own company; “Wishing Well Custom Designs”, but loves to air guitar with the bands in the area whenever he can.

Set ListWalkin’ The Tightrope doesn’t only play songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

“If Stevie were doing a show, he would play a selection of covers, and we try to pick songs that Stevie would pick if he were doing a live performance.” Explained Daryl. “Damion actually pointed this out early on, and we all thought it was a great way to keep the set list familiar to our audience.”

So you might hear a song by “Etta James” or “Jimi Hendrix”, or even the ever-popular tavern favorite; “Mustang Sally” to name a few. But it’s Vaughan’s epic songs like “Crossfire” and “Pride and Joy” that are bound to get the most crowd response.

Each of the band’s members enjoys performing a different song for their own personal reasons. Damion likes to play “Texas Flood”, Scott seems to enjoy the Hendrixian songs like “Little Wing” and “Voodoo Chile”, while Daryl is equally content to perform “Cold Shot”.

SRV GuitarNow, I remember when Stevie Ray Vaughan was in his prime. I actually worked at “Master Music” when Damion saw that guitar back in the day, and remember the guitar, and particularly the extremely tall price tag that went along with the name. I remember the videos on MTV, and remember the soulful blues that came out of his contributions to the music scene. But as Damion mentioned during my interview, I seemed to have forgotten just how powerful Vaughan’s riffs really were, and how soon those memories seemed to have been washed away. I must say, it was nice to be reacquainted with some of the more soulful moments of my 80’s past.

Damion’s attitude was humble, he wasn’t pretending to be someone he’s not. In fact, he was very appreciative of Vaughan, and was quick to admit that there’s nothing like the real thing. His choice to tribute the legend is only an act of admiration towards someone who he personally considers to be one of the best guitar players of his time. Someone who helped inspire Damion to pickup and learn to play the guitar in the first place. In fact, Damion outwardly confessed that he considers this to be something that he never could have imagined for himself. The chance to role-play his own personal guitar hero.

Summary“When I first started playing, I used to have dreams that someday I would learn to play good enough to be in a band that could do some SRV, but I never could have imagined back then that I’d eventually be able to cover an entire night of his material.”

I, myself, was glad to see Damion doing this too. I have known Damion for many years. His personality is often complimentary of his peers. He’ll be quick to point out all of “your” best features. He’ll often highlight the various ways that “you” have helped him, or direct your attention to “your own” accomplishments.

But now, it’s my turn to say… Damion Joyce… “You” are doing something cool. I’m looking forward to the day when you are writing your own material, and giving us all a taste of the inner-qualities of your heartfelt experiences too!


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