MusicMakers: The Walkaways With Todd Daniel

By Moira E. McLaughlin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 4, 2009

Todd Daniel, 30, singer, guitarist and lead songwriter for the local alt-country band the Walkaways, may sound like Son Volt's Jay Farrar, but he performs (he hopes) with the energy of fellow New Jerseyite Bruce Springsteen.

For almost three years, the Walkaways have been playing the local scene to enthusiastic crowds. The group plays Friday at the Bullpen at Nationals Park and Saturday at the Rookery. The Walkaways have yet to make the leap to the bigger venues such as the Birchmere and the 9:30 club, but with the release last summer of their first CD, "Fifty Left to Burn," Daniel feels pretty good about the local music scene and his band.

First album you ever owned:

My grandma got me a Monkees tape when I was 6 or 7.

What is your most rock-and-roll moment?

It's not really one moment, but there are shows where things are really clicking and you can really feel it. We recently had the opportunity to headline an Iota show, which is one of our favorite places to play. And in a venue like that, when you have the support behind you and the house is full and the people are cheering and singing along, there really is no feeling like it.

Do you remember the first time you played in front of an audience?

Vividly, actually. It was at Jammin' Java. I started out with an acoustic duo called Broken Taillight, just me and another guy on guitar. . . . It was nerve-racking to begin with, and then when they throw those hot lights at you at Jammin' Java, it really is very intimidating. From what I am told, my legs didn't move the entire time.

What do you like about the music scene here?

The best thing about the music scene here is the camaraderie with the other local musicians. We've been fortunate enough to have a family circle of musicians with the Reserves, Wes Tucker and the Skillets, [and] Tom McBride and the Whig Party. They're fantastic guys that are willing to give each other breaks.

What's with the album title, "Fifty Left to Burn"?

It was a lyric from one of the songs called "Over," [which is] about graduating college and looking forward, or dreading the next years of your life.

What's your favorite song on the album?

It's like picking your favorite child. Isn't that what they say? I like "When You're Gone" a lot.

Which band or singer would you like to be compared to?

I am such a Bruce Springsteen fan and an admirer of him as a performer as much as a songwriter, so that might have to be my answer.

Any band you're embarrassed to admit you like?

I like my Huey Lewis and the News every now and then. Is that embarrassing? Some would classify that as embarrassing. I think they'd be wrong.

The Walkaways Appearing Friday at the Bullpen at Nationals Park, 1299 Half St.SE (Metro: Navy Yard). Show starts at 6 p.m. Also appearing Saturday at the Rookery, 2519 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Show starts at 10 p.m. Cost: Free.

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