Toby Walker

Guitarist Toby Walker performs on Saturday at the first North Elk Coffee House this season. He describes his musical style as American roots.

Bringing blues and American roots stylings, guitarist Toby Walker opens the latest season the North Elk Coffee House this Saturday.

The Coffee House, housed at St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church in North East, is held on the third Saturday of each month, September through November and January through May. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the performance usually ends at 9:30 p.m.

There is a suggested ticket donation of $8 for adults and $6 for ages under 18. All money that is collected, beyond the cost of running the coffee house, is donated to Meeting Ground, an organization that supports the homeless individuals and families in Cecil County.

Walker is one of eight performers that will take the stage this season at the Coffee House, which has the intimate style of the coffee houses of the 1950’s and 1960’s. He has been performing for 40 years and serves as both musician and music teacher. In 2006, Carnegie Hall hired him to teach their “American Roots” program. His most recent CD is “Shake Shake Mama.”

Being a musician allows Walker to travel all over the world. “Every time I blow into town I’m the new kid in town, so it’s always exciting,” he said.

On Saturday, Walker said it’s likely he’ll keep the audience on their toes. He said in larger shows he’ll ask to turn the house lights up so he can see faces in the audience.

He recently talked with the Whig about his experience as a musician and his favorite music.

How did you become interested in performing?

It was an alternative to working normal jobs. I wasn’t exactly the type that could hold down a job and I loved to perform music.

How would you describe your music?

You could call it roots, American roots. Music dealing in acoustic blues, folk and ragtime.

What do you like about that type of music?

I think it just hits me viscerally when I listen to music like that. When I first listened to the blues when I was about 14 it just struck a chord inside of me.

Do you prefer playing music or teaching music?

I couldn’t do one without the other. I like sharing what I know, but I also like performing.

What should people look forward to at the Coffee House?

The unexpected. I’m always kind of filled with surprises. I write out a set list, but I usually don’t always stick to it. They can expect a lot of humor songs, traveling songs.

What’s your favorite song?

It depends on the time of day, my mood. There’s a Muddy Waters tune, “You Don’t Have to Go.” If I had to go to a desert island and take one song, it would be that one.

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