This week, Franklin Street had an unusual addition to its sidewalk — a man with long hair and black fingernails handing out flyers advertising his James Taylor tribute band.
The man behind the memos is 52-year-old David Walker, a self-proclaimed cross between Alice in Chains and Lynrd Skynrd from Winston-Salem.
Walker has never attended UNC but said he feels connected to the University because his father was a Morehead-Cain Scholar in 1957.
“I never attended UNC — or any college,” said Walker. “But being the son of a Morehead scholar really makes you soak in Tar Heel pride from the very start.”
Walker said he grew up learning how to play every instrument he could get his hands on, and now teaches guitar lessons in Winston-Salem. He said the musician he connects most with James Taylor.
“I’m out here trying to get people excited about this James Taylor tribute band,” Walker said. “People could really benefit from hearing Taylor’s original songs played in the soft, raspy original style.”
Walker also performs original songs, which he calls “Tar Heel Songs," which are written about elements of Chapel Hill life like the Old Well, the Dean Smith Center and Franklin Street.
Walker’s songs are only available through self-produced YouTube videos linked to his website, tarheelsongs.com.
“I will need financial support to expand to any of the newer mediums like Spotify,” he said. “Hopefully, that’s where a GoFundMe page or sponsor would come in.”
Walker said his ultimate goal is to get deals with Chapel Hill restaurants that would allow him to play for patrons — a goal he has already made progress on achieving.
This year, he's played at yoga and meditation facilities, as well Southern Rail in Carrboro before the restaurant closed.
But Walker said he still has yet to break into the wider, younger demographic.
“I haven’t seen him around,” first-year Gray Kinnier said.
Others may have seen him on Franklin Street but are not fans of tribute bands.
“I just don’t get the whole tribute band thing as a genre,” said first-year Jonathan Boucher. “Like, a cover band is one thing, but a tribute band is a little excessive.”
Without funding, Walker said his dream of regularly performing in Chapel Hill still seems far off for now. Still, he's confident people will see the value of his venture.
“This music, combined with the atmosphere of this town, is magical,” Walker said.
“It’s so much more than just soothing. I really believe that somehow, it’s medically healing for the body," he said.
"People will come around to see that, eventually.”
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