Pocahontas County Opera House presents blues guitarist Austin Walkin’ Cane

Austin Walkin’ Cane

The Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton presents blues guitarist and songwriter Austin Walkin’ Cane on Saturday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m.

Austin Walkin’ Cane plays original and classic delta blues, featuring slide guitar and soulful vocals. His blues gumbo repertoire can conjure up the ghosts of highway 61 and the delta blues experience. Walkin’ Cane has toured Australia, Nepal, Colombia, France, Germany, England, Wales, and the US, from New Orleans, Louisiana to Juneau, Alaska with only a guitar and suitcase in hand.

His latest album, One Heart Walkin’ was a 2015 Blues Music Award Nominee (formerly W.C. Handy Awards) for “Best New Artist Album.”

A New Yorker review noted that “Austin Walkin’ Cane arrives bearing not only a cool blues calling card but a commanding voice and fiery Delta chops.”

And the Washington Post writes, “If you like Muddy Waters, go see Austin Walkin Cane.”

Austin walked for ten years with a cane due to an arterial venous malformation he had since birth. While performing on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a homeless man called out, “Hey Walkin’ Cane, got some spare change for a brother?”

Austin subsequently took the jibe as his nickname. In 1996, after years of battling the inevitable, his left leg was amputated below the knee. A year after the surgery, he returned to the music scene stronger and without need of a cane.

“One Heart Walkin’” is the latest incarnation of Walkin’ Cane’s synthesis of original compositions with roots music cultures, combining and transcending the troubadour traditions of Delta blues, Memphis blues, Chicago blues, and Bourbon Street jazz. The songs on “One Heart Walkin’” were co-written by Austin with collaborator, guitarist, and grade-school friend, Chris Allen. The album of originals came to life with the help of legendary producer and bassist Don Dixon.

During the summer of 2014, “One Heart Walkin’” was recorded in two days at the historic G.A.R. Hall in Peninsula, OH. Built in 1850, the former schoolhouse and Civil War Veteran’s hangout, set the perfect mood for the album. Listening to Cane’s most recent album is like being a passenger on the old Illinois Central Railroad. The album takes the listener from the south side of Chicago, through the deep south of the Mississippi Delta with stops in Memphis, Clarksdale, and Bentonia, ultimately spiriting toward the end of the line in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Fans may recognize Walkin’ Cane’s work from his performances on National Public Radio’s nationally-syndicated game show, “Says You,” as well as from his musical work airing on Sirius/XM Radio’s B.B. King’s Bluesville.

Tickets are $10 for adults. Youth 17 and younger are admitted free of charge. Tickets are available at the door and in advance at pocahontasoperahouse.org or at the Fourth Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.

The Pocahontas County Opera House is located at 818 Third Avenue in Marlinton. Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. The entrance and main seating are accessible to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend; special accommodations can be arranged upon request by calling 304-799-6645.

The Opera House Performance Series is presented with financial assistance through a grant from the WV Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the WV Commission on the Arts. Support is also provided by Pocahontas County Drama, Fairs and Festivals and the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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