‘Blues’ Brightens Oswego Middle School Learning Experience

OSWEGO, NY – Toby Walker is a blues performer who is well-known throughout the United State and Europe for his style and talent.

Recently, the guitar virtuoso and performer, who is among the very best in the acoustic blues scene, was in an intimate classroom setting at Oswego Middle School.

Toby Walker performs for some OMS students.
Toby Walker performs for some OMS students.

Walker conducted a wonderful learning experience for a group of music students as he not only displayed the various sounds of his wide assortment of instruments and guitars, but also talked about the roots and history of blues music.

Arts-in-Education coordinator Paul Brewster said, “Toby Walker was brought here through the Arts-in-Education program. He was already in the area to do some local performances and agreed to make a school visitation to the Oswego Middle School.”

Brewster continued, “It supported our eighth grade music guitar unit. As part of the guitar unit students learned to play two different versions of the blues.”

According to a review of his ability Walker was termed “Superlative as a slide guitarist and finger-picker, his stylistic repertoire seems limitless. Equal parts instrumentalist, singer and storyteller, Toby Walker plays with the grit and truehearted feeling of a man whose heart and soul lives and knows the blues.”

He captivated Oswego’s students with his style, music and stories.

The eighth graders saw many connections in hardships in life in relation to “blues” music.

Walker explained to the students that  he has taken every opportunity to travel down South to apprentice with the old-school bluesmen, learning finger picking and slide methods, syncopations, rhythms and tunings directly from the last generation of Golden-Era blues musicians.

Besides absorbing everything he could from records and books, he learned first-hand from old masters like R.L. Burnside, Eugene Powell (aka. Sonny Boy Nelson), James “Son” Thomas, Jack Owens of Betonia, Bud Spires, Etta Baker, Turner Fuddrell and many more.

He was welcomed into the homes and backyards of these blues men because he is a genuinely sincere, nice and affable fellow who is the “real deal” – a hardworking and talented devotee of the blues who had the chops to back it up.

Today, he is a keeper of the old traditions of these unforgotten musicians, but Walker is not singularly a preservationist.

He honors the authentic country blues traditions and old songs, but with his own compositions keep the music fresh and contemporary.

Brewster said, “Toby Walker is quickly becoming recognized as one of the preeminent blues guitarists in the nation and has traveled throughout America and Europe.”

The OMS music teacher finished by saying, “I was not only impressed with his musical talent but also his ability to draw historical connections between the music and the roots of American popular music.”