“Our first encounter was in a dive karaoke bar, where ordinarily nothing good happens,” says Rick Walker, whose band Sometimes Julie , cofounded with Monica Sorenson, is about to release a new EP.
“The title, Bright Side of the Line, speaks to the need for perseverance in the face of profound loss. Monica and I spent Christmas 2013 songwriting in Mammoth, California. The trip was intended to be a chance to leave everything behind for just a little while, to get through the first Christmas after the loss of Monica’s son.” Andrew Sorenson died in May 2013.
The EP was produced by Jackstones frontman Andy Machin (owner of Escondido’s Bigrock Studios). "The cover photo was taken nearby by Connor Machin, son of the EP’s producer. The worn surface of the road in the foreground and the mountains in the distance represent the idea of moving forward past adversity and meeting the challenges that lie ahead."
When the EP debuts April 28 at the Merrow, the duo will be backed by a new band. “Our bass player left last August to spend more time with his family…we were getting ready to start gigging again when our lead guitarist told us he couldn't be in the band anymore because his day job had become too demanding. Then in January, our drummer left because he wanted to be in a cover band instead. So, we had to rebuild the band from scratch.”
The revised lineup includes longtime La Jolla drummer George Nelms (Jackstones), as well as a trio of newcomers to San Diego; bass player Bruce Paul Allen from Boston, guitarist Al Moreno from Michigan, and keyboardist Dave Bailey from the Bay Area.
“The sound with our new band members is a little harder-edged,” says Walker. “Our first CD [Head First] had a singer-songwriter aesthetic. Bright Side of the Line is more of a rock record, while still being reflective of our Americana roots. One new thing is that Al is a really talented backing vocalist, so we’re now doing three-part harmonies in our performances, which we couldn’t do with the old band.”
He’s looking forward to the fresh start, and to leaving old bad memories behind. Like the time they played San Marcos’ Jumping Turtle. “We knew we were in trouble when saw that the box office had bars on the window. There were fights in the parking lot that night…the opening act was a guy who had been on America’s Got Talent. His act was to sing karaoke with two hot dancing girls behind him that he had hired that same afternoon.”
...by Sometimes Julie
“At one point in the performance, he awkwardly ripped off his warmup pants to reveal the Speedo he was wearing. It was something.”
A self-taught musician on guitar, bass, and keyboards, Walker's musical career began in the mid-1990s playing in clubs on the north side of Chicago.
Sorenson, a self-diagnosed karaoke addict, found herself looking for that next fix, craving gutsy rock songs and powerful ballads. She grew up in Denver, in a household of talented musicians, and appreciated all types of music.
I asked Walker why they felt the need to bring in players from outside San Diego, with so many talented locals to choose from. "We did look around in the network of local San Diego musicians. We asked friends, people in other local bands, posted on various San Diego musician pages on Facebook, but with limited success. We did find George the drummer and Dave the keyboardist through our network, but had trouble finding a bass player and lead guitarist. The answer we kept getting from people is that they were already involved in multiple projects and didn't have time for another. We ultimately had to post something on bandmix.com to find Bruce and Al. It wasn't our ideal way to find new band members, but I think it is working out very well."
"I don't think I mentioned this before, but Dave Bailey, our new keyboardist, is actually an old friend of Fred Barden, our former lead guitarist. It just turned out that the timing of Dave finalizing his move to San Diego and Fred having to leave the band coincided."