Johnny and the Wallkers isn’t your typical cover band.
“We put a lot of effort into not sounding like the cover band you saw last week at the pub,” said guitarist John Samulski.
The Vancouver-based group accomplishes that seemingly impossible feat with a widely varied set list of songs that range from R&B classics to AC/DC, Van Morrison to The Ramones, and almost everything in between.
“Really the only rule is we don’t play anything we don’t like ourselves,” he said. “It’s the only way we can keep it fun for ourselves.”
Samulski said that mandate often leads to surprising results and odd songs making the band’s playlist.
“There are some songs we never thought in a million years would make our list,” he said. “One example is Paul McCartney’s ‘Maybe I’m Amazed.’ One of the band members nominated it for the set list, and I remember thinking it wasn’t really the type of song you hear cover bands sing. I was really reluctant until we started playing it. Once we figured out all the arrangements and we got about halfway through it and we were all giggling at how good it sounded. We just don’t do typical.”
Even the band’s name isn’t typical.
“Most bands get named for the front man… the singer,” Samulski said. “But we went through a few names before we settled on Johnny and The Wallkers. I don’t even sing. But I guess they couldn’t make much out of Samulski. So we went with Johnny and the Wallkers because I’m Johnny and the other members had Walker as last names, and Wall… which is why there are two Ls in the Wallker part.”
The group plays about 50 or more gigs a year around the Vancouver area, according to Samulski.
“That’s pretty good for what is essentially a hobby for us,” he said. “We all have lots of experience playing in bands, but really, now this is something we do for fun, and not to feel like work. In fact, the biggest compliment we get is that we look like we are having a lot of fun on stage. Although we do play a lot during the year, and our spouses do tend to get a bit cranky about that… so we’ve actually had to turn down some shows this year.”
Fortunately, Johnny and the Wallkers didn’t turn down a chance to play at the annual Diamonds and Pearls Gala on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Howe Sound Inn and Brew Pub.
The fundraiser for the Sea to Sky Community Services features dancing, food, drinks and fun with door prizes including a $1,000 travel voucher, two tickets to the Paul McCartney concert and a night at Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa. Tickets are $100 and available at SSCS, 38144 Second Ave. (across the street from The Chief) or at by calling (604) 892-5796.