What: Daniel Lawrence Walker and Gypsy Moon (full concert)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce St., Boulder, 303-443-8696
More info: etown.org
D aniel Lawrence Walker put roots and records down in Nashville years ago, but Coloradans might recognize him from his years in Denver.
He lived there from 2004 to 2008, working solo as a songwriter, singer and slide guitarist. Before he left for Nashville, he hadn't yet released an LP, but decided the move would be motivation.
"I felt like I'd reached a point where I was improving musically and with songwriting, and I felt like I'd plateaued as far as growth here and needed a new challenge," Walker said. "I visited Nashville in 2008 and decided it was calling my name. It really pushes you to do your best."
That solo debut, Water and Stone, wouldn't come for another four years. It turned out that he couldn't quite escape the Denver music scene -- Oakhurst was recording in Nashville and needed his help. Between 2011 and 2012, he became a full-time member of the band for the recording and release of Barrel.
"Basically, we've been friends for years, ever since I was living in Colorado," Walker said. "They had a member leave the band in 2011. I was already on a couple tracks and we decided to see what would happen if I became a full member of the band."
After making the "national push" for Barrel, founding members of Oakhurst wanted to return to Denver to be with their families. It made more sense for Walker to go back to his solo work, rather than fly back and forth to continue working with the band.
He finally got to focus on a debut record, some of which was years in the making.
"Actually some of the tracks started out as tracks that I almost completed in Denver five years ago," he said. "It ended up being a Frankenstein-type project where we were adding more and things had to be replaced."
The studio patchwork wasn't delivering the sound he wanted, so Walker pulled together a band and recorded almost every song in one take, live.
"We've been playing together in Nashville now for over four years. We have a great natural resonance playing with each other," he said. "There's a sound you get bringing in great musicians and then there's the sound you get when you have musicians that you've been playing with for years. It was just a really cool thing to hear this album come together."
The key word he uses again and again to explain the success: organic. It helps, too, that he's been playing the same guitar for more than 10 years. It's worn in and familiar.
"The Martin, the mahogany Martin that I play, it's beat up and cracked all over, but it's got a certain character I haven't been able to find in any other guitar," he said. "I think I bought it in '99 or 2000. It's kind of got a nice, mellow sound because the bracings are all messed up. It sounds kind of cool."
Walker and his guitar are back in Colorado, after 20 straight hours of driving Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. When he plays eTown Hall for the first time on Friday, he'll be joined by Lyons dobro player Sally Van Meter.
"She's a world-renowned dobro player. I'm really excited to hear what she's going to do with the songs. I think it's going to be something really special." he said.