The much-sought-after Grand Rapids guitarist unleashed new jaw-dropping songs for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks by Ryder Jones, eRoy, The Soods, Justin Avdek and more.
Justin Wierenga is “always searching for that elusive sound.”
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Not only does that explain the Grand Rapids guitarist’s arsenal of guitars, effects pedals and vintage amplifiers, but that quest manifests itself in the expansive array of sounds and wildly eclectic instrumental music featured on Wierenga’s debut solo album, “Walking Like He Knows Something,” that officially gets released on New Year’s Day.
“This album’s kind of a fun representation of … a little bit of everything,” says Wierenga, who started playing guitar when he was 12 as a kid growing up in New Era, Mich., and writing music soon after.
“I love all types of world music. I love rock music, I love folk and bluegrass … of course, psychedelic rock and more avant garde noise aspects, funk, a little country thrown in there. I’m just trying to represent everything that I kind of have going on in my head really.”
Well known as a sideman who’s worked with numerous Michigan artists over the years – from Hannah Rose Graves to Muruga Booker to Justin Avdek’s Underground Circus – Wierenga concedes he’s always picking up new custom or vintage gear to create the right sonic milieu.
“It is a never-ending process. I’m always searching for that elusive sound that sometimes I get close to,” he says, professing a love for “a good clean sound” and reverence for players like Ry Cooder and David Lindley (though he’s also fond of heavy bands such as Black Sabbath and Motorhead). “I like weird stuff that you can’t just go get off the shelf.”
Wierenga brought some of that stuff with him into the studio at WYCE for this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, performing two impressive, mind-bending new songs – “Marshville” (using “a crazy open C tuning”) and “Grizzly Trout” – that also appear on his new album. Watch a video of his performance here, with the full radio show podcast below.
VIDEO: Justin Wierenga on Local Spins on WYCE (12/21/18)
Much of the material on Wierenga’s new recording – which also features longtime associates Justin Avdek on bass and Mario Copeland on drums – was spawned by improvisational jam sessions, with the guitarist retaining the best ideas to create songs for his project. It was recorded by Addison Eilers in essentially one day in Avdek’s parents’ home in Muskegon (where Grand Rapids’ Earth Radio also laid down its debut album).
“It finally came to a point that I had a good mix of tunes ready and I’m going to put this on an album,” says Wierenga, raving that musical comrades Avdek and Copeland really “brought it to life.
Although Wierenga insists he’ll “always do the sideman thing,” he’s also looking forward to rolling out the album during solo and trio shows in January and beyond, with solo performances booked for Jan. 3 at Sacred Springs Kombucha at 1059 Wealthy St. SE in Grand Rapids and Jan. 17 at Rockford Brewing Co. in Rockford.
He also plays a New Year’s Eve show with Cosmic Knot at The Platinum Room in Muskegon and Jan. 9 with Avdek and Eric Engblade at Kentwood District Library.
This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE – which airs at 11 a.m. Friday on 88.1 FM – also featured brand new regional music from Avdek (this week’s musician’s pick), Ryder Jones, FADE, The Soods, eRoy and May Erlewine & The Motivations, as well as songs by Cabildo and The Zannies. Listen to the podcast here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (12/21/18)
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