Living on the beach, it’s no secret that Hamptonites enjoy spending their summers “taking it easy.” Eagles crooner Joe Walsh’s signature casual demeanor would suggest that he does too. But his three decades as a music industry icon prove otherwise. Fresh off the release of Analog Man, Walsh’s first solo album in 20 years, the Grammy award winning guitarist will make a stop at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Saturday as a part of his national and international tour.
“I don’t know what I would do if it wasn’t this,” says Walsh of his career. Though best known for his musical prowess as a solo artist and as an integral part of the Eagles, Walsh is also a record producer and actor. Walsh joined the Eagles in 1976, and he is widely credited with shifting the group’s sound from country/folk to a harder rock genre. He was behind the smash hit Hotel California, The Long Run and Eagles Live albums. But he has always dabbled with a solo career, releasing his first solo album in 1973.
His newest release is a tribute to his longevity as an artist. “I’m an analog guy, because that’s the technology that was around for most of my life,” began Walsh, as he explains the meaning behind the title Analog Man. “Now everything is digital.”
But it’s a misconception to think that Walsh is a dinosaur apt to coin the proverbial expression “When I was your age, I had to walk uphill both ways in the snow!” “I’m not a hermit!” rebuts Walsh. To the contrary, Walsh provides interesting insight into today’s obsession with the digital age and virtual reality. “Sometimes it seems like our body is just sitting there waiting for our minds to return. Does the digital age work for us, or do we work for it?”
Regardless, he’s clearly not slowing down any time soon. “I’m not done – I’m just a kid in this body,” says Walsh, who doesn’t have concrete future plans, but simply hopes to “keep going.” In that vein, Walsh cites “luck” as a key aspect to his success and to the different paths his talents have allowed him to explore.
His self-proclaimed casual path to fame may be best summed up with his cameo appearance on friend Drew Carey’s “The Drew Carey Show.” When Walsh asked Carey what he should do on the show, Carey responded with “We’ll figure something out.” Naturally, it went over well, and Walsh was invited back for another episode. From there, he was asked to work in movies, and he wrote and or performed songs for various Hollywood flicks, including The The Waterboy, Grown Ups and The Dukes of Hazzard.
Influenced by such musicians as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, Walsh is at a stage in his career where he realizes that he is now a role model for today’s budding singer-songwriters. “When I was young, I didn’t really have a path,” he explains. Having idols in the industry helped to shape the musician that he is today, and Walsh embraces the responsibility that comes with fame.
“It’s a compliment,” Walsh says of his newfound role. “I want to be there for them…This isn’t about me.”
Saturday’s performance will be a medley of classic tunes and songs off of Analog Man. Opening for Walsh will be JD & The Straight Shot, which is fronted by James Dolan. Though Dolan is known as the CEO of Cablevision Systems Corporation and as executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company, Walsh vouches for his friend’s musical dexterity.
“I know Jim,” says Walsh. “He just wants to play guitar. If he really had his choice, he’d just be playing in a blues band. He’s really a good guy.”
JD & The Straight Shot will also open at a handful of other stops on the Northeastern section of Walsh’s tour, including in Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Joe Walsh at WHBPAC, 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach. 631-288-1500, whpbac.org. Tickets $150-$250. Walsh will also perform at a benefit concert on August 8 in Westbury. Visit www.ujafedny.org/summerfest for more information.