Walker Lukens gives indie-pop and -rock his own clever twists and spins

Walker Lukens will perform indie-pop and -rock with his own clever twists and spins at Middle of the Map Fest in May.
Walker Lukens will perform indie-pop and -rock with his own clever twists and spins at Middle of the Map Fest in May.

The song “Every Night” opens with doo-wop vocals and finger snaps keeping a soulful groove over a bed of brash, rocking guitars and keyboards as Walker Lukens sings/shouts, “Every night it’s the same old scene …”

The song has a Spoon vibe, and by no accident or coincidence. It was produced by Spoon’s drummer, Jim Eno, and it provides an apt introduction to Lukens, an adventurous singer/songwriter whose sound is more than just sweet hooks and catchy melodies.

Lukens, a resident of Austin, Texas, has issued a few EPs, most recently “Never Understood,” released in October, and an acclaimed full-length, “Devoted,” which inspired the Houston Chronicle to call it “a masterful and expansive collection of progressive contemporary indie pop.”

Song titles will give you a sense of his whimsy: “The Night I Was Kissed by Patti Smith,” “Kindle to Your Fire (Oprah Voice)” and “When I Lost You, Goddamn I Lost.” But they don’t reveal his knack for sonic cleverness or his ability to swoop from one genre or influence to another.

In April, Lukens will release another EP, “Ain’t Got A Reason,” which includes the single “Simple Man,” a breezy pop song also produced by Eno. Its arrangement is more straightforward, giving the lyrics space to live among the sway of guitars and background vocals and the melody room to breathe.

Lukens has been touring with a five-piece band, The Side Arms, which Fusion magazine in his hometown of Austin praised for its ability to be “at one moment heartbreakingly soulful, the next barn-burningly raucous.”

Walker Lukens performs Friday, May 5, at Californo’s as part of Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest. Westside Royal, Pink Royal, Shy Boys and Berwanger are also on the bill.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

Middle of the Map tickets

A variety of ticket options are available for Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest, May 4-6: A three-day pass is $75, a three-day VIP pass is $125. A Thursday pass is $20. Friday and Saturday passes: $35 for general admission, $65 for VIP. Jason Isbell and De La Soul headline Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available now at