Billy â€śWonderâ€ť Waltonâ€™s axe work is spontaneous, melodic, and sincere. Whether live or in the studio, he always seems to pull an interesting trick out of his bag.
Many guitarists performing in the rhythm and blues format favored by his band, Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys, are very easily drowned out. They play some chords behind the band, but eventually get lost
in the shuffle. Walton plays with conviction, staying right with his band of Asbury veterans.
â€śBasically we have a horn section and a B-3,â€ť said Walton. â€śItâ€™s a little bit different than just like one guitar, bass trio. You play completely different. Itâ€™s a different style of playing.â€ť
It's a style that requires not only confidence and feel, but also concentration. Walton is often given a chance to strut his stuff during a Boccigalupe songâ€™s lead break, but chooses not to show off.
Instead, he'll play tastefully sweet humming blues licks. â€śYou know, you canâ€™t really play like Jeff Beck, in that setting,â€ť he said. â€śYou can, but you learn to do tasteful stuff, more so than just (playing)
as fast as you can go. Itâ€™s a pretty cool thing.â€ť
When Walton joined the group with keyboard player Tony Amato, he was looking for a band with more rhythm and blues appeal and, of course, a horn section. He appreciates the fact that itâ€™s no longer just
bass and drums behind his guitar solos. â€ś(I) have a fat backing,â€ť he said. â€śSame thing with Tony when he does the keyboard solos. When you take a solo, it doesnâ€™t bottom out. Youâ€™ve got a lot of stuff going
Walton is clearly careful not to step on anyoneâ€™s toes in his lead work. He is still able to make his presence known with biting pinch harmonics, quick blues runs, and old school vibrato. Itâ€™s surprising
seeing a 26-year-old using techniques that were developed many years ago. His professed huge list of influences must play a role in that. These include the aforementioned Beck, Eric Clapton, Little Feat,
and Johnny Winter. In addition to those cited, he brings to mind players like Chuck Berry and, especially, Steve Cropper.
He tries to learn what he can from the players he loves, but still put his own stamp on his music. â€śInfluence doesnâ€™t exactly mean you play just like them, for me anyway,â€ť said Walton. â€śI mean, you pick
up little things here and there.â€ť
Walton did his rhythm guitar homework as well. This is most evident on his work on the bandâ€™s cover of Steven Van Zandtâ€™s â€śForever.â€ť He takes this song to the next level with funky chording and melodic
arpeggios. Waltonâ€™s blend of sounds does justice to the song, which is already a gem in its original state.
Walton also plays a key role in the songwriting, lead and vocal duties of the band. One song he wrote was â€śKarma,â€ť which one night at The Stone Pony he finished singing and proceeded to pull out a ring
and propose to his now fiancĂ©. â€śThat came along from me playing acoustic guitar, I just wrote it for my fiancĂ©, now sheâ€™s my fiancĂ©,â€ť he said. â€śI wrote it about her and sang it to her a little bit and she
loved it.â€ť The song was given the to the rest of the band and eventually made their latest release Itâ€™s My Turn Now.
Walton was challenged in describing how some of Boccigalupeâ€™s songs come about. â€śThereâ€™s a couple of songs that Tony and I worked on together, that we put together, co-writing,â€ť he said. â€śOther songs,
you record something down, then you bring it to the rest of the band. Or there other songs that we just play all together. Every song is different. You know, how it comes, itâ€™s just like magical almost.
How it comes together? Pretty strange, so to say to write one way is a tough one. Every song is different.â€ť
Tough to describe, but fun to listen to.