“If Bob Dylan was born 20 years later and grew up fraternising in Collingwood bars, he would sound like this.”
Patrick Emery,Beat Magazine, Melbourne*

*The thoughts expressed by these quotes are to impress festival committees & are not necessarily shared by the artist.

Born & raised on the windswept prairies of north-west coast Tasmania, between lashings of hallucinogenic cheese & Magic Johnson, weened on William Blake & Ribald magazine, Van first heard the music of Bob Dylan around adolescence & began picking guitar & writing songs. Some hundreds of songs later and a hell-bent pick, he moved to Melbourne to form the rocknroll outfit The Swedish Magazines, and sing his unique hillbilly stuff on the side.

The first collection of these beguilingly simple songs came out in 2008 entitled   The Celestial Railroad, & in 2009 three separate sessions were released,  The Last Record Store (Jan) Greetings from Penguin Tasmania (Aug) & Love Fate (Oct). Drawing on the grand storytelling tradition of artists such as Ray Davies, Townes Van Zandt, Leon Payne & John Prine, & the acoustic finger-styles of John Fahey &  Mississippi John Hurt, Van created a sound both old & new, with a laconic familiarity that speaks to the heart with an intimacy more effortless than contrived.

“Van Walker writes songs with the ease the rest of us breath.” JB HiFi MAG, Aug, 2010.

He took to the road with a cache of seemingly myriad original compositions & began finding his audience in the most unlikely places, even writing songs while standing on stages, composing ditties to people he’d only just met, & delivering albums with these dedications on them. Songs for local independent record stores (The Last Record Store), pubs nestled deep within the southern wilderness (Blackout), books found & read on lonely train rides (Timbuktu) & even odes dedicated to itinerant musicians doing the very same (Living Like a Gypsy).

Along with these came songs of lovelorn spies (The Singing Detective) downtrodden bus-drivers (Old Joe) transient serial murders (Travelin Man) & drunken rabbits (Wildgrass) to name a few.

“The Oscar Wilde of the Aussie music scene.” Gary Young, ex Daddy Cool & present Chicken Mary presenter, Triple R

By August of 2010 the latest full-length album Bush League Bard was released to more rave reviews. A collection of both new, unheard songs & unrecorded live favorites, teaming up with the same musicians whom graced his debut, BLB was be his last for a while as he awaited the release of a retrospective from The Fuse Music Group entitled UNDERNEATH THE RADAR 2008 ~ 2010, a compilation of songs from his first 5 albums, in an attempt to harness this mercurial torrent of productivity into a digestible overview of an artist unblocked, released  October 28th 2011 to more positive press.

“A superb storyteller ~ MAG Nov 2011

“Words & Music flow out of Van Walker like the rivers that sometimes set the scene for his wonderful storytelling. 4 1/2 stars” ~ Martin Boulton, The AGE

“A captivating storyteller, reminiscent of Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt or Bob Dylan…A true & rare talent that has to be heard.” 4 1/2 stars ~ Denise Hyland, Twang, RRR

Album of the week, Nov 2011, Sydney Morning Herald, B. Zuel

“A devoted songwriter…Walker is a much revered, almost cult figure locally.” RHYTHMS, Nov 2011

“Literary vigor…scathing social commentary… If there is any justice in this world, Underneath the Radar will provoke a radical awareness & appreciation of Van Walker’s songwriting talents.”  Mess & Noise

“Underneath the Radar may not be such a bad place to be. Other songwriters might get more attention, but Melbourne’s Van Walker simply makes music, releasing an astonishing five albums in two years. “The only thing that keeps me sane,” he sings, “is playing music, not the game.” This album gathers 15 songs from those five albums. Ragged, rambling & revealing, it showcases a superb story teller, aware that “the Low Road is long,” but Van Walker is a stayer, not a sprinter.” 4 stars, Music Australia Guide

Past critical response…

“The Celestial Railroad is really is one hell of a prolific record, with songwriting and delivery constructed to break the hearts of many in the Aussie Roots scene who have tried for years to express themselves in this manner.” Nick Argyriou, RHYTHMS


**** Four Stars (Celestial Railroad) Jeff Glorfeld, The Age, Oct 24th, 2008


“Another Lyrical Masterpiece” (The Last Record Store) RHYTHMS, aug ’09


ALBUM OF 2009 (Last Record Store) Cowboy’s Sweetheart BayFM 99.9 Byron Bay


Top Albums of 2009 – THE LAST RECORD STORE – Basement Discs, Melbourne


Best Song of 2009 – DARK RIDER (Last Record Store) Brian ‘WISE’, RRR, Off The Record


Triple J Friends FAV SONG – Beyond Where the Last Buses Run – Robert Murphy, Western Doggies


“An effin’ ripper talent.” Jordie Lane


“A truly great songwriter.” Charles Jenkins


“What a talent! Wildgrass is as fine & original a song as I’ve heard in a long time.” Eric Bibb


“Nice eyes, nice face.” Liz Stringer


If recognition in music was determined by merit everyone would know his name.” Les Thomas, THESE MACHINES CUT RAZOR WIRE

“Like the best country records, at the heart of The Celestial Railroad lay a group of stories, some presumably autobiographical, others possibly metaphorical, but with a resonance that makes them relevant to all of us, regardless of the stage of life’s journey we’re currently on…. and a lyrical metaphor that would be right at home in the pages of a compendium of Australian poetry…” Patrick Emery, Beat Magazine


“Van Walker’s songs are completely original and completely self-assured – there are 15 songs and about 100,000 words on this (Celestial Railroad) record, and not one of ‘em out of place! Great picking, great singing, great songs, great record. One of the best things I’ve heard since Butch Hancock became a river guide!”                                                  Alex Morton @ The Last Record Store, Smith St, Collingwood


“An album (Greetings from Penguin Tasmania) as wild as the Taswegian wilderness.”


Album of the Week GREETINGS FROM PENGUIN TASMANIA (Beat Magazine August 2009)


Album of the Week BUSH LEAGUE BARD  ~ Beat Magazine August 2010


Four Stars: BUSH LEAGUE BARD ~ JB Hi Fi Magazine, August, 2010


‘Four albums all released within the past 18 months. If that’s not prolific I don’t know what is.’ Samuel J Fell, Inpress Magazine


‘There aren’t many songwriters prepared to claim the label of bard these days; like other english terms of yore, it’s usage has fallen victim to the rise of contemporary entertainment discourse, with it’s emphasis on personality & self-promotion. Van Walker is a bard in the classic sense of the term; & like a good bush league player, he’s packing plenty of punch.’ Patrick Emery, Beat Magazine

‘Songwriting isn’t so much something Van Walker does – it’s more something that defines what he is. From the way he works at his guitar playing, the way he structures his performance, his records and his life in general – it all seems to be a means geared toward the end that is some sort of ideal of an illusive classic song. Already he has scraped far closer to this end than many could ever, or will ever hope to get; in my opinion he has already penned a number of minor classics. The only album you’ll find with a better bunch of songs on it than this is his next one.’ Mick Thomas