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Lonnie Walker, 'original Spazz,' to return for Spazz Fest 9

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Mackenzie Tewksbury

Thursday, March 1, 2018

When a group of art students met in an intermediate photography class at East Carolina University in the early 2000s, it sparked a future none of them expected. 

Now, that same group of art students and their friends — Brian Corum, Eric Hill, Raymond Finn and Mike Robinson — are the musical talents of the band Lonnie Walker. They perform all over Raleigh, but their origin is deeply rooted in Spazz Fest. 

“It’s where we came from, it’s where we started,” Corum, vocalist of the band said. 

The group formed shortly after meeting at East Carolina University, and Lonnie Walker is one of the first groups to ever perform at Spazz Fest nearly 10 years ago. In previous years, they’ve shared the lineup with Future Islands, Matt Phillips and the Philharmonics and Zack Mexico. They return this year to headline at Crossbones Tavern, and they bring with them a hint of nostalgia but a lot of energy. 

“It’s nostalgic, a blast from the past,” Corum said. “There’s still a lot of love there after all the years.” 

Lonnie Walker seems to have grassroots beginnings, as Corum explained he was playing solo as Lonnie Walker and recording solo songs before collaborating with Robinson and uploading the recordings to then-popular MySpace and GarageBand. Then, while connections kept on unfolding with Hill, Finn and Robinson, the music just never stopped.

“We had common connections and we vibed musically,” said Corum said. “There was never like a moment where we decided we were gonna be a band for almost 15 years.” 

But that’s exactly what happened for the ECU graduates. The band often plays at Raleigh venues like Kings and Pour House Music Hall and recently sold out a show at The Lincoln Theater. However, Corum said Greenville will always hold a special place in the band’s heart. And even though Greenville has changed a lot since they were college students — most of the restaurants and bars they once knew are now completely different — they remain excited to return to the place where the music was born. 

“It’s like going back to the old college hang out,” Corum said. 

“Maybe I’ll check out 519,” guitarist Eric Hill added with a laugh. 

Hill said those interested in going to the festival should not be quick to rule out the quality of it. The festival brings impressive music from all over the east coast to the bars and music venues of Greenville, and Hill said it’s more than worth the money. 

“People have a tendency to not think of Greenville to have cool things like Spazz Fest,” Hill said. “Experience it for yourself. It’s a really cool event.” 

 With years of Spazz experience under his belt, Corum offered a very simple piece of advice to those choosing to embark on the four-day adventure. 

“Stay hydrated. It’s gonna be a long night,” Corum laughed. 

Lonnie Walker performs at Crossbones Tavern at 9 p.m. at Friday, March 23 with Nana Grizol, Loamlands and Paperhaus. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.