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Mike Walden of East2West

East2West cover band guitarist has rockin' history, neighbors

Tucson, Arizona
Published: 09.14.2006

 

Mike Walden, 51, is the guitarist for the cover band East2West.

For the record: You can learn a lot about guitarist Mike Walden during the course of a 15-minute interview. He says he is the only guy in the history of the military to serve on all three legs of the nuclear triad (on a ballistic missile sub, a strategic bomber and with intercontinental ballistic missiles). His great, great grandfather Chang Bunker and Chang's brother Eng were the first conjoined siblings to be dubbed "Siamese twins." And for the past six years Walden's band East2West has been rocking Tucson with covers by everyone from the Allman Brothers to Wilson Pickett. Walden says the band specializes in popular rock tunes but also tries to slip in great lesser-known covers. East2West's next gig is at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort on Sept. 29.

When did you first know you wanted to be a musician?

"I guess when I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. It was how they were playing. They were just so different. Their harmonies and instrumentation were so fresh and brand new. About a year after that I went and got a guitar and started playing."

How did East2West get started?

"There was a house being built next door to mine and the woman living there came over and saw the guitars and said to my wife, 'Your husband plays guitar? My husband plays drums.' So we were going to get together and jam in his garage. "Then I found a guy at work who also moved into the neighborhood. He moved in one street over and he was a keyboard player. He joined up and that is how we started."

Any favorite places to play in town?

"We like to play Westward Look because it is an 8:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. gig. It is three hours. When you play at the French Quarter they like you to start at 9:30 p.m. and end at 1:30 a.m. I'm 51 years old and have to haul all of this equipment around. It's tough. The Westward Look has a beautiful room and people come there to dance. There is no smoking and it is air conditioned."

You served on a submarine in the Navy. Did you play on board?

"I took a 12-string and a six-string down. I would entertain the troops. We would get together in the mess decks and I would put on a little concert for the guys. It was acoustic only. I obviously didn't have an amp down there because you don't want to emit any sounds on a submarine when you are on patrol in the Mid-Atlantic."

How are the acoustics on a nuclear sub?

"Pretty good."