Music Q&A: New Riders of the Golden Maize
This week, a chat with Jack Wilkie and other members of the New Riders of the Golden Maize, a local band with a following.
The band, the New Riders of the Golden Maize, has been together since 2009. Its members, Tom Wyatt, Mark Obu, Steve Boynton, T.R. Ryder and Jack Wilkie, live in Champaign, Urbana and Savoy.
How did you get started and where did the name come from?
Tom was referred to Mark through another musician friend, Rob Krumm, currently with the band Creole Stomp. Mark then brought in Steve, T.R. and Jack. The band name, originated by Mark, is a playful nod to a classic 1970s band, incorporating a central Illinois agricultural product. (Actually, the original name was the "Old Riders ..." but our vanity got the better of us!)
Did that 1970s band have any influence on your band and do you play any of their songs?
While we don't play any songs by the New Riders of the Purple Sage, we draw on the same country roots that they did.
Do you have a favorite local venue, and why?
Each venue has its unique features. We love playing where the crowds are lively, where their energy feeds us and stimulates us, where they dance and whoop it up!
What are you excited about right now?
Summer gigs, especially outside!
What is your latest project?
We just finished a demo CD and we are working on original material.
We have upcoming gigs at the Rose Bowl, Huber's, Clark Bar and Kickapoo Landing.
How did you first grow interested in music and does your family have a musical history?
Steve: "My aunt and uncle were interested in music; I got a Spanish guitar." Mark: "Although I have no family musical background, I got the bug in junior high when a friend showed me how a Fender Strat looked when played through an oscilloscope!" TR: "Banging on a toy piano." Tom: "Played at school dances." Jack: My Dad got Beatles and Dylan records when I was a kid; I was also influenced by church "folk masses" in the 1960s. I got my first guitar when I was 9.
Which bands did you like as a teenager and which now and who has influenced you?
Steve: ELP and Yes; everything now. Mark: Beatles, '50s and '60s R & B and soul. TR: The Doors, Deep Purple and early REO Speedwagon then; Mavericks and Derailers now. Tom: Chantays, Surfaris, Duane Eddy, Ventures, Booker T and the MGs; now Johnny Cash, Elvis, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Vince Gill and George Strait. Jack: Beatles, Dylan then and still; lately, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Jayhawks, Drive By Truckers, Mavericks, Bottlerockets.
How often do you play and how do you balance this with work and family?
We play two or three times a month. Our priorities are family, work and the band, in that order.
Do you write your own songs?
Yes, we are starting to do that, and we have played an original composition at several gigs.
Is touring still fun or has it become a chore?
We still enjoy hitting the road throughout the "tri-county area."
What's your favorite song?
We like a wide range of musical genres, from the Beatles to Buck Owens and back!
Do you feel a special connection with the audience?
Yes, nothing beats playing in front of an appreciative, dancing, enthusiastic audience.
What's your favorite clothing?
Trousers (but no spandex!) and hats!