Living The Dream
When passion gives order to one’s life, difficult decisions seem simple and even long days don’t feel like work. It took Walker Lukens ’09 some time to realize his lifelong passion for music would lead him to his career as a musician and songwriter.
“Being a musician is more of a lifestyle choice than a career or economic one,” said Lukens, who calls being a musician a working class job.
Lukens has realized through his passion for music that he is someone who lives to work, rather than works to live. Even when he’s exhausted after putting in a nine-hour day between rehearsals, sound checks, performances and loading out from a venue, he said, “Music doesn’t feel like work.”
A philosophy major at Southwestern, Lukens was concerned not only with doing well on his assignments, but also finding the next party and then getting to class on time the next morning.
“That comment may raise eyebrows,” he said, “but I consider it a privilege to have been able to live, study and recreate in such a safe and isolated environment.”
Lukens said he was always serious about music but found himself frustrated he didn’t have time or energy for it as a Southwestern student. However, he would reward himself for studying by playing piano in The Alma Thomas Fine Arts Center.
Although he knew by the time he graduated he would never be a philosopher or an academic, Lukens spent a couple of years after graduation with music on the back burner. He moved to New York City and earned a teaching certificate for English as a Second Language.
“I never would have planned it that way, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Lukens said. “Those two years I spent away from music only reaffirmed that it’s what I really wanted to be doing.”
While in New York and keeping in touch on social media, Lukens saw some of his friends doing well as professional musicians in Austin.
“I was on the subway one day, carrying all my gear to a gig that I was playing for free and saw on Facebook that my friend’s band was playing Blues on the Green…and getting paid,” he said.
Two months later, he moved back to Austin and finally followed his passion as a musician.
“I never expected to need to learn tax code, recording software, bookkeeping, marketing and car maintenance, among other things. But, I did, and going to a school like SU taught me how to think and take on new challenges,” Lukens said. “My liberal arts education has been so important to my professional life.”
Lukens now tours solo and with his backing band, The Side Arms. They have performed at festivals including SXSW, CMJ, Underground Music Showcase and Untapped.
His last independently released record, Devoted, received praise from NPR’s “All Songs Considered,” American Songwriter, Billboard, MTV Hive, the Houston Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman. He is currently recording two new records, Baked Goods and Lukens Spookens, to be released this year.
Additional information can be found at walkerlukens.com.