Madi­son Drive in­spires al­bum

Mu­si­cian takes spirit of Ne­wark street global

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By DARA MCBRIDE Special to the Post

In ad­di­tion to Ne­wark’s Home Grown Café and Argilla Brew­ing Com­pany, mu­sic has taken in­de­pen­dent folk artist Shane Palko to Thai­land, Australia and South Africa, among many other places.

Palko, 29, ex­pects to be on the road for about half of 2018. He left for his cur­rent tour through Latin Amer­ica, which started in Penn­syl­va­nia and ex­tends to Panama, on Dec. 8 and plans to re­turn home Feb. 26.

For Palko, mu­sic is a way to share ideas and bring peo­ple to­gether.

“We want to give to our neigh­bors, be­cause right now the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate is not great, and so what we want to do is just play shows for free and be here with the peo­ple,” said Palko, speaking by phone while trav­el­ing be­tween Hon­duras and Nicaragua on Tues­day.

He’s been mak­ing the jour­ney with two friends – bass player Tyler Yoder, a Ne­wark res­i­dent who has his own band, Mi­lieu Lust, and drum­mer Evan Stout – and writ­ing al­most ev­ery day. Palko ex- pects to per­form at least two con­certs in each coun­try, about 30 con­certs to­tal, by the end of the trip. His goal is to keep the in­ter­na­tional con­certs free, us­ing funds raised at his U.S. per­for­mances.

Palko, who grew up in Lan­den­berg, Pa., and in­tends to build a home there some­day, came to mu­sic at a young age and ini­tially formed a band with two of his broth­ers. He counts Ne­wark-born band Boy­sets­fire as in­flu­en­tial for show­ing him “mu­sic could be a way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing ideas and not just pretty sounds.”

Palko didn’t ex­pect to be tour­ing his mu­sic all over the world. He at­tended the Univer­sity of Delaware, where he stud­ied hu­man ser­vices and writ­ing. When he is in the area, he works as a so­cio-en­vi­ron­men­tal education spe­cial­ist at NorthBay Adventure Camp in North East, Md., which puts chil­dren in touch with the en­vi­ron­ment.

Through­out all his work is a cel­e­bra­tion of place.

“I’m re­ally fas­ci­nated by the way peo­ple con­nect to an area, and how it’s im­por­tant to have a home and an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the place that you’re from,” Palko said.

The idea to travel as much as pos­si­ble came when Palko was a teenager. One sum­mer, he said, he filled in as a drum­mer with a Chris­tian band tour­ing Thai­land. Be­cause of his young age, he didn’t ven­ture far from the group. But, “mes­mer­ized by all the life and cul­ture,” Palko said he vowed he would re­turn with his own mu­sic as soon as he was old enough.

He be­gan putting out one al­bum per year start­ing in 2009, and each year tries to re­turn to as many coun­tries as pos­si­ble, plus a few more.

Palko’s lat­est al­bum, Madi­son Drive, is named after his “fa­vorite neigh­bor­hood in Ne­wark.” Known as one of Ne­wark’s rougher ar­eas, Madi­son Drive is where Palko chose to live for four years.

“I think Madi­son gets a bad rap in the Ne­wark area, but I ab­so­lutely love that place,” Palko said. “There’s so many dif­fer­ent kinds of peo­ple liv­ing there, and we had so much fun get­ting to know peo­ple.”

He didn’t in­tend to write a Madi­son Drive al­bum, but when it came time to record new work, he re­al­ized he had 30-plus songs in­spired by the place. The al­bum was recorded in his Madi­son Drive home on an eight-track tape ma­chine.

The al­bum’s “Star­ing Out The Win­dow” – a rhyth­mic, melan­choly tune fea­tur- ing gui­tar, bass and drums – brings Palko’s worlds to­gether. The mu­sic video for the Madi­son Drive song was filmed dur­ing a re­cent trip to Uganda.

His trav­els will con­tinue lat- er this year with mu­sic projects in Tan­za­nia and Uganda.

“There’s not re­ally much I need. I have my gui­tar and I can throw some shirts in the gui­tar case,” Palko said. “It’s a pretty sim­ple life.”


Folk mu­si­cian Shane Palko per­forms in the Ne­wark area when he is not trav­el­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally.

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