Walking Papers highlights one of the great strengths of the Seattle music scene: its incestuous, collaborative nature. Since so many musicians play in so many projects, there are moments when it seems as if every Seattle band is a supergroup, whether you’re talking about players who gained attention during the city’s ’90s heyday or today’s crop of neo-folkies. Pick nearly any successful Seattle rock band of today, and you can connect the dots to a cadre of others. Through Walking Papers you can chart a course to bands from Jet City and beyond: Guns N’ Roses, Fastbacks, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, Mad Season, and more. The band—singer/guitarist Jeff Angell, bassist Duff McKagan, drummer Barrett Martin, and keyboardist Benjamin Anderson—have at least 100 years of band experience among them. Factor in Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, who plays on Walking Papers’ self-titled debut, and you’re looking at one of the most experienced bands in rock, in this city or any other.
McKagan, currently on hiatus from Loaded, describes the band’s sound as “dirty blues”—a kind of mid-tempo, groove-oriented hard rock that sounds great in strip joints. Some moments on their debut sound like the Black Crowes (“Leave Me in the Dark”), while others summon Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age (“Your Secret’s Safe With Me”), with Angell’s raspy, pained delivery giving the songs a soulful anchor—as if Procol Harum were really into Black Sabbath.
Fresh off a European tour with Alice in Chains and gearing up for a spot in Australia’s Soundwave Festival, Walking Papers is primed to deliver a top-notch New Year’s Eve performance. They’ll share the stage with another seasoned Seattle pro, Mark Pickerel (with His Praying Hands). Pickerel was the original drummer in Screaming Trees—who, coincidentally, was replaced by Walking Papers’ Martin (see: incestuous). Also on the bill are the Pink Slips, led by McKagan’s teenage daughter Grace, who played the CBGB Music and Film Festival earlier this year, where papa McKagan was the keynote speaker. Thursday, December 31. Highway 99, 1414 Alaskan Way, 382-2171, highwayninetynine.com. 7 p.m. $45.