Growing up with older siblings, Michael Walker said somebody in his house was always playing music.
His mother had a love for country music while his brothers introduced him to rock ’n’ roll at a young age.
“I pretty much cut the grass with the guitar strapped on,” he said. “It was like, I didn’t put the guitar down. It was an extension of me. I was always just one of those people that when I grabbed on to something I became fixated. I would leave school and get excited to go home and play the guitar. I would get butterflies just thinking about it.”
With his father passing away when he was a child and his mother unexpectedly passing away when he was 18 years old, Walker said music truly saved his life.
“My life could have gone down a lot of different paths with not having my dad around and my mom doing the best she could,” he said. “My mom loved the fact that she always knew where I was. We built a little studio in our basement. It was my safe haven. I don’t know where I would be without music.”
MUSIC TO HIS EARS
After his mother passed away, Walker said he was advised by many he wouldn’t be able to make a career out of his passion for music.
His older brothers worked in the construction business and set him up with a job directing traffic.
Walker said the job was the best thing that could have happened for him at the time.
“For three months while I was turning that slow and stop sign, all I could think was that this wasn’t me and I needed to make this music thing work,” he said. “However I needed to do it, I needed to do it.”
Now, Walker, 53, has more than 25 years of experience as a multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, songwriter and instructor.
His musical inspirations have changed throughout the years, but he said he has admired artists such as Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden.
As a sought-after studio musician, Walker has recorded well over a thousand guitar tracks in various styles of music, including pop, metal, funk, reggae, blues, country, Americana, Bollywood and classical.
He has production credit on more than 100 songs on digital streaming platformsmand more than a million hits on YouTube and has music credits for television and ﬁlm on HBO.
After a long career as a performance and studio musician and guitar instructor, Walker segued into artist development and production and now works with some of Central Florida’s most promising talent.
DEVELOPING A TUNE
Walker and his wife, Caroline, own Dreamwalker Music Evolution, artist development services and recording studio in Gotha.
Although the Walkers have had DME for almost 30 years, the company started as Dreamwalker Music, a boutique company that would travel to people’s homes and give them instruction, in 1994.
Mike Walker said he started teaching music when he was only 15 or 16 years old.
“It was something that I had a natural knack for,” he said. “I have a lot of really talented musician friends who just hate teaching and always ask me how I do it. It’s nice because a lot of these people that I’ve worked with have gone on to do some pretty cool things. So, in a way, you’re living on in their music. … There are so many incredible people we have had the chance to meet and so many amazing relationships that we have formed.”
As the business grew, it became harder to maintain traveling across the Central Florida area.
Caroline Walker started to get more involved in the business in 2016.
Mike Walker said his wife brought a lot of fresh new ideas to the table and started managing the artists he worked with.
“That’s when it truly became an artist development company,” he said. “We were able to take it one step further than just typical lessons. It started becoming this wrap-around approach.”
“It sort of was an unintentional funnel we created because a lot of the clients we worked with were young kids and they would want to learn how to play the guitar so they would come in and they would learn and then they would want to have some vocal coaching, performance coaching, and then it would turn into them wanting to release music and asking how they could do that,” Caroline Walker said. “Then there was the question of how they could get their music out there and how they managed their social media or other types of music business questions. We needed to address that as well so we became more educated on the music business side of things because that’s what our clients needed and wanted.
“It just organically grew into this program where people could come in and get all of these different things to set them up really well with a good foundation for either becoming an independent artist or somebody who might want to get signed by a label,” he said.
Since DME started, Mike Walker said he has worked with 500 to 1,000 artists.
Many of Mike Walker’s clients have achieved signiﬁcant success, including Taylor Buono, who was signed to RCA Records; Jared Hara, formerly of the band Symmetry; Greg Carrillo, former guitarist for Brett Eldridge Band; and Noah Schnacky, rising country music artist.
The Walkers have also worked with well-known local talents Jordan Mohr, a young country and pop artist, and Francesca Tarantino, a young developing rock ’n’ roll artist.
Although being a team of only two can be overwhelming when wearing multiple hats, the Walkers said the relationships they develop with their clients are special.
“Because we get a lot of young people, we have the opportunity to watch a lot of these kids grow up and transform,” Caroline Walker said. “As they perfect their craft, it just continues to inspire why we do what we do. Many of them become part of our family.”
HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE
Now, the Walkers are embarking on a new chapter in their journey: Legacy Mode.
Although they started songwriting as a way to spend more time together, their co-writing sessions grew into a more serious endeavor over time.
“We started creating these songs together, and at first we were funneling them to the artists that we were working with…mostly writing for the young female artists we had,” Mike Walker said. “Then we started pitching to publishers to pitch to the next level artist. … We started writing for other genres like male country artists to expand on what we were doing. … We really enjoyed it but were having a hard time finding male country singers who wanted to do studio work. We kept getting cancellations or somebody wouldn’t spend time on the song.”
The final straw was when the Walkers wrote a song called “Tumbleweeds” as a pitch last fall.
The scheduled artist canceled at the last minute, and Mike Walker decided to take matters into his own hands.
“I was so frustrated and I walked into the booth and just started sing-ing it,” he said. “I can sing, but it’s not really something I usually do because I’ve been working with everyone else for so long.”
Caroline Walker said she was in shock, but the outcome was amazing and she encouraged her husband to start singing the songs they wrote together more often.
“Because we write these songs together, I think it means so much to us; they’re like our children in a way,” Mike Walker said. “We’re really invested in these songs. I feel like I just pour every ounce into it. This is becoming our passion now. We’re enjoying spending this time together and we just vibe off the whole process.”
Mike Walker now has nine songs officially out with two more ready to release.
The songs fall into mostly the country genre with twinges of rock, blues and soul.
Although the Walkers said they are always looking for new talent to develop, because of their new endeavor they will be more selective of their mentorships due to their blossoming passion.
“If we don’t do it now, we’re never going to do it,” Mike Walker said. “We are really enjoying this, and we need to carve out more time to be able to devote ourselves to doing it the right way. DME will have to shrink a little so we can focus on our own artistry.”
For now, the Walkers said they are going to continue to write, release and have fun.
Those who want to support Michael Allen Walker can share his music on social media, support local musicians, go see live performances and invest in the local community of artists.