Hoboken event will feature both the music and the paintings of Walter Salas-Humara

walter salas-humara interview



“The exercise of making things out of nothing is both addictive and expansive,” says Walter Salas-Humara, who is both the frontman of the roots-rock band The Silos, and a visual artist. “It’s a state of mind I have been in for so long, I don’t remember living any other way.”

He has been making things out of sounds, colors and his imagination for more than 40 years. “I paint most days and I write most days also,” he says.

Both modes of expression, he says, “are instinctual and visceral. The storytelling is deeper in the songs because there are words, but both are equally evocative emotionally.”

The Silos — founded in New York in 1985 by singer-songwriter and guitarist Salas-Humara, guitarist Bob Rupe and violinist Mary Rowell — will perform at the intimate Hoboken gallery/performance space 503 Social Club, May 11 (visit eventbrite.com). Salas-Humara will be joined by guitarist Rod Hohl and percussionist and bassist Konrad Meissner, who both also sing backing vocals.

503 Social Club will also showcase Salas-Humara’s hauntingly beautiful paintings beginning at 6 p.m., with the music starting at 8.

The Silos also will perform at The Loft at City Winery in New York, June 9 at 7:30 p.m. (visit citywinery.com/new-york-city). This will be a full band show, featuring keyboardist Bruce Martin and bassist Caitlin Oliver-Gans in addition to Salas-Humara, Hohl and Meissner.

‘Friends,” by Walter-Salas Humara.

Salas-Humara’s paintings are as emotionally riveting as his songs with passionate and wild colors, and captivating and surreal abstracts. His paintings of horses and elk are striking and seem sacred and his dog portraits are inventive with prominent, pensive eyes. His painting, “Friends,” seems like a timely response to today’s divided communities. In it, people are united, holding hands and raising them as one. (To learn more about his artwork, see the first video below).

He says on his website, “I look to art for a direct experience. I revel in the drag, the smear, the splash and flow of liquid color, in the physicality of the strokes. The shapes and hues assert themselves and interact with one another as if in conversation.”

The Silos were named the Best New Artist in a Rolling Stone critics’ poll in 1987, the same year that the group released its second album, Cuba. They appeared on “Late Night with David Letterman” in May 1990, playing “I’m Over You” from The Silos, their RCA label debut (see video below).

The innovative band has gone through several changes in lineups over the year with Salas-Humara remaining as its lead. Their 12th album, Family, came out in 2022.

“Blue Runner,” by Walter Salas-Humara.

In Hoboken, says Salas-Humara, “since it’s an acoustic show, we will focus on soft songs and ballads, but throw in a few rock numbers as well. We always play songs from all the albums, but will play many from Family.”

A Cuban-American whose family fled Havana when Castro came to power, Salas-Humara grew up in Florida, and has been playing music and painting since he was a youngster. After college in Florida, he refined his skills as a student at Pratt Institute in New York. His paintings were featured in the 2010 comedy film, “Get Him to the Greek.”

He recorded two albums with Alejandro Escovedo and Michael Hall as The Setters in the 1990s. In 2008, he recorded You Are All My People with novelist Jonathan Lethem as the band I’m Not Jim. Lethem referred to Salas-Humara as “a melodic genius, one of our greatest songwriters.”

Salas-Humara has released four solo albums, including 2014’s Curve and Shake. Watch the video below of its passionate and delicate title track.

“Blood Dancer,” by Walter Salas-Humara.

Listen to the soulful, rocking tune “Come in a Singer” from 2018’s Walterio below, where Salas-Humara sings about an artist’s need to leave behind a memorable legacy; this theme of how we will be remembered and what we have impacted resonates for the non-artist as well. He sings: “You’re never a legend, until you are gone. You come in a singer and leave a song.”

His gritty, gentle voice captures romantic pain in the beautiful song “The Sunshine and The Moon” from his 2016 album Explodes and Disappears (see video below).

Listen below to his blisteringly exuberant anthem, “El Camino de Oro,” from Walterio, about collaboration and community. “It’s a social consciousness song,” he said. “Not about anything specific, but a chant to bring the community together and collaborate on all things. As they say, all politics are local. Nothing ever happens in a vacuum and a united group is much stronger than any individual alone.”

Since opening in late 2023, The 503 Social Club has presented shows by artists such as Jill Sobule, Freedy Johnston, Richard Lloyd, Karyn Kuhl and Ivan Julian. Upcoming concerts include Speed the Plough with Brenda Sauter and Rich Barnes of Wild Carnation on June 2; and Jon Langford & the Bright Shiners on June 16.

For more about Salas-Humara and The Silos, visit waltersalashumara.com.

For information about 503 Social Club, visit the venue’s Facebook page.


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