Channahon teen musician seeing dreams come true
By Kris Stadalsky For The Herald-News October 19, 2012 1:58PM
Dustin Walker of Channahon (left) is shown with record producer Jeff Silverman, owner of Palette Studios in Nashville, Tenn., where they worked on Walker’s two-song CD release. | Supplied photo
Updated: November 22, 2012 6:14AM
Just 14 at the time, Dustin Walker of Channahon stood on stage in front of 20,000-plus people at the Taste of Joliet in 2010 and rocked out to the song “Victoria’s Secret” with 1980s music legend Rick Springfield.
Walker sang vocals and played lead guitar alongside the man he calls his idol.
That taped performance is one of several scenes Walker is in with the Grammy Award-winning singer in Springfield’s just released movie, “An Affair of the Heart.”
“I thought,’ oh my gosh, this kid is great.’ He looks like a professional,” said movie director Sylvia Caminer of Yellow Rick Road Productions and Dolger Films, about the first day of shooting.
Walker appears throughout the movie, and Caminer could see the joy just oozing from him during his performance and scenes, she said.
“Dustin is a wonderful musician. I think Rick sees that,” she said.
Walker has had a guitar in his hand from the time he was 2 and began playing by the age of 4. He has loved the music of Rick Springfield since he was a toddler, becoming a big fan like his own father, Jeff Walker.
The younger Walker got to meet Springfield at Naperville Ribfest when he was 3. He rode atop his grandfather’s shoulders at a concert, holding tight to a small, plastic guitar.
He was spotted by the band’s road manager and invited on stage — something Springfield frequently does with fans at his concerts.
Walker has joined Springfield on stage many times since that first meeting, and the two have formed a close friendship that Walker holds dear.
“Being in a movie with my hero, my idol, is unbelievable,” Walker said from his Channahon home recently.
In the movie, Springfield says his own life has become about the joy of connecting to people like Walker.
“I am honored to be a part of someone’s life like that,” he says. “If I could be that person all the time, I would probably be a lot happier.”
“Affair of the Heart” is a rock documentary and features seven of the star’s biggest fans and how his music has changed their lives.
“We wanted to put a light on the healing power of music,” said the movie’s Co-producer, Melanie Lentz-Janney, of Doverwood Communications and Yellow Rick Road Productions. “I’m so glad we have something that shows who Rick really is and what fans love about him. There hasn’t been anything like this made before.”
Walker made appearances with other cast members at several film festivals showing “Affair of the Heart” over the last several months, including Florida and most recently Milwaukee.
When the premiere was presented in September 2011, Walker strolled down the red carpet with Springfield, other cast members, the director and producers. He was later interviewed by MTV’s Martha Quinn.
“There was news stations everywhere; lights (flashed) everywhere,” he said. “I just didn’t know where to look. It was awesome.”
Lentz-Janney said Walker is a natural onstage. “He’s fearless,” she said. “He got on the stage and he rocked. I can’t wait to see where he goes.”
Through his friendship with Springfield, Walker has made many connections in the music world, including Springfield’s record producer, Jeff Silverman. Silverman, owner of Palette Studios in Nashville, helped him re-work two original songs, resulting in Walker’s two-song CD release “Body Bag.”
Springfield is more than just the driving force behind Walker’s own music.
“I write (music) like him, I play just like him. When I get on stage I channel him,” he said. “I love him, he’s a great guy. He has never let me down.”
Walker wants to become a musician like Springfield, touring the world and playing shows every week.
He’s been in two local bands as lead guitarist and is currently working on acoustical music and vocals with his best friend, Nate Smith of Joliet.
If he’s not on the road by the time he graduates high school next year, Walker intends to go to college and study sound engineering.
“I would be happy being a sound engineer for a band. I love the whole atmosphere of that,” he said. “I love being around music.”
Lentz-Janney sees great things in Walker’s future.
“I think Dustin is destined for major success,” she said, “and a great future in the music business.”