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Sequim graduate/guitarist celebrates 'Stepping Stones'

Singer and songwriter Robbie Walden doesn't live in Sequim anymore but he still considers the small town on the North Olympic Peninsula home.

March 27-28, the 2000 Sequim High School graduate will return home from Tacoma for performances at the Oasis Sports Bar & Grill in Sequim and Castaways in Port Angeles. Walden, 27, is promoting his latest CD "Stepping Stones," an early release album with five songs. The full-length, 13-track album will be available sometime after the first of the year.

Last June, Walden paired up with friend and fellow musician Henry Smith to form "Smith & Walden."

"Things really took off then. That was the missing ingredient," Walden said. "I treat my music like a business and that is one of the reasons I switched to a duet - it's more marketable."

The twosome sold more than 200 albums at three gigs only two weeks after releasing "Stepping Stones."

A high school English teacher by day and guitar player by night, Smith is just starting to sing at performances and make Smith & Walden a true duet band.

"Stepping Stones" is very different from his first CD, "Head Over Heels," from five years ago, according to Walden. "It's a huge difference. This one blows 'Head Over Heels' out of the water."

"Stepping Stones," Walden said, is more radio-friendly and less poetic.

Walden writes all his own songs. "Being a songwriter is like being a storyteller. Not everything is something I've lived, it's putting myself in others' shoes," he said, pointing out that movie director Quintin Tarentino probably didn't live all the scenes he portrays on the big screen. "I like using my imagination to write a song that people can relate to."

Two songs on the album, however, are personal to Walden.

"Stepping Stones To You" was written for Walden's wife.

"I've had some good times, and I've had some bad. I've made decisions I wish I never had," the lyrics of the love song read. "I have regrets, yet all them I'd still do. 'Cause all my heartaches were stepping stones to you."

"Take Me Home" was written in honor of a fellow soldier, Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, who died in Iraq, leaving behind a wife and 11-month-old daughter. Williams only spent five weeks with his daughter before he died.

Walden fought for the U.S. Army in Iraq as a reconn sniper in the Stryker Brigade. He was medically evacuated and honorably discharged after being wounded in combat.

"I never felt inclined to write songs about our time over there until he was killed," Walden said about Williams. "That was a story that needed to be told."

"Take Me Home" isn't pro-war or anti-war, Walden assured, it's simply patriotic.

"Stepping Stones" is available for sale at www.cdbaby.com. A portion of proceeds is being donated to a college fund for Williams' daughter.

With stars in their eyes, Walden and Smith tentatively are planning to relocate to Austin, Texas, or Nashville, Tenn., next year.

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