Ramblin' clan 

Phil Walden rose to the top of the music world with Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers. He's fallen and rebounded a couple of times since. With the demise of Capricorn Records and the birth of Velocette, his family's music empire attempts to rise again

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Philip Jr. isn't putting all his chips in Velocette's basket either. With law partner Leon Jones and a legal assistant setting up shop in a spare office at the label, Philip has started his own law firm.

Jason Walden grew up in Macon with his mom and his brother, somewhat splintered from the clan after his parents divorced and his father, Blue, died in 1977. After high school, Jason made his way to Athens, a self-described "frustrated musician" who never joined a band and who worked as a bus boy and in landscaping. While it probably didn't prepare him for life as a Capricorn executive, his admittedly slack existence may have been an ideal place to develop the musical sensibilities he brings to Velocette.

Now 31, he's probably the most musically informed, and musically obsessed, of the younger Waldens, though he didn't come to work for the company until two years ago. "I wanted to be asked to be involved," he says. "I didn't like the nepotistic line of it. I wanted it to be on my merit."

As a former director of A&R at Capricorn, and now as Velocette's head of A&R, Jason is responsible for signing three of the four bands on the current roster: Jucifer, The Glands and Beulah. "There's not so much a direction, as just, you know, bands that I really dug," he says of his signings. "Bands that had a lot of integrity, and a certain marketability. I just think that they're three kick-ass bands."

At a time when prefab pop, hip-hop and rap-metal rule the charts, arranging a label around a group of bands because they're "kick ass" may sound like a dubious marketing strategy. But with Jason's good taste and enthusiasm -- and with his last name -- you just never know.

"I would never count them out," says Adam Raspler, 311's manager. "They've done it before, they can do it again. I think that's the Walden way."

And if Phil Walden's latest new beginning doesn't rise to the level of previous heights, at least it managed to keep a family close together for a little while longer.

"I'm just very grateful that Phil met Otis Redding," Jason says, in his spare, desk-free office at Velocette.

"We just know we have a great thing, and it's in our blood. The sense of camaraderie, the fact that we're family and we have this common goal. We know we have this special thing. It's like the Mafia say, 'This thing we have.' That's almost what we the Waldens have. We have the common bond, that music works for us. And that's a big factor in the closeness. We feel like we're special."

RONI.SARIG@CREATIVELOAFING.COM

 

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