G. Walker Evans is a commercial banker and a drummer. He’s also a bit of a philosopher who looks for the patterns in work, music, and life.
Life started in North Vancouver when it was fairly rural — building forts and finding crawdads in Lynn Canyon and Capilano Park and mountains, trees that went on forever in the back yard and access to water — but still just over a bridge from the nearby music scene of Vancouver’s clubs. Playing the drums since he was six, Evans turned professional at 14; his parents loaded his drum set into the car and took him to play at jazz clubs and coffee houses around Pioneer Square.
After high school, Evans attended Western Washington University, and then the University of Washington. He went from focusing on studying music to playing music and studying in the business sector. Married at 20, he’d had to think of the bigger picture. Evans thought through what he wanted to do long term, asked lots of questions, and was introspective.
“Everything is a metaphor for everything else,” Evans says. He made a list of 28 things important to him. The paycheck was the last item on the list.
“One of the things on ‘my list’ is a lifestyle/work that varies the environment I’m in,” he says. To back that up, Evan shows a picture of himself in work attire at the beach.
“So, about metaphors,” he continues. “Music is 12 tones in the Western tradition. Plus volume, plus time — units of which define rhythm. Plus timbre. Plus lyrics. That’s 16 variables. With it, we create everything from Gregorian chants to rock and roll to Latin to Beethoven’s 9th, to blues, to jazz. Everything.”
Meanwhile, Evans points out, a business is comprised of operations, finance, and marketing. “You can’t make a decision in one without it affecting the others.”
His LinkedIn page shows the banking side, with his current title of executive vice president and chief lending officer at Bank of the Pacific; the position he’s held since September 2004. Through approximately eight bank moves, Evans worked around many with the same banking ideology and a shared history.
A Google search serves up the bands he’s been affiliated with recently, such as Average Mammals, Lost at Last, and the Vandinska Band. He doesn’t know how many bands he’s played with over the years, but guesses around 50.
These days the music is a mix of Keith Urban, Dave Matthews, and Jack Johnson. As a drummer, Evans reacts to those playing around him. Drummers have a chart guide but determine whether, he said, to echo or complement when others solo. He sees those elements working together in banking, and even in sports, as well.
In banking, he is close to what matters to people. “This is peoples’ lives…you typically are funding someone’s passion. It’s not just banking. You see moments of defeat, triumph, divorce, substance abuse…you care about people and banking is the vehicle,” Evans says. “That’s why I do what I do.”
There were moments early on in his career where Evans noted how poorly many people fit into their work lives. “I hated the Dilbert cartoons,” he says. “Yes, they are funny, but they are too true. Everyone staring at the clock and waiting for Friday, [thinking] ‘Get me out of here.’”
Evans wanted a life where, when five o’clock hit, he might choose to stay at work because it was fun.
“I decided I loved playing [music] best,” he says of making decisions. “The worst and best things have happened when I’ve been a musician.”
The world of music has exploded with the introduction of digital technology easily accessible at home and with the introduction of 60,000 new tracks daily through Spotify. This is great for those wanting free music, but not so great for those who earn a living as a musician.
In 1977, back in his high school era, Evans would get paid $200 to $400 in cash for a gig. Decades later that pay is around $100 for a show around Bellingham, which is geared for duos and trios and less for full bands. He’s watched other musicians piece together incomes from gigs, waiting tables, and teaching, just to get by. Nope. Not for him.
Life brought responsibility and three now-grown children — John, Schyler, and Meryl — and also the chance to ski, backpack, and kayak with them. Evans tries new things, but music is always there.
“I have four drum sets in my life,” he says. They include a Gretsch, DW, and two Roland electronic sets. He has the ability to practice and play wherever he is — and in an apartment setting uses headphones, which is easier on the neighbors. He also has the option of another, more mobile percussion instrument: a Djembe, from West Africa.
Due to his current banking role, Evans operates within a region that takes him between branch offices in Bellingham, Olympia, Portland, and Eugene. Since he’s already traveling, he incorporates his music into that schedule and also when traveling for fun.
Days are rarely the same, yet also have a pattern. Evans loves projects with beginnings and ends. Within a typical day, he practices, works out, reads, writes, and works. He performs about two or three times a week in late afternoons, evenings, or weekends. If he starts later, around 8 or 9 p.m., he’ll be done around midnight or 1 a.m. During the drive home, he incorporates work by using voice communication. The time is never wasted.