Revisit or Discover Uncle Walt’s Band
If you’ve known me at all in the past decade, you’ll know that the music Walter Hyatt, Champ Hood, and David Ball did as Uncle Walt’s Band is among my very favorite. And if you and I have ever really ‘talked music,’ at some point I’ve probably tried to tell you why you should give this stuff a listen.
They took their name from the Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band” and this is probably one of the best articles I’ve stumbled upon if you want a sense of the band and their history. It was published in February 2008 in the Austin Chronicle.
Everything about their songs – the music, the lyrics, the harmonies – is the stuff of magic that only comes about when it’s really meant to be, the sort that just happens and can’t be contrived… that Uncle Walt’s Band sound and style are both so distinct and just so darned good.
“Uncle Walt’s Band created a new form of progressive Texas folk music, blending country and acoustic music with jazz and swing to create a style all their own,” from shsscar.
Here’s a clip of Walter Hyatt and Champ Hood doing a song Walter Hyatt wrote and released solo. A clever song with a smokin’ solo by Champ Hood. Also captured are the smiles and looks in their eyes to the crowd and to each other as they play… I think it’s a really special clip.
This is a recent clip of David Ball doing one of his Uncle Walt’s Band songs. I’ve always thought that this was such a gorgeous song.
I first came upon the music of Uncle Walt’s Band in 2001 or 2002. My friend from Arkansas, Warren Dietzel had been given a bootleg copy of a show of theirs by his friend, Yassi. I met them both back when I was tending the little bar in North Beach in San Francisco. Warren and I used to talk about music whenever I was working and he once gave me two Uncle Walt’s Band CDs, telling me that he knew I’d love the stuff. I’m not one to listen to stuff people give me right away especially when it’s been prefaced with, “I just know you’re gonna love this” so those cds sat for a couple of months until one day I noticed them again and asked myself, how could a girl from the island of Guam not want to give a CD entitled “The Girl on the Sunny Shore” at least one listen?
And oh my… one listen was all it took and it was like a spell had been cast over me.
Since then, I still can’t get any of those songs out of my head and out of rotation. I can safely say that I listened to something by Uncle Walt’s Band or that they’d each done solo for years and years since that very first time.
But what was tough was that, at that time, it was so hard for me to gather any more info online about who Uncle Walt’s Band was. At that time, all you could really find on the internet were snippets about the music and the men behind it. I’m so happy that it’s quite different today… in fact, the music is being kept alive in many ways.
Here’s a clip with Warren Hood and Marshall Hood, Champ Hood’s son and nephew doing their version of an Uncle Walt’s tune, “Someday” though I also read somewhere that it’s called “Getaway.” Either way, it’s a great song. This clip was taken at Threadgill’s South in Austin, TX in September 2010 by 2020memory who’s got a great YouTube channel – covering some really good stuff on the Texas music scene.
What I love about this clip is how Warren Hood credits and thanks Daren Appelt for keeping the music alive with his audio recordings of the band through the years. Warren Hood goes on to say, “I always encourage bootleg recordings from the audience and YouTube and just give them to people cause it’s the only way this music’s gonna last.” And this music is the sort that should be kept alive and passed on over and over again.
On January 22, 2011, there was a fundraiser in Spartanburg, South Carolina for the Spartanburg Music Trail honoring inductees, Walter Hyatt and Champ Hood. Warren Hood along with Marshall Hood, Rob Teter, and Nigel Frye from The Belleville Outfit performed again as ‘Uncle Walt’s Band Revisited‘ for the first time outside of Texas.
Below is a playlist of all 27 videos of the guys performing Uncle Walt’s Band songs captured by the YouTube user shsscar who also happens to be Champ Hood’s brother and Marshall Hood’s Dad, Robin Deschamps Hood. So, so nice to be able to watch all these videos sequentially and uninterrupted… you almost feel like you were there at the show.
Sure hope these guys can make a San Francisco Bay Area performance one of these days.
You’ve got to give thanks to these musicians out there like Warren Hood with the Hoodlums, the Goods, or the Waybacks; and the Belleville Outfit; and to slightly lesser knowns like my old friend, Warren Dietzel and his buddy Teddy Sablon as The Phosphenes for keeping the music alive and well in their necks of the woods with their live performances of these songs.
Here’s one of Warren and Teddy doing a cover of “Volcano” – a Champ Hood song he did with The Contenders, another band he and Walter Hyatt were in with Steve Runkle, Timmy Goldsmith, and Jimbeau Walsh… and another CD that I sure got my money’s worth playing over and over and over again.
In November of 2010, Walter Hyatt’s wife, Heidi decided to make available previously unreleased collections of Uncle Walt’s Band on CD. These songs on these CDs were transferred from the original LP masters in their original sequence including the rare studio collection, “6-26-79.” I’ve since come to understand that one of the two CDs that was first given to me, “The Girl on the Sunny Shore” released by Sugar Hill Records, was actually a compilation of two of these Uncle Walt’s Band albums, “Uncle Walt’s Band” and the release, “6-26-79.”
So revisit or discover some Uncle Walt’s Band for yourself. The CDs below are available now at King Tears Music.
And a very special thanks to Heidi Hyatt for deciding to release them to us all.