How Uncle Walt’s Band failed to catch on nationally is a mystery that’ll never be solved.
But it could be rectified with a reimagined and expanded edition of its 1982 self-released album, Recorded Live, now spanning 21 cuts and retitled Recorded Live at Waterloo Ice House.
It finds Walter Hyatt, Champ Hood and David Ball playing their favorite Austin haunt and slaying the small but attentive audience with tracks from multiple performances. Singing with Everly precision (“Mock, Mock Mockingbird”) on a mix of jazz-infused, country, blues and bluegrass on two acoustic guitars and double bass – with occasional fiddle – the trio’s influence on Lyle Lovett’s subsequent career, and love for Seals & Crofts, is unmissable.
Originally from South Carolina, the band found its fame – if not fortune – in Texas where Lovett, Jerry Jeff Walker and Lady Bird Johnson were among Uncle Walt’s fans. The rest of the country never picked up on the band and by 1983, the trio dissolved; only Ball – and the music – survive.
It shouldn’t be a secret any longer.
While the songwriting occasionally lags behind the performance, Uncle Walt’s Band is can’t-miss when the two come together in swinging numbers like “If I Don’t Stop Crying” and their take on Fats Domino’s “Honest Papas Love their Mamas Better.” Anyone who doesn’t break a smile at these joyful sounds is already dead or hates music.
Beautiful ballads, a unique twist on “Stagger Lee” and a nod to Rick Springfield in the form of “Eddie’s Girl” – they thank him for the inspiration after the song – provide a well-rounded mix to this hour-plus retrospective of a specific time in a specific place.
“Most people sensed that they were in a very historical moment,” producer Fletcher Clark says of Walt’s Ice House days. “A lot of times, you look back and go, ‘Gosh, that was the best time.’ But people realized it then.”