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March / April 1999

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    by Donna Eckberg

    Country singer, Don Walser, has the stuff that legends are made of. I first heard about him while dancing at the Broken Spoke, Austin, Texas’ oldest dance hall. Fellow dancers said, "you must hear him." A year later, word came back from the Folk Alliance in Memphis, "you must see him." Now after months of negotiation, the Don Walser Trio will be at the St. Louis Brewery and Taproom on Thursday, March 4. He’s coming to us!

    There has been some national recognition of the big man with the big voice, including a performance in the film, High Low Country, and an appearance on the soundtrack of The Horse Whisperer. Walser grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry and singing the songs of cowboy film stars. As a result his style is a mix of traditional country, honky tonk, swing and pop, sung with incredible emotion and power. He refers to his selection of covers and originals as "The Top 40, that’s forty years old." His vocal abilities have earned him the moniker, "Pavarotti of the Plains." To hear him yodel in his tenor range will send chills up and down your spine.

    The intrigue here is the breadth of Walser’s appeal, breaking both cultural and sound barriers with his music. I first heard about Walser in a traditional Texas country dance hall, but his name has also appeared in No Depression, an alternative country music publication. He has shared concert bills with both Buddy Holly and punk rockers such as the Butthole Surfers. His latest CD, Down At The Sky-Vue Drive-In, exhibits a versatile range of music styles. Songs penned by Charles Louvin, Jimmie Rodgers (including some stellar yodeling), Johnny Bush, Irving Berlin and Oscar Hammerstein are mixed in with his own compositions. Throughout these recordings he swings, rocks and croons western style.

    Grab your hat and boots (yeah, could be some dancing) and head down to the St. Louis Brewery and Taproom, Locust and 21st streets, at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 4. Thanks to Focal Point you’ll get to hear him live and in person. See their listing on page 14 for more details.