Uncle Walt's Band
Uncle Walt's Band was an Americana band founded in Spartanburg, South Carolina by Walter Hyatt, Champ Hood, and David Ball. They were among the most popular acoustic bands in Austin, Texas during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and were particularly noted for their intricate 3-part vocal harmonies as well as a sound that combined traditional country motifs with jazz, bluegrass, and Beatles-esque influences.
Shortly after forming, Uncle Walt's band moved from Spartanburg, South Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1972, where they caught the attention of Texas singer-songwriter Willis Alan Ramsey, who would become the band's first noted fan. It was in 1972 that, with Ramsey's encouragement, the band first visited Texas where they would eventually reside.
The band returned to the Carolinas in 1974, recording Blame It on the Bossanova, their first record, at Charlotte, North Carolina's Arthur Smith Studios. It, and a similar release titled simply Uncle Walt's Band, were released on Hyatt's Lespedeza Records label.
In 1978, Uncle Walt's Band played a reunion gig in Austin, Texas, and the success that followed kept the band together in subsequent years. They played regularly in and around Austin until 1983, when they broke up after David Ball returned to Nashville to pursue his solo music career. During this period in Austin the band enjoyed considerable popularity and was a major influence on other artists including Lyle Lovett, Marcia Ball, Toni Price, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Lucinda Williams. During this time Uncle Walt's Band released two more albums on the local Lespedeza label, 1980's An American in Texas and 1982's Uncle Walt's Band Recorded Live, which was recorded at the Waterloo Ice House in Austin.
Hood and Hyatt both remained in Austin following Ball's departure. Hyatt moved to Nashville in the late 1980's but remained a frequent presence in the Austin music scene until his death on May 11, 1996 in the crash of ValuJet Flight 592. Hood lived and performed in Austin until his death from cancer on November 3, 2001.
Many Austin musicians continue to play songs written by members of Uncle Walt's Band. Hood's son Warren continues to reside in Austin and is a highly accomplished musician, including being a 7-time recipient of Best String Player at the Austin Music Awards. Much of his repertoire draws upon the music of Uncle Walt's Band. Warren's cousin Marshall Hood moved to Austin from Spartanburg as a cofounder of The Belleville Outfit, another young band strongly influenced by Uncle Walt's Band which was active from 2007-2011.
In 2007, during South by Southwest, the Austin Music Awards put together a tribute to Uncle Walt's Band, featuring Lyle Lovett and David Ball along with Warren and Marshall Hood. More recently, Warren and Marshall have reunited with Ball for a series of performances in tribute to Uncle Walt's Band under the name That Carolina Sound.
While Uncle Walt's Band's reputation and influence were strongest in the Southern U.S., particularly Austin and Spartanburg, the band also gained dedicated followings elsewhere including the University of California, Berkeley and Moscow University in Russia.
- Blame It On The Bossanova /Uncle Walt's Band * (1974)
- An American in Texas (1978)
- 6-26-79 (1979)
- Live at the Waterloo Ice House (1982), Cassette & CD release
A release of an Uncle Walt's Band Anthology album, including previously unreleased material, was released on March 9 2018 on the Omnivore Records label.
- "Uncle Walt's Band Showcase". Local Music Scene South Carolina.