Mighty Fine: An Austin City Limits Tribute To Walter Hyatt
For the uninitiated, the late South Carolina singer Walter Hyatt was part of a popular Austin, TX band with David Ball, & Champ Hood. Once the band folded Lyle Lovett produced Walter’s major label 1990 debut “King Tears.” Then, Walter sadly passed tragically in a 1996 plane crash.
Hyatt’s been credited as an artist responsible for “creating” what has become Americana Music. Walter never locked into any one musical genre; his music indeed had value through his contributions. This collection with notable artists pays musical homage to Mr. Hyatt.
Walter was as innovative to a genre of music as Gram Parsons was in shaping a country hybrid from rock. Along with milestone artists such as Towns van Zandt & Guy Clark. Nonetheless, the individual songs performed live in 1997 are finally available on Mighty Fine: An Austin City Limits Tribute To Walter Hyatt (Drops Oct 1–Omnivore Recordings).
This, a fine example of what I point out consistently to new artists. This is songwriting craft, the subjects Hyatt chose to sing about, the lyrical pacing, originality & versatility. Stellar. From the opener “As the Crow Flies,” by Willis Alan Ramsey (in a rare appearance), “Houston Town,” with Dave Ball, the impeccable “Georgia Rose,” by Jimmie Dale Gilmore & the urgent Marcia Ball letting loose on “Are We There Yet Momma,” with sparks from Jim Hoke’s sax. All vital — deserving of Hyatt’s pen.
Among artists featured is David Halley, Allison Moorer, Junior Brown, Lyle Lovett with Shawn Colvin, Champ Hood (guitar/fiddle) who performs a beautiful “Going To New Orleans.” There are also 4 unreleased Hyatt songs.
25 years later the pristine live performances are set free. It would’ve been a shame for this to gather dust in a vault. 6 tracks on this LP from 12-17 were not shown on the original Austin City Limits. 21-cuts with a stitched insert. A masterful recording.
Many pleasantries abound: “Diggeroo,” in rockabilly style performed by the brilliant incendiary guitarist Junior Brown.
Musicians: Rick Plant, (bass/guitar), Brad Fordham, Victor Krauss (bass), Billy Block (drums), James Gilmer (percussion), Rick Gordon (lead guitar), Jim Hoke (sax/autoharp/harmonica), John Simon (piano), Rob Gjersoe (guitar), John Hager, Austin Hoke (cello), Chris Carmichael (string arrangement), Jerry Douglas (dobro), Steve Herman (trumpet), Byron House (acoustic bass), Dianne Killen (harmony vocals), Tom Roady (percussion; played drums with The Wilkinson’s in 1998), & Kristen Weber (violin/viola).
B&W images courtesy of Omnivore. Uncle Walt’s Band: L to R: Hood, Hyatt & Ball. 1990 Hyatt sepia image: Scott Newton/ACL
Original producers: Terry Lickona, Michael Killen & Jim Hoke. Track compilation produced: Mark Michel & Cheryl Pawelski. Walter’s wife Heidi Hyatt, executive producer King Tears Music. Walter Hyatt: https://walterhyatt.com/wp/
The 71-minute CD @ https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/mighty-fine/