Walser tastes like vintage wine
Jack's Sugar Shack, Hollywood, Cal., Nov. 11, 1999
HOLLYWOOD, CA - After news came through the grapevine about a fall Don Walser took while visiting Nashville recently, it was surprising that this master of traditional country music still had the determination to make it to this gig at all. But while a fractured rib and two black eyes might deter some lightweights, these ailments could not stop the locomotive-like will of this performer.
Although his muscles and bones might have been sore, this night gave clear evidence that his vocal cords were left perfectly intact. As he moved swiftly through his long set, Walser punctuated many of the songs in his traditional repertoire with on-target yodels and boisterous singing.
While Walser drew liberally from his most recent Sire release, "Here's to Country Music," he also found plenty of time for requests from the audience, as well doin a few songs appropriate for this Veterans Day concert, including a spot-on take on "Fraulein."
Although his back-up band of local heavyweight session players (including drummer Don Herrington and fiddler Brandley Kearns) did a fine job of keeping up with Walser, it was still good fun to see this elder taking the time to review key changes and tempos before launching into many of these songs.
Walser and band covered almost the whole gamut of tempo possibilities - from the swinging "Tennessee Saturday Night," to the half-spoken "Here's to Country Music."
Much like the title track to Walser's newest release, his concerts can be thought of as long and variety-packed tributes to the great country music he grew up on in his home state of Texas.
But calling Walser merely the raiser of toast would be highlighting only a small fraction of his great worth. No, my friend, Walser is not only one who salutes; he's also the vintage wine.