Born in 1950 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Walter Hyatt was a songwriter and guitarist whose music could not be corralled into any one pen. This was always an aspect of his musical life, dating from his early listening as a child — digging into R&B and rock & roll, the latter style transforming into a maelstrom of styles all in itself in the '60s. Scholars on the subject of what makes for a good career tend to agree that Hyatt was just too eclectic to make a mark on the roots rock audience at large.
Hyatt projects had a huge influence on other musicians, and on a regional level the wonderful music of Uncle Walt's Band, with Champ Hood and David Ball, was a favorite of many a college music lover, in the days before the under-21 crowd were locked out of the honky tonks.
Although claimed as an Austin phenomenon, Uncle Walt's Band actually formed in Spartanburg, while they were still in high school. The band bounced worked between Nashville and Austin. The band appeared on Austin City Limits in 1980 (Walter appeared again as a solo artist in the 1990's) Uncle Walt called it quits to pursue solo careers in 1983.
Lyle Lovett was a fan of Uncle Walt's Band and in 1993, Lyle reach out to Hyatt and offered him opening-act slots for his tour. This was the same year Walter signed to do Alleyfest and rather than cancel, he flew in on a Sunday to appear on our stage.
Three years later Walter met an early and tragic death, however, in the crash of ValuJet flight 592 into the Florida Everglades swamp in 1996.
After Uncle Walt's Band broke up, Champ Hood had a new partnership with Austin's Jimmie Dale Gilmore and followed by some nine years working with songstress Toni Price (another Alleyfest Alumni). Lyle Lovett hired Hood for his own Large Band. The Threadgill's Troubadours was Hood's pet project in the '90s—finally, his own band after so many years as a collaborator and sideman. His son Warren Hood took up the fiddle and was himself performing on Austin City Limits in the latter part of that decade. Sadly like Walter, Champ died while still in his forties, sucumming to cancer at an early age.