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Don Walser yodels along

By Brian Wahlert, May 1996

Page 2...

Part of why he's having such a good time, too, is his band, in which he takes great pride. He's been gradually assembling his Pure Texas Band for over a decade now with the result that it now contains some of the best traditional country musicians in the business. "Mostly, I just played in the towns where I lived until I retired and got this great band."

Since then, he's toured all over the world, including Germany and New Zealand, as a representative of El Paso and Texas tourism. Although he still plays a lot of dates in Austin, he's also touring the rest of the country this year.

Walser doesn't really understand why his music is so exceptional. From the crowd response at his shows and the success of his albums, it's clear that there are a lot of people who enjoy his type of traditional country music, so why isn't anyone else doing it?"I don't think they know how to do it," he says. "They think the young people have to have a big beat on everything - well, they're wrong." As a result of this popular misconception, Walser has his own little niche in the country market.

Because he loves the old style of country music so much, Walser isn't too happy with the state of modern country. He says, "If you want to make money, you play top 40," but "if you try to stay current, you do about 90-percent trash, and 10 percent is good."

Walser says that today's music "is turned upside-down." He complains that the bass is up too high and that there's "no melody in the fiddle or the steel guitar." In the old music, though, "The bass is below the melody, and they actually do play the melody."

So what are his chances of ever getting played on the radio?"I know they're not going to do it," he says, recalling the two videos he's made that were spurned by TNN and CMT.

He has enjoyed quite a bit of success with college and public radio stations, however. In fact, "Texas Top Hand" has made the top five in Gavin's Americana chart, right up there with Merle Haggard and The Derailers, two other artists who are just too country for country radio.

Besides keeping traditional country alive, Walser's other main goal in country music is to play the Grand Ole Opry. "They've been trying to get me on the Grand Ole Opry," he says, although the plans have fallen through each time so far. "It'd be wonderful if I could become a member of it," he says, even though he admits he's probably too old.

Thus, Walser will go on playing his own brand of country music for anyone who wants to hear it, selling 30,000 copies of his albums instead of three million like some less talented, more videogenic young country superhunks.

And in doing so, he's helping keep alive the roots of country music sorely missed by many fans.

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