The man rightfully dubbed "God's own yodeler" became a cult hit and surely for some casual listeners merely a passing novelty, so retro-corny he was cool. But there's no pretense, nothing gimmicky about this West Texas native who started years ago moonlighting in a band called the Panhandle Playboys. He and his music, both the classic covers and dead-on brilliant originals, are the real deal. His excellent follow-up CDs, Texas Top Hand (1996) and last year's Down at the Sky-Vue Drive-In, have established Walser as a noble, firmly rooted presence on the pop-diluted wasteland that is contemporary country music. Beyond genres, he's also an honest-to-goodness musical wonder to behold.
Anyone who appreciates authentic Texas swing in the tradition of Bob Wills, blue yodeling inspired by Jimmie Rodgers or the narrative-via-country-song sincerity of Hank Snow needs to hear Walser perform with his Pure Texas Band. Heck, anyone who understands the beauty of damn-near-perfect tenor clarity should check him out, too. Whether he's smoothly crooning the Sons of the Pioneers' "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" or doing the honky-tonk shuffle while reminding us that "(The Party Don't Start) 'Til the Playboys Get Here," Walser delivers every nuance as true as a well-thrown lasso.
-- Roger Wood
Don Walser performs Friday, June 11, at The Brewery, 6224 Richmond at 9:30 p.m. Cover charge is $10. Call (713)953-0101.