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Albums Of The Week: Various Artists | Mighty Fine: An Austin City Limits Tribute to Walter Hyatt

A slate of Americana stars pay tribute to one of their own in this 1997 ACL episode.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Uncle Walt’s Band (David Ball, Champ Hood and Walter Hyatt) were one of the most popular acts in late ’70s/early ’80s Austin, Texas, where the South Carolina band relocated after a long stint in Nashville. Their on-point songwriting, playing, and singing garnered them local fans, but also Texas luminaries like Willis Alan Ramsey, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and (then-Texas A&M student) Lyle Lovett. After a few self-released albums and cassettes, the band went their separate ways, with Hyatt returning to Nashville with his wife Heidi.

In 1990, Lovett produced Hyatt’s major label debut King Tears, and went on the road with Walter as his opening act. Three years later, Hyatt released Music Town. Then, sadly, he died in the 1996 ValueJet plane crash that took the lives of all passengers and crew. Lovett helped organize tribute concerts to benefit Hyatt’s wife and children. In 1997, Austin City Limits broadcast one of those tributes featuring friends and fans including Lovett, Ramsey, Gilmore, Junior Brown, Marcia Ball, Allison Moorer, David Halley, Shawn Colvin, and his Uncle Walt’s Band partners, Ball and Hood.

Now, nearly 25 years later, the 11 songs from that original broadcast are available for the first time as Mighty Fine: An Austin City Limits Tribute to Walter Hyatt. The set adds six tracks recorded for, but not shown on Austin City Limits. To make this collection even more special, four previously unissued Hyatt recordings make their debut. The packaging features photos and a new essay from North Carolina author and musician Thomas Goldsmith. It truly is mighty fine.”