Don Walser, the Pavarotti of the Plains, died on Wednesday at age 72.
One of my first memories of Austin, Texas was, shortly after I moved there in 1995, heading down to 6th Street, stopping off in a little sports bar called "Babe's", having a terrific cheeseburger, and listening to Don Walser, the Yodeling Cowboy, play western swing from a barstool for tips.
I remember thinking to myself..."I can't believe I'm actually being paid to go to school in this town. This is amazing!" We spent 7 years in Austin and I saw Don a number of times in different venues, but I'll never forget that first night I heard him yodel. I knew then that I was (at least temporarily) a Texan.
No where else but Austin could a guy like Don Walser end up touring with both Johnny Cash and the Butthole Surfers! If you haven't heard Don Walser, check out Melissa Block's story on NPR about him and visit DonWalser.com.