Sometimes songs just find you. It's when you need them most. Call it fate if you will. When Bruce Robison suggested Uncle Walt's Band's "Don't You Think I Feel It Too" to singer-songwriter Carson McHone as a possible song for their Next Waltz session, she had been listening to the timeless gem for weeks.
"My mom had given me this Uncle Walt's Band CD a while back," McHone tells Wide Open Country. "Around that time, I'd been going to see a counselor. They were way out west of town so I was taking these back roads through the hill country about once a week. I'd become obsessed with it. When Bruce was showing me songs, it felt natural to go with it."
Uncle Walt's Band is one of those larger than legend bands. Though they were never super successful commercially, Uncle Walt's Band--Walter Hyatt, Champ Hood and David Ball--were as influential as they come. Built around smooth three-part harmonies, bustling acoustic instrumentation and earnest lyrics with a poetic feel, Uncle Walt's Band were an integral part of Austin, Texas' dynamic music scene in the '70s and early '80s.
"It's been said that The Velvet Underground only sold 2,000 of their first record, but everybody that bought one started a band," says Robison. "Some really influential bands become super famous and some don't. At an Uncle Walt's Band show in the '70s in Austin, you might have seen Gary P. Nunn, Shawn Colvin, Marcia Ball, Lyle Lovett or Willis Alan Ramsey digging on the boys from Spartanburg."
"Don't You Think I Feel It Too," an airy and light ballad written by Ball, has a fine and delicate touch to it. McHone taps into that unfiltered and pure beauty with ease.
"Lately you leave me in a cold state of mind," sings McHone, an Austin native herself. Her vocals are anything but cold. They fill the room with a rarified glow. It cradles a warm tenderness.
Hood's son Warren and nephew Marshall join McHone and bassist Nigel Frye on "Don't You Think I Feel It Too." They keep it unrushed and uncomplicated. It sways back and forth as if it was slow dancing by itself on old hardwood floors.
"I wanted it to be beautiful since it's a really beautiful song, but I didn't want it to be too pretty," says McHone. "I wanted there to be a little bit of an edge to come across."
Warren's mandolin and fiddle add a textured richness that's smooth yet vibrantly raw. Though they're certainly strong elements within "Don't You Think I Feel It Too," they don't overpower the senses.
There's detail to that spaces between. That space, it breathes and right alongside McHone and company. She sometimes accents the space with gentle hums between lines. They're feathered in between as Warren and Marshall glide through with mandolin and acoustic guitar.
"I'm so glad we could get Warren and Marshall Hood," says Robison. "They're keeping that Carolina sound alive and well. They're two of the best players in Austin too, which is saying something. Carson knew we had to get them out here for this song."
McHone's "Don't You Think I Feel It Too" feels like a cool and gentle spring shower. You're watching it from a wrap-around porch. It's the raindrops falling through the leaves of front yard's trees. You still your hands out and feel the water kiss your skin. It's clean, pure and soul replenishing. For a minute, everything's in its right place.
In part, that comes from Robison's demeanor and the overall presentation of The Next Waltz. It's free-flowing and easy-going. McHone calls Robison a "calming presence." That alone adds a meditative quality to the Uncle Walt's Band standard.
"Marshall, Warren and Nigel, they're all pros. There's some good pressure in being surrounded by people like that," McHone adds.
In addition to The Next Waltz collaboration, McHone is currently readying the full-length album Carousel, the follow-up to her debut album Goodluck Man. In recent weeks, she released "Sad," the new album's first single. You can currently pre-order "Don't You Think I Feel It Too" on iTunes here.
Watch the additional behind the scenes moments and interviews with Warren, Marshall, Robison and Steve McCreary at Collings Guitars as they discuss the storied history of Uncle Walt's Band. "Don't You Think I Feel It Too" was produced by Robison and both films were directed by Spencer Peeples.
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