Considering where he was born, it is not too much of a stretch to imagine that some of the Southside Chicago amplified blues harmonica playing of masters such as Little Walter or Junior Wells may have seeped through a crack in this little Walter's bedroom door as he slept snugly in a not too far off suburban neighborhood. Transplanted to Austin, TX, Walter Daniels has brought the harmonica into quite a few styles of music not normally associated with the little hand held harp, including punk rock, country & western, and avant-garde free improvisation. He studied music theory and tenor saxophone at the University of Texas and logically fell into the ever-hyper Austin band scene. An infamous cowpunk band of the mid-'80s was the Hickoids, who were so corny they took to actually throwing the vegetable at the audience, budget permitting. Daniels added harmonica, laden with feedback, to this band's notorious song "Git Back in the Truck" on the Waltz-a-Cross-Dress-Texas EP on Toxic Shock. Meanwhile, he began playing old-time country with Toshio Hirano and the Hokum Boys, an acoustic string band also featuring Davy Jones (a Hickoid, not a Monkee), Mike Buck and Amy Farris, the latter player a Kelly Willis collaborator in early 2000. The next Daniels country band was the Hank Street Ramblers, which released a single on Double Naut records entitled "Got an Itch to Floss." When manic rockabilly frontman Evan Johns moved to Austin in the early '90s, he eventually began working with Daniels in the controversially named Gay Sportscasters band, which released two singles on Only Boy. In addition, Johns and Daniels have recorded some acoustic sessions together. Daniels also worked in the late '80s with Alejandro Escovedo in that respected Austin songwriter and bandleader's Buick MacKane project, focusing on straightahead rock music. This group released a CD on Rykodisc. Other projects in the late '80s and early '90s include Jack O'Fire, which also featured Austin punk legend Tim Kerr, whose credits include bands such as the Big Boys, Poison 13, and Monkeywrench. And so the swirl of Austin bands went on, the members bumping into each other on the way in and out of the local clubs. Next up for Daniels was a stint with Memphis roots punks the Oblivians and Monsieur Jeffrey Evans, releasing the Melissa's Garage which was both bootlegged overseas and released legitimately on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label. Daniels began tiptoeing into the world of free improvisation around this time, a piece entitled "Spider Hop," released as the B-side on an Undone single by Walter Daniels & the Gospel Clodhoppers. The Big Foot Chester band first performed on the birthday of moaning blues giant Howlin' Wolf in 1994, and since that time this teeth-gnashing blues outfit has been one of Daniels' main musical activities. He plays a triple role as a bandleader, vocalist, and harmonica soloist. The group has released two CDs on the Sympathy label, and performed in Holland at the Moulin Blues Festival alongside blues giants such as Buddy Guy and Duke Robillard. Light years away from the roots music scene would be Daniels' collaboration with North Carolina's Eugene Chadbourne, much of which is an extended tribute to the late Austin music legend Doug Sahm. Chadbourne, Daniels, Houston steel guitarist Susan Alcorn, and avant-garde trombonist David Dove performed the music of Sahm, Willie Nelson, Ernest Tubb, and Bob Wills in several Texas concerts in early 2000 and created the studio recording Texas Sessions at the same time. In the spring of 2001, Daniels again joined Chadbourne and Alcorn in Texas for a concert. Daniels remains a busy collaborator and has also worked with Texacala Jones, former lead singer of Tex & the Horseheads, the Hard Feelings, fiddler John Permenter, Hunt Sales, the LeRoi Brothers, rockabilly character Roy Loney, ex- Bad Liver Ralph White, and Earl "Pool" Ball. He has also produced a Sympathy album for the band the Crackpipes.
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