The “Pavarotti of the Plains,” Don Walser passed away today. The Austin American-Statesman said, “Walser’s musical mission was to expose the country music of his youth to new audiences. Opening for such acts as the Butthole Surfers and Ministry, Walser introduced such old Western classics as ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds’ and ‘Cherokee Maiden’ to a whole new audience, one that often jubilantly moshed to his songs…”

Closer to home, Mr. Walser also sang that high lonesome yodel on the Old 97’s “Old Familiar Steam,” and the band, in a way, returned the favor last year at Greune Hall, when they covered Don’s signature tune, “Rolling Stone From Texas,” during the concerts that were recorded for Alive & Wired. He was a great guy, a fine musician, and a Texas original. R.I.P..

Get yer new Rhett dates here, and yer new Old 97’s pictures here! And hey you! Yeah you, Chi Cheng of the Deftones. The Old 97’s are cool. Glad you’re listening though.

Rhett was in the England last week, promoting The Believer‘s UK release on Wrasse Records. Wrote Rhett: “I just appeared on Phil Jupitus’ show on BBC6. Very funny guy. We talked about The Wedding Present for about a half an hour. Must have made for riveting radio.” Of course Rhett sprung the news on his MySpace blog on the afternoon of the 11th, after he was already there and just before his one British appearance, an in-store at one of London’s Fopp Music locations. Rhett, say something before you go next time!

Speaking of, I did hear from Philip the other day, who sprung the news that Murry and Grey… Well, it’s a boy. Or will be, come January. Right now he’s a sonogram with a very distinct visual signature, if you know what I mean. So send them baby-shower jammies in baby-blue, kids! Also, you’ve still got one more chance to catch Philip with I Love Math this month, on September 27 at Dallas Club Dada. I’m telling you, these guys are terrific. Catch ’em if you can! They’ve also got their sophomore album in the can, and we’ll have details here when it hits the shelves.

Finally, I mentioned last time that we’d have a “second of its kind” offer during this update. And we do. See, years ago, Hit By A Train, a.k.a, this web site, had part-time contributors, who’d write in with various postings, news, reviews, and the like. Well I still get many of the tips and news for the site via e-mailed suggestions, so I’d like to try that idea again. Are you up for the challenge? I’m not talking about rants or hyped-up plugs, as I can keep doing those myself 😉 Instead I’m looking for Old 97’s items that are fresh, insightful, smart, and on-topic. If you’ve got one, or more, send them here: landings DOT geo AT yahoo DOT com. I’ll post the good ones, with full credit to you. And if it turns out in time that we’re in synch about what ought to be posted here, you’ll be in line get the keys to the kingdom: The magic username and password to post updates directly to Hit By A Train and, and credit as a co-editor of the site.

I’m not bailing out. Far from it. But I have heard the desires of some visitors for more frequent updates, and man, this is about the Old 97’s, so I am all over that idea. Furthermore, the site design has been the same since about the time Drag It Up dropped, so sometime in the next few months, I’d say it’s also about time for a nip and tuck. I gave over the last two site redesigns to professionals, because that’s what it deserves, but it’s time to ask again: Are you an html pro, with a background in website design and interested in lending a hand with updating or a redesign of If so, I’d like to hear from you, so drop a line to the address shown above.

We’ll have more Old 97’s news when it happens. Until then, I’ll see y’all at the Granada on the 12th. Cheers!

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