Walt Wilkins inarguably personifies the idea of a true Texas troubadour. It was specifically Walt’s talent, mystique, and even the sense of spirituality in his music that inspired Dan Johnson, of the Salt Cedar Rebels, to become a songwriter.
Dan recounts, "I was in Red River, New Mexico, attending the Texas Red’s Songwriter Festival the first time I saw Walt play. He was singing “If it Weren’t for You” to a silent, spellbound crowd, with just him and his guitar on stage. I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. After the show, I told him it was the prettiest song I’d ever heard, and I wanted to go into music full-time. He wished me lots of luck, because it’s a difficult path. A year later, I was playing this Thursday night, solo gig in Amarillo. It started off absolutely depressing. I mean it was seriously just me, the sound guy, and the bartender! I was sitting there on stage, really doubting myself. I kept thinking ‘nobody is listening, and nobody cares. This was a mistake.’
But while I was singing, I thought about that night in Red River and what Walt’s inspiration meant to me. I wondered how many times he had played to an empty room when he started and no one knew his name. So I made up my mind that I’d play for those two people like they were a thousand. I poured my heart out. And the most amazing thing happened. Before I even finished that same song, the door flew open and the bar literally filled up with people. It was like an answer to a prayer. That night I sat down and wrote ‘Troubadour’s Prayer.’”
That wasn’t even the most interesting part of the story. Shortly after that night, Dan and the Rebels were actually back in Red River playing a show, themselves. Corby Schaub (Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses, Son’s of Fathers, and most recently Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros) just happened to be there. Corby talked to the band afterward, saying he’d really enjoyed the music and he’d like to produce a studio album.
Schaub came to Amarillo (where the band was based at the time) and worked on pre-production around Johnson’s kitchen table. When Dan played “Troubadour’s Prayer,” Corby noticed the emotion of the song and asked about its origins. Dan explained how Walt had been so influential in his life and music and told the story of how the song came to be. Corby responded, “Man, I’d really love to get Walt to sing this with you.”
At that very moment, Corby’s phone chimed. He picked it up, looked at it a moment, and turned the phone around for Dan to see. It was a text from Walt. “How’s the production meeting going?” Corby said he wanted Wilkins to sing a song on the album, and after listening to it, Walt agreed.
In this touching ballad, Wilkins takes on the role of a "troubadour angel,” on the shoulder of Dan Johnson, through the joys and struggles of life as a touring troubadour. Walt’s passion and presence are a stirring addition to Dan’s heartfelt plea. The song in available on all online music sources.