Modern Day Bojangles

Jerry Jeff (l) and Django Walker
Jerry Jeff (l) and Django Walker (Photo By Robert Wood)

The answers to the first two questions Django Walker is usually asked are "yes" and "yes."

Yes, he's the son of Jerry Jeff Walker, and yes, he's named for guitarist Django Reinhardt. He also inherited his father's talent and his mother's good looks, so it's easy to guess the direction of his future: Django Walker has all the makings of a star.

Of course, Jerry Jeff Walker's bootsteps are mighty big to fill and skepticism is not uncommon when it comes to second generations. With one CD on the shelves and another in the works, Django admits that he's often asked if he's riding his father's coattails. His rock & roll-inflected country sound suggests he's not, but the lessons to be learned are many.

"It sucks that he and I can't do more together," sighs Django. "We have so much fun. But I don't want people saying, 'Oh, he got here riding his father's coattails.' That's not it.

"My dad did tell me, 'Make sure music is what you want to do, because it's tough.' And my mom [who manages and books JJW] is great for advice. I try to do things my own way, but when it comes to business, I listen to her. In fact, when it comes to business, they can say I'm riding my mom's coattails!"

Mom's sage advice?

"Don't forget it's a business. There are a lot of good musicians, but not a lot of good businessmen."

Django, whose early ambition was to play professional basketball, has his own way of doing things. After graduating from high school in Austin, he attended the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in England for two years, where the lead patron is none other than Sir Paul McCartney. Walker honed his craft and returned to Texas in the summer of 2001 and went to work on his career in earnest.

In 2002, Django Walker's Down the Road was released, 12 songs produced by Lloyd Maines at Cedar Creek, including one co-written with Pat Green, whom Walker admires tremendously. The song, "Modern Day Bojangles," links Walker with his father's estimable career, but also marks Django as a serious up-and-comer.

These days, you're more likely to see the younger Walker in a gimme cap than a cowboy hat. He tours with a fourpiece band two to three days a week, mostly around Texas, with forays into Oklahoma and Louisiana. He's also got a soft spot for the Hill Country.

"The Hill Country has its own special charm," enthuses Walker. "It's the scenery and the greenery, a nice drive. And the people are real. When you play music in the Hill Country, you're helping people forget about the workday and their troubles and getting them to think about their dreams. For an hour and a half."

Django Walker has a dream, too, small but imminently attainable.

"One day I'll play Stubb's -- on the outside stage."

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