SAYING GOODBYE TO CHAMP HOOD

Michael Corcoran, American-Statesman Staff
11-08-2001
The Austin American-Statesman
 

'Good morning," Toni Price said to open her show at the Continental Club on Tuesday. "That's what Champ would say whenever you called him because he was always just waking up." Next to Price was a chair, Champ Hood's chair, that she said would remain empty, though it was piled with flowers, pictures, poems, candles and a miniature fiddle. Hood and John "Mambo" Treanor had entirely different personalities -- Hood reserved and private, his twinkling eyes a tip-off to all the humanity inside, while Treanor was outgoing and upfront. The two mainstays of Price's "Hippie Hour" handled their bouts with cancer in opposite ways. Mambo had a very public fight with the disease, even playing at his own tribute at Antone's a few weeks before he died in August. When Champ succumbed to cancer Saturday morning, high on a hill his friends had moved him to, he had told very few people that he was dying.

But the grief was similar when these two soulful, intuitive musicians were remembered with candlelight vigils in the street behind the Continental. On Tuesday, Champ's musical family constructed an altar on a hill behind the club, while inside, Hood's only son, Warren, an 18-year-old violin prodigy looking to attend the Berklee School of Music in the spring, played like an apple that didn't fall far from the tree.

Champ's memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 4700 Grover Ave., and you can bet David Ball, the lone survivor of Uncle Walt's Band (led by Walter Hyatt) will get there by all means necessary. Ball, who has a Top 10 country single with "Riding With Private Malone," heard about Hood's passing while traveling by tour bus in Mississippi. "Champ was my best friend in the world," Ball says. When the bus broke down just outside of Tupelo, Ball, desperate to be home with his family, hitchhiked all the way back to Nashville.
 

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