Walter Schmidt


Walter grew up in Fargo, ND and spent his teenage summers working on the family farm. In the evenings his uncle taught him to play guitar and his grandmother would play songs from the Methodist Hymnal on the piano. He learned to fingerpick when the great folk music scare of the the 1960's (Dave Van Ronk's phrase) swept the nation and played bad rock 'n roll when the British invaded. He started writing songs.

One morning in January, 1968, he was driving to a college class, it was 30 degrees below zero and the heater in his Studebaker Silverhawk wasn't working. He vowed he would never spend another winter in North Dakota.  He joined the Air Force.  A lot of interesting things happened after that.

Walter's songs tell stories in a variety of styles: swing, blues, ragtime, folk,  and tunes  that might have come from the 1930s or 40s. He sometimes says the songs are true, "whether or not they actually happened." The lyrics and melodies are carefully crafted. There is a lot of joy, love and humor in the songs. Some are deeply serious. Some are intended to make you think. All of them are intended to make you feel.

Photos by Reggie Ruth  Barrett