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The Wilders

 •  The Wilders

The Wilders are unstoppable. When a band generates this kind of juice without plugging in, they can set up anywhere and incite a crowd to riot. Their stop & go breakneck version of "Driving Nails In My Coffin" alone is worth the price of admission.

Listening to their new high-energy recording Throw Down makes it obvious that this group is an absolute terror live, so I hope my press pass makes it possible to shoot some video on this combo at Merlefest in a week and we can share it with you in our June issue.

The Wilders are a worldly bunch of hillbillies currently from Kansas City, who come to this old time country, string band, and bluegrass music from far flung musical corners like opera, classical, punk, and tuba music. To my ears, the kick ass fiddling of Betse Ellis is the nose of this loco-motive, propelled by the driving guitar of vocalist and leader Ike Sheldon, the clawhammer banjo chops and mandolin work of Phil Wade, and the doghouse bass of Nate Gawron. Everybody sings, but the lead vocals are handled expertly by Ike and Betse.

About half the tunes are originals, and a few are memorable instrumentals by Betse Ellis. The rest are faithful and stirring renditions of tunes by people like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and John Hartford. The record is co-produced, engineered, and mixed by old time music icon Dirk Powell in his studio near Beaux Bridge, LA, The Cypress House. We feel truly remiss in not having interviewed this national treasure by this time, and hope to remedy that in the near future.

It's amazing, really, in this age of hip hop and rap, that such a vital resurgence of string band music could be simultaneously afoot. But it's everywhere! However, one would be hard pressed to find a more locomotivated outfit than The Wilders. These cats throw down, hard. Get it. • Frank Goodman

The Wilders live!

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wilderscountry.com     ruralgrit.com


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