Monday, February 8, 2016

CD: RONNIE JAY WHEELER - Red Dust Hideaway

RONNIE JAY WHEELER
Red Dust Hideaway
Red Dust Hideaway (Fourth Rate Romance Blues) - Book Of Empty Pages - They Won't Play My Songs on K101 - White Houses - Tornado Alley Love - Stranger In A Strange Land - Chem Trail Pneumonia Blues - I Wish I Was A Fiddler (From Eureka Springs) - Can't Seem To Make You Mine/Somebody's Watching You - When They Ring The Golden Bells - Red Dog Bottle Cap Song (Know When To Walk Away) - Old Jim's Recreation - This Land Is Your Land - Chem Trail Pneumonia (bonus track)

Ronnie Wheeler, like Wally Sanderson from Australia, attended the 40th National Old Time Country/Folk/Bluegrass Festival in LeMars, Iowa, for recognition of his recording abilities with a "CD of the Year" award from the Rural Roots Music Commission.  He gave me this album to review, and here I am listening to an interesting composer and recording artist, Ronnie Jay Wheeler.  He wrote ten of the songs on this interesting recording experience.  Ronnie isn't really a traditional or even classical country composer and singer.  He added a couple of songs from his obvious 'hero' list, Eric Burdon from the Animals, contributed 'White Houses" and another hero of Ronnie's, Woody Guthrie contributed "This Land Is Your Land.'  The entire album is a sort of country-blues-rock-folk album which makes it very interesting to me. Wheeler writes very much in the style of Guthrie, even sings a bit in the Guthrie style.  He uses a lot of electric guitar and interesting bluesy harmonica on nearly every song. Some of the songs are long rambling stories, but they are very interesting because Ronnie Jay Wheeler definitely has something to say when he writes.  A lot of various, and very gifted, musicians took part in this session.  Ronnie plays 12-string guitar, using it on the opening song "Red Dust Highway," and 6-string electric guitar, as well as a 6-string acoustic guitar. I also found it interesting that Bill Palmer of Santa Fe, New Mexico, did the mix and mastering at Frogville there.  Both of these ingredients are extremely well done.   Not being stoned as I listened to this production, I'm pretty sure that is the audience Ronnie is trying to please.  He took himself with excellent blues to do a little 'hillbilly' sound with "I Wish I Was A Fiddler (From Eureka Springs)" and he added some incredible Wurlitzer Hammond organ sound to "Red Dog Bottle Cap Song."  In another of his 'life feeling' songs "The Won't Play My Songs on K101" he writes "Big deal David Allen Coe, you ain't got nothing on me, cause I can write songs about my life too, and no matter what you might say, I'm still free."  Ronnie Jay Wheeler may very well be the very last traveling troubadour of old style country-blues-folk music working today.  Popular music, and the incredible phoniness of it, can't hold a candle to Wheeler's sometimes tragic songs of soul, heart, and life
RECORD REVIEW BY BOB EVERHART - www.ntcma.net 
for Country Music News International
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