hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --
It's been a long time coming... but here
it is, solo and acoustic, here at The Greystones! We are so excited to
welcome Webb Wilder to Sheffield for an extremely rare and much
anticipated show.. This will simply be magnificent y'all!
* * *
Before there were Kings of
Leon, Keys of Black or Whites of Jack in Nashville, there was Webb
Rock ’n’ roll, from
Nashville. Formed from Mississippi mud, tinged with British mod.
Bruised by the blues. Baptized by Buck and Chuck. Psychiatric psycho-rootsy.
Sizzling, glistening, uneasy listening. As it has been for three
decades, it is now and ever shall be. Webb Wilder.
Pronounce it however you like, but Webb pronounces it “Moe-durn.”
Hybridized and improvised.
“I hate to use the word
'mature,'” Webb says. And so we shall not.
Born more than 60 years
ago in Hattiesburg, Webb Wilder is not mature. He is the last of the
full-grown men, and the last of the boarding house people. He is a
unique presence among the peasants. He is a force for good, and a
friend to animals.
And he has just made
an album of uncommon uncommonness, of unusual unusualness.
Again, pronounce it however you like. The main thing is to listen, and
in your listening you shall hear a marvelous encapsulation of things
right and righteous, wistful yet wild, strange at times but always
strong. Garage rock and bluster blues. Fuzz-tone and fury, and, in
many ways, a full and unbroken circle back to the days when Webb
Wilder was a boy possessed of the mind of a full-grown man, listening
to The Kinks and The Move, an Anglophile in Mississippi.
“It’s a journey, and one
thing I’ve learned about myself is that I haven’t grown up,” Webb
says. “The good news is, I’m a musician. The bad news is, I’m a
The journey has taken
Wilder from the Magnolia State to Music City, with some hazily
important, 1970s gestation time spent in Austin. Mississippi
Moderne reflects stops along the way, and suggests future flights.
“Don’t try to tell
me I ain’t tough enough/ I’ll be rockin’ ’til the day I die,” he sings
in “Rough & Tumble Guy,” written with John Hadley, the sage who
crafted “Poolside,” one of the standout tracks on Wilder’s
groundbreaking 1986 album It Came From Nashville. That album —
which came out on Landslide Records, the same label that is home to
Mississippi Moderne — put a spotlight on Nashville as an
ecumenical city of song, not merely as Country Music City, USA.
“Back then, your advisers
would say, 'Don’t tell ‘em you’re from Nashville,'” Webb says. “And
Bobby Field, (friend and partner in crime) said, 'No, let’s tell 'em
it came from Nashville.' I’m so glad we did.”
Moderne, Wilder sings Field’s “I’m Not Just Anybody’s Fool,” and
he sings “I Gotta Move,” a song by the Kinks he used to perform with
The Drapes, back in Hattiesburg (Field produced that band’s EP). He
also delivers “Yard Dog,” a beautiful obscurity that Biloxi garage
rock band The One Way Street recorded in 1966. Explorations of Charlie
Rich’s “Who Will the Next Fool Be?,” Conway Twitty’s “Lonely Blue
Boy,” Frankie Lee Sims’ “Lucy Mae Blues” and Otis Rush’s “It Takes
Time” are dunked in deep blues, and performed with a crew of cohorts
that have been delivering Wilder music for years: interstellar bass
man Tom Comet, drum daddy Jimmy Lester, and guitar slingers Bob
Williams, Joe V. McMahan and George Bradfute. Wilder wrote “Only a
Fool” with the legendary Dan Penn (“The Dark End of the Street,” “Do
Right Man”), and he and Hadley reached back to Mississippi roots to
pen “Too Much Sugar for a Nickel,” a phrase Webb heard from his
“My mother was from rural
Mississippi, and she had a tough time growing up,” he says. “If
something was too good to be true, she’d say ‘That’s too much sugar
for a nickel.’ Hadley and I wrote that one. The song starts kind of
Wilbury-esque and ends up Rolling Stones-ish.”
That’s not to say that
Mississippi Moderne is only about looking back. Wilder and
Williams spend much of the album weaving future-ready solos and rhythm
guitar work, and the singer’s mighty baritone sets every melody in the
Once again, it comes from
Nashville. But it brings a world of swampadelic, Wilderized wisdom,
bluster, and mayhem. It’s Mississippi Moderne, right on time.