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Webb Wilder

Thu - Sep 12, 2019

Also available tonight
Webb Wilder - 7 PM 52
Also available tonight
Waitin on Hayden - 930 PM 87
$25.00 Per Ticket
| $28.00 at the door
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Online tickets sales end at 5 PM on the day of the show!

Webb Wilder made quite an entrance in 1986 by refusing to listen to popular wisdom. “During that time, if you wanted to purvey something in the rock world, people told you not to tell anybody your label was in Nashville,” he says.

So Wilder named his debut album “It Came From Nashville.”

While country-music vogue at the time was about free-flowing hair, Wilder sported the kind of fedora a midcentury gumshoe might wear. And the cover of “It Came From Nashville”? It also had UFOs on it. But that album was a bracing shot of red-eyed roots music at a time when such a thing was scarce. The Mississippi native created a pan-Southern music that drew from soul, country and rockabilly, a mix that would likely receive greater renown today, now that those musics have huddled together under the Americana tag. At the time, he was the rare guy making such musical doo-dads.

So Wilder’s new album “Powerful Stuff!” should prove exciting to those who fell for his buzzing rock ’n’ roll all those years ago. Wilder calls the album “a bit of an archeological dig,” as he went through his archives and emerged with more vibrant music made between 1985 and 1993. That era found Wilder in Nashville after having taken a swing in Austin in the mid-’70s. Wilder grew up in Hattiesburg, Miss., “which wasn’t like Mars, but it was a little enclave that was idyllic but a little boring to some of us who wanted to get away. You don’t realize until you leave that you grew up in a region forged in the crucible of Afro-Celtic culture that is the Deep South that can affect you on a subliminal level.”

Wilder and drummer/producer/songwriter R.S. Field visited Austin in 1975 and stumbled into the Split Rail, where Rick Stein & the Alleycats were playing. “Imagine a guy in cowboy boots playing the Beau Brummels’ ‘Laugh Laugh,’” he says. “So I knew where I needed to be. I got to town January 1976 and was like, ‘Now what do I do?’”

His first gig was at a topless bar called the Sitting Bull.

But Wilder’s band didn’t get much traction there, and he eventually moved to Nashville, as did Field.

They nevertheless left some evidence of their presence behind in Austin.

The title track of “Powerful Stuff!” was written by Field and was a staple in Wilder’s sets for years. The version here was from the Mountain Stage show in 1988 in West Virginia.

Soon after, Austin’s Fabulous Thunderbirds recorded the song for the soundtrack to “Cocktail” and enjoyed a minor hit with it.

“I was thrilled for them,” Wilder says. “But we stepped away from it then. We did and we do covers but not current radio-hit covers. And you can’t put up a disclaimer: ‘Hey, we did it first!’ So I forgot about it.”

He kept working on his signature sound, which completed a cycle of sorts: Wilder adored the ’60s British Invasion music and in his own way reclaimed much of that music’s Southern root system with some influence from New York and California.

“I guess I can blame it on the Beatles,” he says. “They could make an album where they did a Broadway showtune and a Chuck Berry song and make both sound line the hippest thing in the world.”

So “Powerful Stuff!” includes some Wilder originals and several written by Field, as well as songs associated with Tina Turner and Johnny Paycheck.

“I never saw myself as a purist about anything,” he says. “There are many purists I admire. We talked about the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Jimmie Vaughan was born to play the blues. His dad was a hillbilly guy, but even when Jimmie plays hillbilly music, it comes out as the blues. For me, I just wanted the music to be eclectic. Our limitations can govern our strengths. There are things I can and can’t do, but what I’ve done I’ve tried to do my way.”


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