Webb Wilder, with Opie Hendrix and the Texas Tall Boys
I reckon most folks picture 1980s Nashville as some kind of retro country heaven; images of Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Clint Black swim like sugar-plum fairies before Budweiser-reddened corneas. Yet for every movement there is a countermovement, and in the midst of this overhyped, hyperventilated, narcissistic, stagnant return to the imagined purity of Jones, Twitty and Hag, there was a vibrant counterculture underground making music in Nashvegas in the '80s, the likes of which may never be duplicated. Jason and the Scorchers -- those hyperdynamic lunatic originators of "cowpunk" -- led the way, but Webb Wilder and his Beatnecks weren't far behind. Influenced by punk, rock, surf, blues and hard-core drownin'-in-my-tears, cryin'-in-my-beer country classics, not to mention a hunka-hunka-burnin' Elvis, these bands created a musical fusion that grabbed the Nashville straights by the nose and slapped the cocaine mucus from their makeup-plastered noses. They also lit a creative fuse in bands from L.A. to NYC.
Since his early Mississippi days in the legendary Drapes, Webb Wilder has focused on only two types of music: rock and roll. There's nothing cutesy-pie about Wilder's albums. They contain don't-need-no-explanation titles like "Dance for Daddy," "Rock 'n Roll Ruby" and "How Long Can She Last." The rhythms are primal, the guitar solos mile-a-minute. The words "hoochie coochie" come to mind. And Little Egypt.
Performances in experimental art flicks like Horror Hayride and Private Eye -- both of which have become cult classics -- helped springboard the creation of the Webb Wilder persona (okay, kiddos, time to fess up; Webb Wilder is actually John McMurry, and no, there is no Santa Claus). Wilder and Mississippi roots-rock fellow traveler R.S. Field have been rocking since high school, and neither shows signs of planning to open an old-folks home in Branson anytime soon. In fact, Wilder's career has experienced a resurgence of late with the reissue of the 1986 Racket Records classic It Came from Nashville and the Ides of March release of the appropriately titled About Time, Wilder's first new studio album since the vastly underappreciated Acres of Suede (1996).
Now an XM Radio disc jockey (no doubt outer space is the place for a Webb Wilder broadcast), in 1991 the Idol of Idle Youth was touring behind Doo Dad, one of the butt-movinest, swamp-dogginest, sweat-causinest albums ever released out of Nashvegas, Tennessee (the album is out of print, but I suspect if legal issues ever allow Doo Dad to be rereleased, it will solve the Palestinian issue, eradicate the federal deficit, and cure Rush Limbaugh of his OxyContin problem before breakfast). I took my 13-year-old son to see Wilder's Doo Dad show at Fitzgerald's. With a band that featured tom-tom magician Jimmy Lester, Houston's own Denny Blakely on bass, and electric guitar badass Donny Roberts, Wilder changed the kid's life.
Bored with your job? Tired of your husband? Sick of the debt collectors? Wondering if the people trying to sell you "natural male enhancement" potions have been reading your mail? Shake it on down to Dan Electro's Friday night and maybe the Last of the Full Grown Men will change your life, too.
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