Published in Bluegrass Unlimited, October 2006. Used with permission.

On The Edge Review

The Wilders

Throw Down

Rural Grit Records RGCD - 030

Some people believe that you always have to be able to assign strict labels to bands and music. Maybe it helps avoid exposing your ears to something you might not like but if you listen all the way through Throw Down, you begin to see some problems with such a rigid approach. You can't put the Wilders into just one single bin in the ol' record store. At times, they're a by-the-book old-time band. Other times, they have a distinctly traditional country sound. You hear echoes of Appalachia, stretches of swing and hints of honky tonk. Take some early Roy Acuff, back in the 30s and 40s, update with spicing of Ray Price-flavored shuffles and Hank Williams-styled barroom ballads, all on acoustic instruments, add a pumping upright bass backbone through it all and you start to get the picture of what the Wilders offer.

The interesting thing is that, despite the wide variety, Throw Down doesn't suffer from a lack of focus. It all ties together because, in the end, it's all just country music of one sort or another. The Wilders have a deep and compelling, foot-tapping sense of rhythm that lays the foundation, whether it's the old-timey Jenny on the Road, the hard-driving When the Levee's Gone or the honky-tonkin' spiritual Belshazzar. You can easily imagine pretty much any of the early Opry acts doing The Blues Come Around, or a ballad like Together Apart. Come to think of it, maybe that's the best label for them  a one-band old-time Opry show.

If your inclination is to hear music for what it is, not what it's called, you can find a lot on Throw Down to tickle your fancy. If your taste in music is less broad, the Wilders will challenge your ears. Stick with it, though. It's all good.

Rural Grit Records, Kansas City, MO,

Archie Warnock, [email]

Archie's BU Review Page