Last week I treated myself to a concert at Washington, D.C.’s The Hamilton for the Wheeler Brothers. Like many other bands from Austin, I found out about them through my buddies, Uncle Lucius who have toured on numerous occasions with the Wheeler Brothers. I was thoroughly impressed with the show the Wheeler Brothers put on, filling the large venue to capacity, even garnering a crowded dance floor up front. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into, attending this concert, but I came away with a smile on my face and the memory of a fantastic evening, despite feeling like I had attended some crazed and sweaty fraternity party.
While they may attract a rowdy, “bro”-type of crowd, the band has a really comprehensive and put-together sound. The instruments stood out but also came together to form delightful compositions. The vocalists were easy to understand and the instruments were all clear and precise. Want a great introduction the the band? May I suggest, “Call Me In the Morning,” which features the slide guitar (my new love), a rocking good vibe, and an all-over positive feel. Plus, I can’t get enough of these lyrics:
“Time is arbitrary
Taking me to Austin….
I got no worries
I know my time is right
And I got no money
I know my time is right.”
I was delighted to learn that the Wheeler Brothers are fans of a few instruments I am fond of: the xylophone was featured pretty prominently throughout the entire evening. It’s not every day you see a xylophone so prominently featured in so many songs, especially played live. This band also featured a banjo and a lap steel guitar. I’m just going to put this out there, but watching the lap steel guitar so much that night has given me a new musical instrument obsession. I need to learn to play that awesome thing! Do you want to know what Lap Steel Guitar Heaven sounds like? Get a load of this, in the completely beautiful, “Portraits:”
If you’re looking for a rollickin’ and rockin’ good time, look no further than one of my favorites, “Mississippi.” The sweet vocals, the chill guitar-plus-xylophone combination, and the rocking drums come together in this truly harmonious piece:
A number of the songs that I especially liked from that evening are apparently on the Wheeler Brothers’ upcoming album which is still being put together. Some of the more memorable new songs include “Yukon” among many others (which unfortunately I didn’t get the names of, but at least you’ve got that).
After scouring the internet for even more music from this band, I came upon this simple, stripped-down, acoustic version of, “I’ve Been Around.” It is a super mellow, Jack Johnson-like melody that I can’t get enough of, and the use of just a ukulele adds to the chill-factor completely:
I have to include potentially my favorite Wheeler Brothers song in this write-up. I love that the band described this one as “a beer drinking, honky-tonk kind of song,” which apparently was one of the very first songs the band wrote. In, “Sleep When I’m Dead,” you can really hear the Texas twang in not only the vocals, but in also the guitar and the jumping beat. Really, how can you stay still when you hear this tune?
The Wheeler Brothers finished off the romping evening with a calm and collected, a capella, “Goodnight,” a gospel tune that again, seemed very “typical college”, but more in a cute way, and less in a rowdy manner. In the end, the Wheeler Brothers left The Hamilton striking up this deal, which I’m more than ok with: “We’ll see you next time we’re in D.C.; we’ll see you next time you’re in Austin.” I’ll see to that, boys!