CD: RONNIE JAY WHEELER – Red Dust Hideaway

Red Dust Hideaway
Red Dust Hideaway (Fourth Rate Romance Blues) –
Book Of Empty Pages – They Won’t Play My Songs on K101 – White Houses –
Tornado Alley Love – Stranger In A Strange Land – Chem Trail Pneumonia
Blues – I Wish I Was A Fiddler (From Eureka Springs) – Can’t Seem To
Make You Mine/Somebody’s Watching You – When They Ring The Golden Bells –
Red Dog Bottle Cap Song (Know When To Walk Away) – Old Jim’s Recreation
– This Land Is Your Land – Chem Trail Pneumonia (bonus track)

Ronnie Wheeler, like Wally Sanderson from Australia, attended
the 40th National Old Time Country/Folk/Bluegrass Festival in LeMars,
Iowa, for recognition of his recording abilities with a “CD of the Year”
award from the Rural Roots Music Commission.  He gave me this album to
review, and here I am listening to an interesting composer and recording
artist, Ronnie Jay Wheeler.  He wrote ten of the songs on this
interesting recording experience.  Ronnie isn’t really a traditional or
even classical country composer and singer.  He added a couple of songs
from his obvious ‘hero’ list, Eric Burdon from the Animals, contributed
‘White Houses” and another hero of Ronnie’s, Woody Guthrie contributed
“This Land Is Your Land.’  The entire album is a sort of
country-blues-rock-folk album which makes it very interesting to me.
Wheeler writes very much in the style of Guthrie, even sings a bit in
the Guthrie style.  He uses a lot of electric guitar and interesting
bluesy harmonica on nearly every song. Some of the songs are long
rambling stories, but they are very interesting because Ronnie Jay
Wheeler definitely has something to say when he writes.  A lot of
various, and very gifted, musicians took part in this session.  Ronnie
plays 12-string guitar, using it on the opening song “Red Dust
Highway,” and 6-string electric guitar, as well as a 6-string acoustic
guitar. I also found it interesting that Bill Palmer of Santa Fe, New
Mexico, did the mix and mastering at Frogville there.  Both of these
ingredients are extremely well done.   Not being stoned as I listened to
this production, I’m pretty sure that is the audience Ronnie is trying
to please.  He took himself with excellent blues to do a little
‘hillbilly’ sound with “I Wish I Was A Fiddler (From Eureka Springs)”
and he added some incredible Wurlitzer Hammond organ sound to “Red Dog
Bottle Cap Song.”  In another of his ‘life feeling’ songs “The Won’t
Play My Songs on K101” he writes “Big deal David Allen Coe, you ain’t
got nothing on me, cause I can write songs about my life too, and no
matter what you might say, I’m still free.”  Ronnie Jay Wheeler may very
well be the very last traveling troubadour of old style
country-blues-folk music working today.  Popular music, and the
incredible phoniness of it, can’t hold a candle to Wheeler’s sometimes
tragic songs of soul, heart, and life
for Country Music News International

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