The latest release from Sam Wheelock, “Some 1 I Used To B”, highlights a true original roots musician searching for unique associations between classic and modern styles. Mr. Wheelock explores some electronic tones while remaining true to classic Americana, the classic blues and country roots music of the Southern Appalachians.
Sam Wheelock is an amalgamation of the many musical influences of the Eastern Tennessee Mountains. He not only recalls members of the Carter Family playing in the front yard of a family home but also the influences of mountain blues and jazz. These recollections include bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson playing on the streets and commingle with the sounds of Fiddlin’ Charlie Bowman. Growing up in this area deeply affected Mr. Wheelock and led to his fearless integration of old and new, drawing from Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and George Harrison while playing his part in the evolution of the music of the southern Appalachian mountains. Mr. Wheelock has been involved with Grammy nominated projects and has won awards for his music in advertising. He has been affiliated with ABC Productions and contributed to shows and movies like “BayWatch”, “The Adams Family” movie and “From Dusk Til Dawn” (Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriquez).
“Some 1 I Used To B” opens with a soldier’s march and Mr. Wheelock gruffly whispering like Jon Dee Graham or a sedated Tom Waits. “Can’t Take My Dignity” eventually gives way to KT Pierce’s haunting vocals answering to the rhythmic murmur. Ms. Pierce is now all alone and is only rescued by a lonely electric guitar ringing out. The song ends with whispering vocals, a lone and exposed guitar, and the longing vocals of Ms. Pierce all trading phrases and somehow all standing alone together.
“Rose Connelly” shows another side of Sam Wheelock. This blues rock / Americana piece showcases the gospel influenced, Broadway experienced vocals of Loretta Bowers. Her soulful approach perfectly supports the classic blues influenced theme as Mr. Wheelock masterfully injects spoken word vocals and recurring guitar licks “ala John Leventhal”. The tune is interlaced with an almost reggae rhythm as instrumentation invokes strongly the upbeat and eventually gives way to a rock beat churning in a boiling, multi-genre gumbo.
The “Some 1 I Used To E” EP from veteran musician Sam Wheelock masterfully demonstrates the infinitely diverse influences that make up American music in Appalachia. Hard to define, texturally rich yet simple, and steeped in the complex ingredients that make American music unique. Sam Wheelock is not afraid to bring these influences to bear in the context of a modern sound and “Some 1 I Used To B” should be the benchmark used to define the genre “Americana”.
Review by Travis Prescott