Richard Wiegel – Wiegel Room
For this CD, the leader of the popular Madison area roots-rock band The Midwesterners left very little “Wiegel Room” for anything but his lonely and largely acoustic guitar. The strategy plays like a royal flush because he has some tricks up his sleeve. One tune, “Richard’s Rondo,” just won the Madison Area Music Award for best classical composition. He chose a classical form for “Rondo,” an utterly fetching sequence of expositions and recapitulations, enriched by bluesy harmonies.
This delicious CD is largely folk-blues based, as per 1960s virtuosos John Fahey and Leo Kottke and their country-blues/R&R precursors. The opening “Buddy Holly” radiates all the genial charm of Buddy’s bespectacled smile and exuberant romanticism. By contrast, the mordantly vocal bottleneck slide picking of “Wednesday Blues” sounds like a working stiff mumbling to himself, which the weight of “hump day” can induce. “Lazy A” is behind-the-beat picking with a third chorus of pinging chords hovering around the shuffling A key like a taunting hummingbird. Throughout, Wiegel’s gifts for the droll aside and the lyrical sigh shine.
Richard Wiegel. Courtesy richardwiegel.bandcamp.com
Wiegel periodically enhances himself with adroit but never-overdone overdubs. and a few used a loop pedal. However Wiegel says applying those techniques may add a dimension but “you get what you get, you can’t go back and redo anything. Kind of like a Chinese watercolor.”
And the wisely ironic closer, “Slippery Slope,” from a James McMurtry chord pattern, uses relatively new-tech electric distortion on a 1970s Fender Mustang electric guitar, and recalls Bill Frisell. Wiegel suggests a human character — in a primping, inflated theme – a blustery politician who may not know he’s slipping? Ah, hubris, that old devil moon, you got me flyin’ high and low.
Perhaps the humble, those with little “Wiegel Room” for success, shall finally inherit the earth.
Wiegel reports that, with the loop pedal, he can perform all these songs live. His only current solo live date is at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5 at Fitz on the Lake, W11602 County Rd. V, in Lodi WI. For information visit: http://www.fitzsrestaurantlakewisconsin.com/. Wiegel Room is available at: www.richardwiegel.bandcamp.com And extensive liner notes to the recording are available at http://themidwesterners.com/news.
This review, in slightly shorter form, was originally published in The Shepherd Express.