RICHARD WIEGEL – Wiegel Room
Stream and buy music here
See a Video clip here
There are lots more videos on Richard’s YouTube Channel
Even more videos here
One of Madison’s under-sung musical giants, Richard Wiegel is entering his fiftieth year as a professional musician and doing it with style. Wiegel is a true gentleman whose story goes back to the seeds of rock and roll in Wisconsin. His first real group was the KinghtKrawlers, which he joined in 1965. From there Wiegel went on to join some of the best bands in Wisconsin’s rock and roll history: Clicker, The Bowery Boys and Baby Grand. Eventually Wiegel suffered from tinnitus which forced him to focus on acoustic music. He’s had stints with lots of other big-name groups including The Swing Crew, The Wisconsin Opry, Johnny and the Hawaiians, Beverly Jean and Out of the West, Kristy and the Wild Blue Yonder Boys (with Kristy Larson), and The Midwesterners (Some back ground on these groups can be found here). In 2003 Wiegel released Out of the Blue, his first solo recording (Read the review here).
Wiegel also did a recording of children’s songs but Wiegel Room is his second official solo outing.
Here’s a real nugget for you! A video clip of Clicker at the Shuffle Inn in 1978. The sound is incredible.
The seventeen original selections that make up Wiegel Room are extraordinarily pleasing acoustic guitar instrumentals. Most are layered with overdubs and reflect a beautifully pastoral sensibility. A good example is the opening track. Though it’s named “Buddy Holly” it recalls little of that seminal rocker’s rockabilly leanings. A pleasant chord progression with Wiegel coming in to solo over the top, it meanders through alternating sequences like a stream running through a meadow. One of my favorites here is “Candi” a gorgeous track in a similar vein. “Waterfall” cascades, as its title suggests while slide guitar flutters like birds. “Richard’s Rondo” has a very classical feel and yet is not straightforward. Built around a single bass note, the song introduces layers of guitars which variate on the main melodic theme before a lead slide guitar gives things a very George Harrison feel.
Other selections display Wiegel’s penchant for a Chet Atkins-style picking. The title track, “Descending” and especially “Mad Pickin’” recall the Country Gentleman while “Riff on a Monday” takes things in a mellower direction. “Lazy A” sounds like Atkins himself is sitting in a circle of players who are just jamming out on a blues progression.
Still others employ the resonator guitar. “Charlie Parr,” “Wednesday Blues” and “Pat’s Blues” show Wiegels’ versatility at adopting different styles, sometimes fusing things together to make them his own.
The sound on the recording is also of note. The range is full with the bass notes deep and resonant. It sounds like Wiegel is right in front of you, perhaps just across the living room. This gives the recording a very personal feel and though there are overdubs on a lot of the tracks, there is a feeling of spontaneity. The qualities of the guitars’ different woods become apparent and you can almost sense which tracks were recorded in different locations. It’s like following Wiegel through different rooms of a house where he might have different guitars stashed, the ambience of the room coloring the timbre of the instruments and the view out any particular window coloring the mood. Only the final track, Slippery Slope” sounds like it was done on inferior equipment but the song is so cool it makes little difference. Wiegel’s soloing is impassioned and the thick chorus of guitars providing the bed for this are intoxicating.
Wiegel Room often brings David Gilmour to mind, especially his more recent recordings but also those hidden acoustic gems scattered throughout the earlier Pink Floyd albums. There is a detached easiness and the music feels set in natural surroundings, summery and easy. “Continental Blues,” for instance, sounds like something right off of Atom Heart Mother. Of course references could be made to a host of other guitar fingerstylists going back to Robert Johnson and progressing through classical and rock notables.
2015 looks like it will be another productive year for Wiegel. He has another solo CD in the wings and a new Midwesterners CD nearing completion. He’s also hinted at making older, and much rarer, recordings and videos available on his YouTube channel. Anyone interested in Wisconsin rock and roll history should keep an eye out for that, there are sure to be lots of gems.
In the meantime there is Wiegel Room, a supremely rewarding listening experience. Fifty years may be a long time but it sure feels like Wiegel has renewed energy and for music aficionados in this area, that is a supremely wonderful thing.