WRENCLAW – Nights & Weekends

CD Reviews 06 Jul 2016

Wrenclaw Nights and Weekends CD CoverWRENCLAW – Nights & Weekends

(2016  Self-Release)


You can purchase Nights & Weekends at the Wrenclaw Bandcamp page.


Wrenclaw will celebrate the release of Nights & Weekends at the High Noon Saloon on Friday, July 8th, 2016. It’s an early show: 5:30-8:00.


No one keeps it real like Dan Walkner and his band Wrenclaw. A little bit country, a little bit rock-and-roll and solidly Wisconsin. Nights & Weekends is the band’s second album, following 2014’s self-titled debut that also included Walkner’s father, Bill. That album was recorded in a couple of days in a cabin in Adams County in a single room, pretty much all live to tape. Nights & Weekends was likely done in the same fashion, its down-home spirit effectively bottled.

Wrenclaw channels the Band to large degree, their creative process draws parallels with the Big Pink days, when life was obviously a lot simpler. There is something comforting about Wrenclaw, then, like being in the company of good friends and remembering that life is in the living. The fact that recording projects an atmosphere of being right in the same room with the players is a bonus.

Most of the songs were written and sung by Walkner but drummer Jacob Miller gets into the act on the drinking tome “Whiskey Woman” in true Levon Helm fashion. His “whiskey woman” is going to make a drunkard out of him, though he confesses to being a sucker for the drinking life. It’s a classic lyric and Miller’s voice is smooth, the chorus is catchy and there are some tasty leads and lap steel from Walkner.  “One More Morning” was written and is sung by guitarist Josh Youngblood and is punctuated by Vince faris’s Fender Rhodes.

Walkner’s voice is somewhat reminiscent of Rick Danko’s and “Little Mary” is a great song that sounds like a long lost Band tune. Faris’s Hammond organ is central to this track while Walkner plays a nice harmonica while making reference to “brother Bill” who’s brought his cribbage board while Mary pulls out a Jim Reeves record. It doesn’t get much more Wisconsin than that. Unless you catch the reference to Golden Drop beer in Walkner’s tribute to small town life – Two Rivers, WI to be precise – in “Used to Be,” where he adds a nice dobro solo. “Drifter” uses vocal harmonies and is a dead-ringer for the Band’s style.

“Wrong Side of the Tracks” opens the record in snappy fashion, a bit Dylanesque in its lyrical delivery. Another tasty harmonica break is balanced with some double-lead guitar, beautifully and naturally out of time.

“Friends & Enemies” brings the Hammond back; images of small town life once again abound, this time it’s a church right next to the bar. It’s a bit self-deprecating, as in being your own best friend and worst enemy. Yes, there is drinking involved.

There is an authentic family feel to Wrenclaw that translates well to songs and records. Real music by real people just keeping it real is probably a good summation. Fans of the Band will be rewarded.

Here is a nice clip of Wrenclaw making an appearance on Wisconsin Public Television’s “30-Minute Music Hour” last October:


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About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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