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The Green Wire and our Quest for Rebirth

Electricians have known for years that the only way to neutralize electrical current, is that green wire, called the “Ground Wire.” Grounding an electrical circuit makes electricity more safe, efficient, controllable and usable. We are all, as humans, just a bunch of walking, talking, working, eating, farting, stumbling, microcosmic electrical systems, in close proximity to six billion others of the same variety. It could be possible that the only thing keeping these currents from going haywire and sending us all into a state of simultaneous, spontaneous combustion, is the fact that our feet are physically touching the ground.

Just like you, I search the world. I long for something in my heart that doesn’t have a name, isn’t quantifiable or tactile and always seems just out of grasp. I’m not talking about the negative emotion of angst or about the fact that I don’t have all of the material things I want. Hell, I’m not really even talking about happiness. I am speaking more of the very necessary ambition to feel a solace in my heart, in real time, RIGHT NOW.

This cosmic quest has been written about by philosophers for eons. It seems to me that the easiest path to this type of freedom lies in our uniquely human endeavor to engage in activities that we can digest, in order to make our existence more interesting, spiritual, challenging, unique and above all else, connected. The digital age, (which, for better or worse, is the era in which we live), has produced the very unfortunate and unintended consequence of disconnection and disenfranchisement.

In order to scratch this un-itchable itch, most people turn to religion, money (or credit), sex, food, physical fitness, love, drugs, travel, reading, the Kardashians, etc., in order to “get their fix”. Occupy your mind to escape the mundane. It’s called trying to have a little fun in your life, right? It’s a beautiful thing.

Along with millions of others, my drug of choice is live music. Music created by the hands and voices of human beings.

When we go out to see music and go dancing, it is my belief that we aren’t going out to do either one of those things per se, but really to escape reality. To forget all that plagues us and have a few honest moments where we become the true form of ourselves.

At a show this past weekend, we finished a song and the place erupted with boisterous applause. At that moment, I happened to lock eyes with a guy at the end of the bar who seemingly had absolutely nothing on his mind, other than the musical experience we had all just enjoyed together inside that club. Grinning from ear to ear, he was absolutely, 100% focused on his current human condition, in the HERE & NOW. And his condition was good…really, really good.

Maybe our ground wire isn’t the physical connection to the earth, but maybe it’s the cosmic, cellular connection that we can feel for one another in our moments of solace. Maybe that is what grounds us, what connects us to each other, to the earth, to life, to nature. I’m not sure, but I have to go, because at this moment, I have to mow the grass, take out the trash, walk the dog…..

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6/18 Show MOVED to Thunderbird Cafe, Pittsburgh PA

Due to high volume advanced ticket sales (thanks everyone) our show on June 18th at Pittsburgh’s James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy has been moved to a larger venue, the Thunderbird cafe on Butler Street. All tickets sold to this point will be honored. Here is the ticket sales link if you’re interested in coming: Let’s do some real Grow’d Man Rock n’ Roll!! https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1149693
Thanks again, guys!

-Charlie

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Rewind Review by The Aquarian Weekly

The Charlie Wheeler Band’s self-released Rewind is a change-up for the Pennsylvania jam band. Gone is the standard blues-rock format in exchange for a more free-flowing fountain of rock ‘n’ roll ideas akin to, say, Gov’t Mule or The Black Crowes. Production is at a minimum and the focus is on composition, vocals and the unerring interaction between singer/songwriter Wheeler, bassist Dave Fink and drummer Rad Akers. Hey, I’m starting to find some good rock ‘n’ roll again after almost giving up!

Review by Mike Greenblatt

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Rewind Review by Rudolfs Music

“What an outstanding blues-rock album this is! The tone is being set from the first note. The band work themselves into a sweat from that first note. Charlie Wheeler is ultimately convincing, both as a guitar player and as a singer.

Then add the fixed driving force of the rhythm-section (Dave Fink on bass and Rad Akers behind drums) and the sum of its parts is “Rewind”. The groove on the album reminds you of a combination of The Black Crowes and The Allman Brothers with a pinch of Pearl Jam. Nevertheless the band succeeds in presenting a unique sound. The lyrics show substance and depth; each song tells a story. “Making love in the afternoon” is a perfect example of a song to which many people can relate. In my opinion this third album of Charlie Wheeler [Band] truly deserves to be heard. Choice songs on this cast-iron album are “Rewind” and “Lady Luck”.”

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Rewind Review by BluesRockReview.com

“The Charlie Wheeler [Band] exudes a toughness and desperation that can only be cultivated in the working class, unforgiving hills of of northern, PA, from which they hail. On their latest CD Rewind, they sport a driving brand of groove-rock that is reminiscent of the Black Crowes and The Allman Brothers Band, coupled with the blunt force of post grunge hard rock. Powered by the rhythm section of Rad Akers on drums and Dave Fink on bass, Charlie Wheeler describes his trio as a “song first” type of band. While expansive, improvisational jamming is a key component to their live show, Rewind (their third album) is a solid group of structured songs which allow Wheeler to tear into his vocal and lead guitar work with reckless, pent up hostility.

Rewind, uses a much more basic approach than Charlie’s previous CDs. Relying solely on bass, guitar, drums and vocals, Wheeler, along with producer and engineer Anthony Brown opted to make an album with “more mud on your boots and grit on your hands,” as Wheeler states. Wheeler’s guitar work is aggressive and in the pocket and always serves the song. He has a great mix of chops and soul, but it’s his voice that will get most people’s attention. There is attitude in his delivery that you just don’t hear that much in this genre. It’s conversational but the conversation always has a hint of “go f**k yourself”. Imagine Joe Strummer or Mike Ness singing the blues and you’re getting close.

While Charlie is a great guitarist and vocalist what really makes Rewind work is the song-writing. Strip away the crushing rhythm section, smoking guitar work, snarling vocals and we are left with a set of very beautiful and touching songs. From the tough, woman done me wrong of the opening track “Love Letter” to the sardonic humor of “Semi Good Lookin’,” Charlie introduces us to a cast of very memorable characters. “Makin Love in the Afternoon” tells the story of a couple who’s Facebook relationship status would mostly likely read “It’s Complicated.” He muses about mortality and human frailty in “The Ghost of Who You Were”, and while his lyrics may put a lump in your throat, the music always says, “get up off your ass and deal with it!” There is no shortage of muscle on this album. Wheeler’s guitar work and the band’s incessant grooving perfectly compliment the solid song-writing. Rewind will have you rocking hard and driving way too fast while you contemplate, life, love and loss.”

The Review: 8.5/11

Can’t Miss Tracks
Rewind
The Ghost Of Who You Were
Lady Luck
I Like To Wander
Love Letter

The Big Hit: Love Letter

Review by Lou Lombardi

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Rewind Review by Blues Matters Magazine

There are so many sound-alike young-generation type acts nowadays that it is very difficult to find a band that has the honesty and determination to put a new slant on things. Maybe these three have done just that with their take on blues-rock, with added rhythm and attacking vocals by Char1ie Wheeler, an awesome bass guitarist Dave Fink, and solid drummer Rad Akers. On this their third and best release, their first two releases were as a five piece outfit, but they are confident as a trio, bold and brash as the opening bars of bass infused Love Letter proves a taste of things to come. Produced and engineered by Anthony Brown, this is high-octane stuff. Title track is a particular pleaser, laid back infectious lyrics with downtown Southern style beat. Lead vocals are solid aggressive and on the Ghost Of Who You Were sardonic and sneering about growing old and reflecting on life generally very poignant, with snarling guitar work Makin Love In The Afternoon takes a funky groove on with notes of a difficult relationship this has a lazy guitar riff and soft vocals. I Like To Wander is a bit pedestrian compared to the driving guitar solo on Rivers Gonna Rise and swaggering vocals by a confident songwriter who wrote all twelve songs. The final track So Glad To Be Here is steady rolling consistent with flow of release definitely fills a niche in solid rock music.

Review by Colin Campbell

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Interview with Live Music News and Review

Recently LMNR caught-up with the Charlie Wheeler Band. The blues rock trio delivers rippin’ guitar jams that make their bad-ass live shows a high energy experience where fans party hard all night long. Hailing from a small town called Ridgway, PA, the Charlie Wheeler Band exudes a toughness that can only be cultivated in the working class environs from which they’ve emerged. The band’s hard-driving brand of blues-infused Rock and Roll is reminiscent of the Black Crowes and The Allman Brothers Band, coupled with the blunt force of Pearl Jam. With lyrics that can at times be light, heavy, deep, and even funny, the band’s songs tell stories of life, love, and living life on the edge.

Interview
LMNR: How did the band come to be?
CWB: Originally, back in ’08, I thought I had some decent tunes written. I decided I wanted to make a proper album and I hooked up with Graphite Studios in Warren, PA. I wasn’t singing much at the time so we enlisted a great friend and conspirator, Greek Cheronis to sing on the first 2 albums and play harmonica. The band took a break and when we restarted, we pared down to a three piece. It felt like a more natural fit. So the band was born out of the studio and started morphing into a more open style.

LMNR: Is this the original line-up?
CWB: This is not the original lineup, but with Dave Fink on Bass and Rad Akers on Drums, it’s definitely the most aggressive and adventurous combo. They’ll try anything once. It’s really fun because when we try something and it works, it goes right into the repertoire.

LMNR: Can you give a brief description of what your music is like?
CWB: We are a Jam Band, wrapped around a Blues Band, surrounded by a funk band, infused with strong songs and solid lyrical content. I like melody and I like lyrics that make sense to the listener. I try to write lyrics that a listener can dig, understand and sing along to.

LMNR: How does living in PA influence your lyrics and music?
CWB: Well, first of all, we are from western, PA. It has it’s own culture in Pittsburgh, it’s like living in a bubble. It exudes a real, tangible blue collar essence. It’s where people make forgings and steel. It is cold in the winter. It has an edge that is tough and can be quite unforgiving at times. But it also makes the people here a family. If you can survive here, you can survive anywhere.

LMNR: And what about touring? Has touring made an impact on your style and music?
CWB: Touring has certainly made us a better, tighter band. We show up to our gigs and whether it is 100 or 1000 people, we try to leave an indelible mark on people with our show. We don’t ever hold back. Not one bit.

LMNR: What makes your music/band unique?
CWB: I think it’s the songs and the intensity of our live performance. The people who follow us and love us know every word. They sing along. They holler out requests. And then its an interesting blend of musicians, from Dave on the bass who plays everything from his church band to jam band, to Rad on drums who played in JamGrass band Big Leg Emma (but his first love is progressive rock) to myself, Charlie, who is always starting with the blues and then has lyrical influences of everyone from Robert Hunter, Bob Dylan, Springsteen and Neil Young. As a kid, one of my early memories is watching Springsteen do Rosalita live, maybe at No Nukes or one of those big shows. His commitment, passion was so inspiring to me. Sometimes I feel that overcome while in performance, but the knee slides he does? Sorry, I can’t pull those off.

LMNR: Tell us about your latest album. How did it come about? How is this album different from your others?
CWB: The latest album is due to be released this summer some time. I went through a terrible writer’s block in 2014. It was really hard. I had to really simplify certain aspects of my life. Then this great flood rushed out and onto paper. We’ve recorded some great stuff. The difference between Highway Run and Line Em Up (the first two albums) and Rewind and the new album, (which will be called Blues, Karma and the Kitchen Sink), is night and day. Vocally the last two have CW on vocals, we are a three piece and we tried to stay as close to a 3 piece as we could.

LMNR: What does your creative process look like?
CWB: The creative force always seems to start with a really solid vocal hook. I don’t think a song fits my band and my life really, unless there is a story to be told. I like telling stories about smoky bar rooms at closing time, about the human toll after a natural disaster, or the human inclination to sin. Rarely do I wax on about a personal experience. But it has to have that lyrical line that people hear and want to sing.

LMNR: How did recording go?
CWB: As always, Anthony Brown at Graphite Studios (master engineer and co-producer) and I clicked in the studio. We are great, great friends and we can almost read each others minds in the studio. We do have different taste in music, and I think that actually helps. Four albums later, we are still cranking out some really great quality recordings.

LMNR: If you had one original song to choose for new listeners to get into your music, what would it be?
CWB: I would have to say Love Letter, the opening song on Rewind Why? It’s just a fun song and it tells a lot about our life band’s performance. It’s not the most advanced lyrically, but it is a smokin groove and a tale of love lost. Who can’t relate to that?

LMNR: What artists or bands have inspired you guys?
CWB: Other than the lyrical guys mentioned earlier, we really vibe on bands like the Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule, Trucks Tedeschi because of their intensity and their thoughtful lyrics.

LMNR: Do you have a favorite musician or band that you like to cover?
CWB: It seems like we cover a lot of CSNY. I don’t know why but we take their beautiful writing and arranging and “Wheelify” it.

LMNR: How do you make the covers more your own style?
CWB: In a word, we add tension to the song. We’ll take CSNY’s Almost Cut My Hair and just rock the snot out of it.

LMNR: How is the tour going?
CWB: All of this playing is making us connect as a band on a cellular level. So the touring has been really fun. We get along so well with the band and crew that we just crack ourselves up on the ride between shows.

LMNR: Any particular shows you are looking forward to playing? Why?
CWB: We are pumped for the Navy Pier on August 20th in Chicago. We’ve never been in Chicago to play. The last time I was there was for the Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well shows. The city is just full of possibilities. And I’m sure that the blues crowd in Chicago will dig us.

LMNR: What are your fans like? How do they influence your music?
CWB: Our fans are educated music listeners. They don’t take there taste in music lightly. It’s not background music. They listen to Phish, the Dead, Widespread Panic and bands like that. They have discerning taste. They influence us because we have a strict “no filler” policy on our albums. Nobody likes an album where the fist 3 tunes crush and the rest of it makes you apathetically shrug your shoulders. I really make an effort to keep the quality consistent throughout each album.

LMNR: Any last thoughts you’d like to add?
CWB: Dave, Rad and I would like to see you at a show and would love to meet you online or in person. This band is based in keeping things as real as possible. Being present in the moment. Keeping grounded. The people who help us do that are our fans.

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