& Dave Para
Pipe & Drum Band
Big Muddy Folk Festival
April 45, 2003
Old-Time Hillbilly Collective
The WildersVisit their web site.
It often takes a village, or a city, to put a band together. I don’t see how The Wilders could have formed any other way. People cut from different cultural cloth can be stitched or thrown together in the quilt or ragbag that is a city. But Ike Sheldon, Betse Ellis, Phil Wade and Nate Gawron went through some millwork before they got to the top shelf of old-time stringbands. Musical influences can range from the sounds of a family playing and singing together to those playing on the family stereo. From Casey Kasem to Casey Jones, there is a lot to choose from, and the choices are not mutually exclusive.
So Betse studied classical violin; Ike took up opera in college. From holler and cul-de-sac, they all found themselves in Kansas City and in a variety of bands whose names stretch the mind: the Dhurries, The Secret Liquor Cure, Wig Newton, The Young Johnny Carson Story, and Foolish Sad Robot. Picture Betse and Phil seated Indian-style on a Persian carpet playing neo-ragas on violin and sitar to appreciative but confused coffeehouse patrons.
The distraction of country roots music was the most recent shuttle across the loom. “Hey, I've really been getting into old country music lately . . .sounds like you guys are headed that way, too. Can I join up with you and play some hillbilly music?"
“Heaven bless her,
She said, ‘Yes, sir!’"