It’s nearly impossible to protect your heart from being conquered by Kansas City’s self-proclaimed “Hillbilly Riot,” The Wilders. The band pours incredible amounts of enthusiasm, skill and respect into their live performances. And their appeal is pretty far-reaching—you might catch bikers, preachers, biker-preachers, toddlers and walker-bound grannies all juking together to a Wilders barnstormer during a summer festival set.
With the release of their latest, however, loving The Wilders just became more complicated. Whereas the former albums were nostalgic—but relevant—throwbacks to the days when Roy Acuff and Buck Owens ruled the jukebox, this new release pushes the boundaries of what can be done now with what came before.
Someone’s Got to Pay contains a sort of roots-rock opera that was written by the band’s multi-instrumentalist Phil Wade as he sat on the jury of a murder trial. Guitarist/pianist Ike Sheldon sings Wade’s story and the narrative unfolds kind of like Pink Floyd’s The Wall might have come across had it been hollered from a hayloft by a coked-up Hank Sr. Whether fans are ready or not, the murder ballad has officially been electrified. Pay attention folks, this could be the first true 21st century Americana recording.
The Wilders play Big Sky Resort’s The Plaza with Jawbone Railroad, Friday, July 11, at 5:30 PM. Free