In today’s new acoustic music scene, only one band delivers the urgency of rock-n-roll using the simple tools of American roots: The Wilders. Celebrating its 15-year anniversary in 2011, this internationally touring band receives critical acclaim throughout North America and Europe for its unpredictable, energizing live performances and award-winning studio recordings. The Wilders’ sound is defined by an insurgent rhythm, soulful musicality, close harmony, and an intangible chemistry forged from years of performing together.
Both on stage and in the recording studio, the Wilders stay true to the old-time and bluegrass traditions, and infuse them with the unique, often hair-raising energy that has become their namesake. Initially, the band cut its teeth on the classics of Americana and bluegrass, performing spirited resurrections of tunes from honky-tonk heroes like Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell, Jimmie Rodgers, and Roy Acuff and the Skillet Lickers. Over time, The Wilders’ sound has expanded, embracing greater individual expression and originality, as the band members have grown and matured together.
The Wilders are made up of four fiery and wildly inventive musicians. Ike Sheldon handles lead vocals, guitar, and is the Master of Ceremonies; Betse Ellis exhilarates audiences with her bow-hair-destroying fiddle work; Nate Gawron simultaneously drives and grounds the group on bass; and Phil Wade adds the flavor by swapping between dobro, mandolin, and banjo. It’s not uncommon for a listener to mistakenly assume there’s a fifth member of the band on drums; The Wilders call this phenomenon the “Phantom Drummer,” a testament to the rhythmic energy and hard-driving beat of this four-piece string band.
The Wilders have played to audiences across the US and beyond, leaving delighted and exhausted crowds in their wake. In 2006, The Wilders were selected to perform at the Famous Spiegeltent at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where they were honored with the Herald Angel Award; additionally, they’ve made appearances at Merlefest, Wintergrass, Rockygrass, and Telluride festivals. In the summer of 2002, the band was featured with singer/songwriter Iris DeMent on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” and a few years later performed live at the Kennedy Center. Their radio and television appearances range from National Public Radio’s Weekend Morning Edition, to appearances on the PBS syndicated show “Song of the Mountains,” and music specials on BBC television.
This Old Town
Ike Sheldon wrote this song about being on the road and all of the places he has been all over the world.
I wish I could find the lyrics to this song — I sent them an email to see if they will send them to me.
- Audio from the 2011 album, The Wilders: