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Music that Can’t Be Tied Down:

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Wolfe Gange
Fri., 4/29 • doors 8 p.m. • $3
The Rusty Nail
1310 S. 5th Ave. • 251-1888

FREE-RANGE MUSIC: Wolfe Gang plays it all, from classic rock ‘n’ roll to covers of reggae king Bob Marley. Courtesy photo.

With age comes wisdom; not just toward life but in music. One listen to Wolfe Gang’s debut CD, “Read the Fine Print” will prove such is true. This group of seasoned musicians play blues, folk, and reggae, with electrifying rock ‘n’ roll awakening their concise musicality with youthful appeal. They’ll be bringing it The Rusty Nail on Friday night for all to hear.

Wolfe Gang’s sound is nothing shy of uplifting, inviting people to move to its grooves and get lost in its soul. “First to Go” offers a Creedence Clearwater Revival homage, beginning with a fast, steady rhythm and strong bass guitar, as lead singer Michael Wolfe’s baritone vocals add to the catchy hook:

“Mother Nature’s doin’ her own thing / Laughin’ while we try to run the show / She might seem to suffer at our hands / But brother you and I’ll be the first to go.”

Other songs, like “Another Sunday Morning,” are reminiscent of Steely Dan and Eric Clapton, while an impressive rendition of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” rounds off the album on an excellent and unexpected note.

Music has always been a huge influence in Wolfe’s life. Growing up in Mississippi, his appreciation stemmed from listening to his father sing.

“He knew many great old folk songs, all kinds of songs, sea-chanteys and spirituals and ballads and work songs and marching songs—real folk songs,” Wolfe says. “I don’t know where he learned them all. He had a great voice and could make you feel a song. I’m sure that’s where I came by my feeling for music.”

Wolfe’s move to Louisiana was inspired by its music scene. It contributed to his desire to play. He traversed many bands, but eventually met up with Gene Carmen (drums) and Robb Harrington (bass/back-up vocals) after a 2002 music hiatus, when he lived in Wales. Carmen and Harrington had previously met and even endured a deep friendship unbeknownst to Wolfe. Such a surprise only contributed to the band’s solid sound.
“So, right there, the ‘wavelength’ problem in the rhythm section was taken care of,” Wolfe says. “What I mean is, sometimes it takes a long time for a bass player and drummer to learn to communicate and to work together. But Robb and Gene had worked all that out between them long before I met them! I really can’t tell you how much easier it makes it for me. So, after a few songs on that very first day, we sort of paused and looked at each other with big smiles, and we all knew something special was going on.”

That magic is felt among every solid track on the CD. Though he has never been a fan of pigeonholing the band to one strict style, Wolfe definitely defies corporate music stereotypes. “When you go to list your band on a music site or something like that, you have to choose one, or at the most, two styles or genres [to classify the sound],” he says. “I reject that, because we play a whole lot of different kinds of music.”

The back of “Read the Fine Print” carries a small green label, resembling a notice similar to something that would be found on a carton of organic eggs. Only it says: “Free Range Music: Organic.” It symbolizes what they hope to convey.

“I like music that is handmade,” Wolfe says. “I don’t like music that has a lot of drum tracks or electronic beats. The organic part represents the handmade, personal approach and the free-range shows [in which] we’ll pick any song to play.”

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