|Roots and blues rock quartet, Waydown Wailers, hail from the small town of Canton in upstate New York, the borderland region on the Saint Lawrence River that the locals refer to as the “Backlands,” an area infamous for being settled by independent free-thinking people, and thus a fitting title for the band’s third album “Backland Blues.” The Wailers deliver their unique twist on the blues, they call “Outlaw Jam,” mixing influences from jam band icons the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers with touches of British invasion pop and folksy Americana and Country into a gritty, unpredictable sonic strew.
The eleven tracks on “Backland Blues” include three inspired covers and eight original songs written by the Parker brothers, David and Christian, who handle the guitar work backed by the stout rhythm section of Connor Pelkey on bass and Michael “Scruffy” Scriminger on drums.
The album opens with good old fashioned twelve bar juke joint jam ‘Back Door Woman Blues,’ with producer, “Professor Louie,” sitting in with the fellas on honky-tonk piano. Christian then rips some scorching B Bender guitar on the intro of the swamp rocker ‘I Want Your Soul, with David delivering the raspy lead vocals drawing a comparison to Johnny Winter. Scruffy then lays down a thundering jungle boogie on the toms for a reinvention of the Elmore James’ classic ‘Done Somebody Wrong.’ Parker examines the prat falls of life’s struggles on the jaunty country shuffle ‘Another Bump In The Road.’ The Wailers then dig deep in a funky boogaloo for the Deadhead groover ‘No Mercy,’ before shifting gears to lay down a spot-on version of the 1958 rock ‘n’ roll standard ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy,’ as made famous by the Fab Four.
The pastoral country stomp ‘Every Passing Mile’ features soaring dual guitar leads and tight vocal harmonies. Parker then contemplates his place in the universe on the folk rocker ‘Somewhere In The Middle’ that ramps up to a swirling jam session. The edgy minor key blues rocker about a desperate man, ‘I’m On The Hunt,’ precedes a remix of ‘State Of The Union,’ the politically-charged title track of their 2013 debut album.
Each of the Waydown Wailers gets a moment to shine on the time-shifting cover of the foreboding tale of a houngan in ‘Lover Of The Bayou.’ The deep cut from the country rock pioneers, The Byrds, is given the full Professor Louie treatment with his tenacious Hammond B3 joining in for the cinematic climax that closes the album with flair and fire.
Rick J Bowen
After years of paths crossing and performing in a succession of bands, Waydown Wailers started based on the mutual desire by all four for an original sound and songs that were different. “We wanted to be in an all original band and, together we decided to commit to a new band. We continued to work on some melodies together and arranging some music to go with some lyrical ideas that were swimming around in Dave’s head,” says WW. They are four guys carving individual niches into every nook and cranny of the music landscape and collectively producing a band that is boldly original, tunefully deep, and forever lingering. Everything they create brands the consciousness. Songs dissecting the discontented soul of a bitter land of liberty stand strong alongside ballads of aching hearts worn admirably on their sleeves.
Dave Parker’s vocals are right on, crisp and deliciously addictive. It’s his signature phrasing that hooks you fast, keeps you transfixed and in the mix. And what a mix it is with Mike Scriminger’s funk/ rock drum flare to Connor Pelkey’s eccentric bass spouting funk and world beat slaps and pops while Christian Parker is another hot-lightening picker not afraid to add his eclectic Americana style, it’s all to hell n’ back and truly defining the phrase “he’s got chops.”
After performing with New Riders of the Purple Sage in Syracuse at Westcott Theater, Scruffy was talking to NRPS, who suggested contacting their label, Woodstock Records. Live recordings were sent to Professor Louie. Songs were picked and worked on from afar and it wasn’t until the first day of recording that Waydown Wailers and Prof Louie met face to face in the studio to work on the debut album, “State Of The Union” (2013 Woodstock Records).
Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz is a seasoned live performer, prolific recording artist and talented multi-instrumentalist (Hammond B3 organ, piano/keyboards, accordion, and vocals). An award-winning recording producer and engineer, he has captured the talents of some of the world’s most highly acclaimed musicians, including Graham Parker, Commander Cody, Dave Brubeck, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, Guy Davis, Oumar Konate, and, most notably, The Band: For 15 years, Professor Louie served as co-producer, engineer and performer with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, teaming up with The Band for their last three group albums (Jericho, High on the Hog, Jubilation) and numerous solo projects for Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm.
Waydown Wailers has been the supporting act for Lady Antebellum, The Charlie Daniels Band, Devon Allman, Erica Nicole, John Anderson, Professor Louie and the Crowmatix, Jerrod Niemann, Max Creek, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Les Dudek, Young Dubliners, Spin Doctors, Blue Coupe, The Trews, Glorious Sons, Donna The Buffalo, Craig Morgan, The Mallet Brothers and Rusted Root, to name just a few.
Album #2, “Empty Promises” (2016 Woodstock Records), hit the RMR charts at #7 and other singles stayed in the top 10 and the single Whiskey & Cornbread at #33 on AMA radio charts and #17 on the International Indie Country Charts.