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The Wilders

Throw Down – 2006 (Rural Grit)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by The Wilders

Known for a foot-stomping, fiddle-shredding live show, this Kansas City quartet delivers quite the good time on its latest. Co-produced by noted Appalachian and Cajun musician Dirk Powell and the band, this is energetic with a capital "E," well-played and focused.

Appropriately, ace fiddler Betse Ellis strikes the first strokes on the opening "Hawk's Got a Chicken and Flew in the Woods," which she explains in the liner notes that she learned from a Rounder Records compilation of Ozark fiddling. Ellis, whose versatile playing is a definite highlight, also closes the album with her lovely original instrumental "January Waltz."

Lead singer and guitarist Ike Sheldon, meanwhile, has a sweet, but knowing voice that would be at home in the hills or on a hardwood floor. His subtle take on "Won't You Sometimes Think Of Me," one of two Hank Williams covers, is a stunner. Bassist Nate Gawron and multi-instrumentalist Phil Wade each penned a pair of knockout tunes in "Honky Tonk Habit" and "Together Apart." Other standouts include the topical "When the Levee's Gone" and Sheldon's sparse "When I Get to Heaven."