Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stephen Douglas Wolfe's We'll Live on 45rpm 7" Single

This record sounds way too good for a guy who's playing at the chicken-and-waffles joint around the corner. Wait, there's more to the story than that.

First, let's go back to LRS Records here in Syracuse. We hooked up with Mark Turley and Nicholas Oliver a few weeks back for the Taste of Syracuse event--I was at the Newport Show at the time, but I was there in spirit. I wound up talking about LRS Records in my last Vinyl Anachronist column for Perfect Sound Forever, and they hooked me up with some tasty vinyl from local Syracuse bands.

A couple of weeks later, I received a visit from more strangers bearing gifts of vinyl--Jen Bort from bettyElm Records (awesome name for a label if you're a David Lynch fan) and Ulf Oesterle from Aux Records. I bored them with tales of my vinyl dedication and expertise and they quickly dropped off armloads of vinyl and backed away cautiously. It's taken me a few weeks to begin my assault on the pile, although I did give everything a quick run-through after Jen and Ulm left. While I really dig most of it, one thing stood out--a 45rpm single from a singer-songwriter named Stephen Douglas Wolfe.

Wolfe has an easy-going, earnest style that occupies that middle ground between folk and Americana--perhaps it's more connected with California country-rock from the '70s. It's mellow yet filled with longing, with catchy melodies and tight musical performances. On these two songs, "We'll Live" and "Wake Up," Wolfe sounds like someone who has been playing stuff like this for years. That doesn't mean over-rehearsed or bland, obviously, it means this guy really inhabits these two songs with every ounce of his being and he's deeply familiar with every note. These songs obviously mean something to him, and that adds another layer of depth. This ain't your daddy's old Seals and Croft albums.

Previously, Wolfe played in two bands--Getaway Driver and Cavaliers. This single is part of a series he's releasing through his pretty nifty website. He's charging $10 for this 7" single, but it's beautifully packaged and it sounds fantastic. It's easily worth it.

As for the comment about the chicken-and-waffles joint? I'm talking about Funk N' Waffles, of course, a true destination in the city of Syracuse. Not only do they serve amazing waffles in both sweet and savory versions, but they're also one of the most popular venues for local Syracuse performers. LRS Records has been promoting a series of shows there every Wednesday in June, and once or twice I've seen Stephen Douglas Wolfe's name on the bill. So I'm thinking about getting some waffles--I like the whole grain ones covered in fresh blueberries--and watching a very intriguing local musician in action.

Now to start digging around deeper in this pile o' music...

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