Dear The Wilson Pickers,
I think you suck. You wouldn't know a hot flatpicked double-stop lick if it bit you on the behind. You young kids think that just because you can sing a bit, you can pick up a banjo and a fiddle and call it bluegrass. Real bluegrass is about tradition and technical perfection. Do us all a favour and go listen to some Flatt and Scruggs!
Dear Bob Sizzlefingers,
Thank you so much for your note. We are humbled that a man as evidently erudite as yourself would grant our music such earnest consideration. It might interest you to know that we have never considered ourselves traditionalists nor revivalists. We're not even really a bluegrass band (though the boys sure love Flatt and Scruggs - you should hear us let fly on 'Salty Dog Blues').
There might be some truth in the hearsay that our first show was played immediately following a 16-hour all-night recording session, which was the first time the five of us had all played together. And, sure, attempting to record our debut album in just two days was a little ambitious in hindsight, particularly with one band member missing and another critically ill.
See, The Wilson Pickers was formed as a fun side-project - we're all songwriters and all have solo careers or play in other bands and the Pickers was always intended as an enjoyable break from our 'main' careers. Just acoustic instruments (no guitar amps or drumkit to lug in!) and five mates all throwing in songs and ideas and, man, five-part harmonies! To be able to sing those harmonies on stage is just addictive.
Without appearing conceited, we'd like to point out that our audiences seem to be enjoying themselves as much as we are. You should see them smiling and dancing, Bob, er, Mr Sizzlefingers. Our very first album was nominated for an ARIA Award, and got played all over the radio, we got to play festivals like Bluesfest and Port Fairy and Woodford.
Even those Tamworth folk love us, and they know their country music! Anyway, the heartening response to our music has prompted us to take things a little more seriously. We think you'll be impressed, Mr Sizzlefingers, by the diligence with which we approached our new record, Shake It Down. We were able to write songs specifically for the band this time. All five of us contributed to the writing and we were so pleased with the results, we booked a real studio, Junkship Records, and a real engineer, Jamie Trevaskis, who had some beautiful vintage ribbon microphones. Yes, we admit, we still tracked the whole thing live in the one room… but we spent more than two days doing it this time! We even had it mastered by a fella named Hank Williams! In Nashville!!
Surely even a man of your refinement will be impressed by the banjo (Ben Salter) and fiddle (John Bedggood) licks in opening number “Return To The Land Of The Powerful Owl'! And we may not be purists, but come on, 'Shake It Down' is a great bluegrass song (and what about Sime Nugent's harmonica!?) Oh and how can you resist the sweet slow swing of Bedgey's fiddle in 'Bedgey's Lament'? Or the old Memphis rockabilly riffs on 'Beholden'? That Danny Widdicombe is quite a guitarist, huh? And who needs a rhythm section when you have Andrew Morris's six-string-strumming holding everything together?
There's more banjo, more fiddle, more harmonies, better songs – what's not to like? So please, Mr Sizzlefingers, we beg you to place Shake It Down into your vintage audiophile hi-fi equipment and give it a chance. We sincerely hope that you will at least enjoy the song craftsmanship and spirit with which it was produced.
And if not, kindly take your hot licks and shove 'em.
The Wilson Pickers.
Just the Facts
If you listen to the second Wilson Pickers' LP, Shake It Down. You will enjoy it immeasurably.
The Wilson Pickers play banjo, fiddle, harmonica and acoustic guitar-based songs that draw on bluegrass, folk, country and lots of other things.
The band is made up of: Victorians Sime Nugent (harmonica/vocals) and John Bedggood (fiddle/mandolin/vocals, and Queenslanders Danny Widdicombe (guitar/vocals), Ben Salter (banjo/vocals), and Andrew Morris (guitar/vocals). All have successful music careers outside of the Pickers. All of them can sing better than you.
The Wilson Pickers' debut Land Of The Powerful Owl was nominated for an ARIA Award in the Best Blues & Roots Album category in 2009.
The band's uplifting show has been warmly welcomed at Byron Bluesfest, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Apollo Bay Festival, Queenscliff, Woodford and Tamworth. It has also allowed them to conduct a number of successful national headline tours.