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Sons of Bill roll into town with RCPM

Andrew W. Griffin
Abe Wilson (keyboards) and James Wilson (guitar, vocals) are with Sons of Bill. They played the Wormy Dog on July 22, 2011.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Back in January 2010, I had the chance to
interview James Wilson, singer and guitarist with the up-and-coming alt-country
band Sons of Bill for an article in The
Norman Transcript

At the time, Wilson, along with his brothers Sam (guitar)
and Abe (keyboards), as well as bassist Seth Green and drummer Todd Wellons
(Bill is the dad of the Wilson brothers), were preparing for their first gig in
Oklahoma shortly after the release of their last album, One Town Away.

Based in Charlottesville, Va., the college town where Dave
Matthews Band got their start, Sons of Bill came out of a family steeped in
old-timey bluegrass sounds. And while the brothers appreciate their Virginia bluegrass
roots, seeing a Sons of Bill show, as I did this past weekend at the Wormy Dog
Saloon, here in Oklahoma City, this quintet is really rockin’ at its core.

First, they opened up for one of my favorite acts out there –
Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers. I wasn’t able to stay for the entire RCPM
show, but I have to say that those guys have more energy and excitement than
most younger bands out there. Clyne and the boys are touring on the heels of
the swell, new disc Unida Cantina, which
I reviewed last month, here at Red Dirt
. I love the summer-lovin’ single “Heaven on a Paper Plate,” which RCPM
performed this particular night.

Anyway, back to Sons of Bill. These guys have been making
the rounds, currently on a Midwest leg of a tour that has brought them a couple
thousand miles into the Heartland and out West.

Among the great songs I got to hear this night was “Roll On
Jordan,” a song requested by a fan (there were a few in the crowd).
Singer/guitarist James Wilson wrote this terrific, gospel-inspired rocker with
one of the best choruses going:

“Hey, ho, let it go/
you’re either gonna die young or you live to grow old / Go down to the river
where the waters flow / And like a southbound train it’s gonna lead you home /
And let that Bible Belt holy roll, I got a Baptist choir singing in my soul /
Singing roll on Jordan roll / Still singing roll on Jordan roll / Roll on

There’s a big-tent revival feel to it. These Sons of Bill mixed
harder songs and a few slower, Southern-tinged ballads. And that’s the thing I
can relate to – their Southern-ness. Having gone to college hearing alt-rock bands
mainly from the Southeast – (think Beanland, The Connells, Dillon Fence, etc.) –
and then mixing in the country and folk elements, as SoB has, and I think you
have an authentic combination. I know it was certainly appealing to hear them
live after having missed them after their previous visit(s).

And when James Wilson introduced a song as being by “a
little band from Athens, Georgia,” hearing the opening chords to R.E.M.’s “Radio
Free Europe” was a real treat. Note-for-note perfect. Especially bassist Green.
He had those Mike Mills chords down.

Am looking forward to SoB’s return visit to Oklahoma City
someday. In the meantime the boys are working on a new album back in Virginia
with Cracker / Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery. SoB will be in good
hands with Lowery, a guy with grit, integrity and loads of humor and musical
insight. In fact, the only show your Red Dirt Reporter has ever been thrown out
of was a Cracker show, back in 1994 on their “Kerosene Hat Tour” when I was
scraping by up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ahhh, memories.

So, find out more about Sons of Bill at, like ‘em on Facebook
and tell ‘em the Red Dirt Reporter sent you their way. You’ll thank me.

Copyright 2011 West
Marie Media

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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