Brian Wheat, Charleston, SC songwriter and Buffalo, NY native has taken his time developing his unique compound of jazzy Americana that draws comparisons to timeless greats like Willie Nelson and Cake, as well as contemporaries such as Bahamas and M.Ward.
Brian's third album will be released in early 2017. "Way Down Below" combines the simpler, traditional-style writing and instrumentation of his first album “Where You Have Been” with pop arrangements of 2011’s “Looking Alive” and a delivery that reflect depth and maturity beyond that of classic Americana. “Way Down Below” was recorded, while Wheat was living in Minneapolis, MN, at Stone House Recording, Grand Rapids, MI by Peter Fox (Patrick Watson, Field Report, The Head and the Heart, Frontier Ruckus) and Northland Records, Minneapolis, MN by Chad Weis (Trampled by Turtles, Mason Jennings, Caroline Smith) and Bryan Steenerson. Additional recording was done in Buffalo, NY, Tucson, AZ, and Nashville, TN. The album features a variety of musicians as well as horn arrangements provided by members of Calexico, which add a noticeable Southwestern thread throughout. The theme of the album’s title track was inspired by Tom Robbins’ book “Villa Incognito”. Also included is a cover of “Farm in New Hampshire”, written by one of Brian's early influences, Bellingham, WA's Robert Sarazin Blake.
Wheat’s breezy melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and tasty lead guitar playing are fueled by being raised on 50's pop, classic rock and country that played as the soundtrack for a thousand family road trips. Since 2005 he has self-produced and published three albums under his own label, Half Little Hold Records, and performed everywhere from Fijian villages and Australian hostels to East coast and Midwest tours. His songwriting patiently explores human connect and disconnect with tales of unbounded love and the pain of forever searching for it. Wheat conveys a Willie Nelson-style honesty and straightforwardness in his performances. ‘Lounge’ is redeemed in a no-nonsense Rufus Wainright fashion through the rose filter of an 80’s era Austin City Limits session atop Cake-style rhythms. His songs are delivered with a wryness that is not so much funny, but more simply joyous, playful even.
The 2007 CD, “Where You Have Been”, is a collection of rootsy songs exploring themes of love and loss that were written and recorded upon his return from a brief residency in Spain. For his sophomore release, “Looking Alive” (2011), Wheat looked beyond the rural themes and acoustic nature of his debut to capture the energy of his transition to urban living. Lush string arrangements and additional layers give the album a sultry, summer morning energy. Brian continues to write and perform in regions surrounding his new home in Charleston, SC. In addition to his solo work, he continues to provide lead guitar support to Minneapolis artists David and Ryan Holweger, whom he collaborated with during his stay there.
As The Brian Wheat Band stepped on stage to sound check, the volume in the dining room grew louder. But, the volume quickly lowered once Wheat started to sing. His softly controlled voice reigned on his band’s ability to mix modern americana with a touch of jazz. Towards the end of his set, more people rose from the chairs and outside smoking spots to catch The Brian Wheat Band's long string of guitar playing and the band's simplistic yet impressive melodies.
-Do615.com, Nashville, TN
Fans of M. Ward, Bright Eyes or Colin Meloy of the Decemberists should rush to Wheats website. Wheat...has a unique voice to be thought of as their equal. His winsome looks and tailor-made name dont hurt either. Wheats[...]standouts Late Night Stroll, When We Awoke and Lovers Shouldnt Waste Their Time, [...]would be right at home on Willie Nelsons Stardust
- The Buffalo News
"Brian Wheat plays rootsy numbers with a soft croon that's better than most. Bring your lady tonight and you'll probably luck out. "
- Time Out New York
It is true, that musical talent can be learned, with long hours and hard work but in a few rare moments, music seems to be a natural given talent. [Michigan] Fans have gotten a taste of "porch swing rock" and are already craving more.
Presenting a well balanced acoustic performance with thought evoking lyrics blended with ardent musical foundations, Wheats work and fervent notion for exploration of connections shines with every note.
- The Digitel Charleston
The twinkling chords of his folk-rock melodies would be a suitable backdrop to a summertime, cross-country road trip or while sipping chardonnay on a back patio. For his latest album, Wheat decided to add electronica elements for a more danceable sound.
His latest offering has that breezy early morning acoustic sound of pacific coast bands Vetiver or Band of Horses, but with the occasional touch of strings & organs that while subtle, give the album a very garmented & polished sound. Its upper class folk rock thats dressed to kill.