Reverend Billy C. Wirtz / Jeff Wall Opening
December 13, 2018 · Thursday * 7:30pm * $15 Seated / $10 Standing
Master of the 88 Key Disaster!
Reverend Billy C. Wirtz is a comic genius, gifted pianist and American musicologist who defies easy classification. “I like to think of myself as the Victor Borge of the blues,” states the Reverend, but Billy goes way beyond Borge both in scope of subject matter (from politics to social commentary) and, of course, in taste. In fact, no theme is too extreme, taboo, or undignified for the Reverend, so long as it garners a good laugh.
Goateed and copiously tattooed, he is the antithesis of anyone’s ordinary concept of a preacher. Yet, as his name implies, Billy often employs this stage persona to set the scene in a song. Like an itinerant revivalist in a carnival tent, he’ll begin slowly and gradually build to a rapid fire torrent, as if he were whipping the congregation into a frenzy. Accentuating the lyrics with wild hand gesticulations and exaggerated facial expressions, he becomes a comedian, twisted televangelist and barrel house piano player rolled into one. Just when the crowd senses that he’s about to explode in some massive spasm, he’ll compose himself and segue into a slow blues number while asking the assembled multitude to forgive him for being “overcome by the spirit.” Naturally, his fans, the “faithful,” are accustomed to this denouement and even shout “Amen” but not before egging him on to even more histrionics before that ultimate crescendo is reached. “Testify, Billy, testify,” they cry, and the Reverend Billy, gathering strength from their exhortations like a hurricane from warm waters, is always willing to accommodate them.
When Blind Pig Records approached The Reverend with the idea of filming a DVD as well as recording a live CD he was both intrigued and excited by the possibilities. The result, Sermon From Bethlehem, documents Billy at his schizophrenic best, careening nonstop through a selection of old comic favorites (“Roberta,” “Granny’s At The Wheel”, “Mennonite Surf Party”, “Grandma Versus The Crusher”) and soon-to be-classics (“Female Problems”, “Do The Toleration”, “The King and I”) as well as knocking out some of the smokinest blues and boogie woogie piano this side of Sunnyland Slim.
* portions of this biography are borrowed from Larry Benicewicz’ article “But Seriously Folks,” published in the BluesArt-Journal
Jeff Wall is the Bigdumbhick, a solo acoustic singer/songwriter/storyteller from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
He’s actually an impressive songwriter. His music has a groove, and like him, his songs are often strange and unique. One moment he will having you laughing with tears rolling down your face, with such songs as “Love Everybody and Don’t Be a Dick”, “Battery Operated Boyfriend”, and “Erectile Dysfunction Blues”, then he will turn around and kick you right in the feels with a song about being mentally ill and homeless “Drinking Whisky”, impending suicide “Out Here on the Ledge” or the loss of a spouse “Ravens and Crows”
What you see is what you get. There’s no pretense, no posturing, no bullshit. Well, maybe a little bullshit, but he’s real. He is what he is and he ain’t ashamed of it. He’s a powerful performer and is well worth checking out.