The Brook, Southampton

John Wheeler

In a partially filled Brook there are a number of chairs and tables scattered about giving a rather sophisticated feel to the usual evening that I spend here. And even more interesting considering who the audience are here for. Do any of them keep poop in a jar?

Tonight’s entertainment is by a talented individual who usually goes by the moniker of Barley Scotch when fronting his blue-grass band Hayseed Dixie, and I assume that this is how most of the people here know of Barley Scotch, aka John Wheeler.

The draw for me tonight was not only owning a few Hayseed Dixie albums, but I thoroughly enjoyed his first solo album, “Un-American Gothic” – with a cover tipping more than an ironic wink to Grant Wood. Having heard John Wheeler
John Wheeler 123

After the first few tracks the audience has warmed up, the banter and stories start, and it is from this point onwards the evening becomes even more special, dare I say intimate. As John tells us that he loves his career choice, but be does not want to play the same songs forever. And the ability to do the solo albums and tour allows him that luxury.

Not to mention the tales of personal crisis and existential issues. All of which point to John probably being one of the most content people I have ever seen, with every story being delivered humorously. Especially the travel tips for anyone planning on visiting Nashville Dickerson Pike, or listening to non-Anglo music in foreign countries.

Every track played is delivered expertly, and takes on a different feel as you hear the stories behind them. Not to mention the inherent humour in some of those tracks. In between the humour there are tracks which have more than an ounce of seriousness; “Deeper In Debt”, and “Walk Between The Raindrops”.

The stories continue with how John writes his songs, or how difficult it is to write while on tour. Leading to how “Difficult Number 2 album” was born while on a trip to Nashville last year. Along with a tale of how the song “Uncle Virgil” came about, and the experience of driving across Kansas.

Just to add to the intimate feel of the evening for those prepared to wait a few minutes John took to the floor for a chat to each table and cluster in the audience. Throwing even more depth to the evening discussing music and live shows.

John Wheeler
John Wheeler 123

Taking his music in any direction he feels is appropriate, showing his versatility, the evening blended nicely tracks from his first solo album, the Hayseed Back catalogue, and an indication of what to expect from his latest album (which by the way is terrific, but might not be what you expect!).

For an evening of original music with humour and stories this cannot be beaten. It always surprises me when you see a few musicians producing a very large sound. Tonight had two blokes on acoustic instruments producing a large thumping sound with power.

…I look forward to hearing Beat The Meatles.

Set List
Doomsday Dance
Alien Abduction Probe
Before Your Old Man Gets Home
Didn’t Wake Up This Morning
If You Ain’t Thinking About Me
Moonshiner’s Daughter
Something I Don’t See
Uncle Virgil
Born To Die In France
Set Myself On Fire
Nicotine & Alcohol
Deeper In Debt
Everything I’ve Got Coming
I’m Keeping Your Poop
Too Much Poop To Flush
Last Call
You Can Always Leave Town
Walk Between The Raindrops
She Was Skinny When I Met Her


Words and pictures by Jon Musselwhite.

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