Webb Wilder: A Rough and Tumble Guy

By Spotlight Central. Photos by Love Imagery

I got a song that I can sing. I got a guitar, I can make it ring… and I’ll be rockin’ ’til the day I die. I’m a rough and tumble guy. — Webb Wilder

Mississippi singer, guitarist, songwriter, and movie actor, Webb Wilder, hit the stage and came out swinging for his live concert showcase on Friday, May 13, 2016 at The Strand Theater in Lakewood, NJ. Currently on a world tour with stops in Spain, Sweden, and the UK, Wilder’s latest concert in NJ precedes additional shows in the US including concert venues in Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Nashville.

Born John Webb McMurry, Wilder created a character early in his career known as “Webb Wilder” for a short film about a backwoods private detective from the 1950s who also happened to be a musician. With that persona, Wilder has gone on to become a cult hero to fans of both music and movies alike.

In terms of his film credits, Wilder, 61, is probably best-known for his role of “Ned” in Peter Bogdonovich’s 1993 film, The Thing Called Love, also starring Sandra Bullock and River Phoenix.

As a musician, with groups like The Drapes, The Beatnecks, and the Nashvegans, Wilder has spent the last few decades creating an engaging style of music which mixes rock ‘n roll with the surf guitar twang of Duane Eddy and also draws heavily on the feel of blues, R&B, and country/rockabilly.

Celebrating 30 years since the original release of his first album, 1986’s It Came From Nashville!, Wilder’s even been inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame alongside the likes of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, Sam Cooke, Jimmy Buffet, and more.

At The Strand, Wilder impressed the audience with highlights from his musical career including tunes such as the Jerry Lee Lewis-esque “Human Cannonball” from his 1989 recording, Hybrid Vigor.

He also shared stories revealing how his life has influenced his songwriting, about which Wilder recently said, “It’s a journey, and one thing I’ve learned about myself is that I haven’t grown up. The good news is I’m a musician. The bad news is I’m a musician.”

To the devoted fans assembled at this Strand Theater exclusive “Backstage Pass” event — a program where both the performers and the audience are situated on the stage, making for a unique and intimate gathering in the theatre — Wilder also performed selections from his classic 1986 album, It Came from Nashville!, including the rhythmic and rollicking “Poolside” in addition to standouts like “Carryin’ the News to Mary” from 1996’s Acres of Suede and Every Day (I Kick Myself)” from 2008’s Doo Dad.

Wilder also treated the crowd to a selection of tunes from his latest CD, 2016’s Mississippi Moderne, recently referred to as a “swampadelic” album filled with “Wilder-ized wisdom, bluster, and mayhem.” Breakout songs from Moderne included the up-tempo and bluesy “If It Ain’t Broke (Don’t Fix It),” the screaming 60s barnburner “Yard Dog,” and the infectious retro-rocker “Rough and Tumble Guy.”

Near the conclusion of a great evening of music, Wilder also shared with the devoted faithful at The Strand the words of his well-known (to many in this audience!) credo: “Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big… and wear glasses if you need ‘em.”

Yup, Webb Wilder is certainly one “Rough and Tumble Guy.”

For more information on Webb Wilder’s current tour, music, and more, please go to webbwilder.com. For more on future performances at The Strand Theater — including Shadows of the 60s: A Tribute to Motown’s Supergroups on September 17, 2016 — be sure to check out strand.org.

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