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Pete Wilke - Down From Montana  
By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

Who said lawyers donít have a sense of humor? Pete Wilke, who pays the bills using his law degree, and fuels his creative passions with country music, hits the funny bone early with the opening lines to geographical homage in the liner notes to Down From Montana.

"I wasnít born or raised in Montana, "tells the legal adviser to independent film-makers. "I probably wonít die there either, unless I go pheasant hunting with Dick Cheney."

Well, that had me laughing.

And Wilkeís album made me think.

For a guy whoís sartorially regal, prim and proper, oozing syllable rich from his legal web site (www.pwilkeindieatty.com), Down From Montana offers distance from the faÁade and gristle of law. The gavelís gone, replaced with a guitar. The Armani suit flung for worn Wranglers. And cold legalities come replaced with a mateís view of life and love, all shared with mellow honesty. Itís a personality revelation Wilke morphs into easily.

The album only took one play to grab my attention. It only took two plays to hook me. And with only three plays my early advice is obvious Ė this oneís a keeper. Wilke is a singer of substance. Heís lyrically sound, offering common and honest insights into cracked lives, losers with big thirsts, and the steady comfort of worn and reliable boots. He may be corporate, but his cowboy heart beats loud.

Move beyond the opening track, a respectful rural nod to Montana, where Wilke defies the grammatical with "counteereeeeeee" as a lyric (it rivals Reba for fractured vowels) and you soon hit music he calls brown grass. He calls it traditional country with a twist.

"The Fool Has Struck Again", where a tongue-tied male offends rather than comforts, is sure-fire radio fodder. With Wilkeís Down From Montana Band, a neat and tight five piece combo with a leaning to fiddle and steel, the tune brings band, singer and writer well into the spotlight. But rather than Wilke being a dud with an album of only one, possibly two repeat tracks, the surprise comes when you hear tunes like "Barstool Cowboy".

Misery loves company and this tune, fiddle propped and harmony rich, tells of a loner, lost and brooding, down on his luck and looking for acceptance with strangers. Itís sad. But look out into the crowd on any Saturday night anywhere and youíll see the lonely, fingering an empty glass. A refill would be nice. A friend would be better.

"Iíd Already Taken The Fall" and "Iíll Never Stop Crying" are hurtin and achiní fare, while "My Hornback Cowboy Boots" (an album standout) tells of the losing side of life for a guy whoís ducking and weaving, saving his sanity with the only thing of which heís certain Ė his old hornback cowboy boots. And reflective thoughts are passed on down, as a dad ponders aloud to his kid: "I donít know what I will do/ When you move away/ Could we pause and savor this/ Maybe you could grow up/ Some other day..." Again, Wilke brings style, honesty, and a depth in his voice and lyric that warms and wins.

We came in asking who said lawyers donít have a sense of humor. On the closing cut, Sweet Talkiní Man", Wilke proves he has...or heís brave. "Get offa my back and roll onto yours/ I donít wanna hear about me doiní no chores/ Take the young Ďuns to school/ Fry me some eggs/ Get in the bathroom /Start shaviní your legs..." Itís a party tune, has to be, right?

For a late in the year arrival, Pete Wilke, the corporate cowboy, has found himself on my most played list. He sings in a mellow, unobtrusive way; he writes in the understood language of the working man and his melodies are made for campfires.

His board meetings must be fun.


Click on the CD cover to order yours!
1. Down From Montana
2. The Fool Has Struck Again
3. Show Me the Way
4. Barstool Cowboy
5. I'd Already Taken the Fall
6. I'll Never Stop Crying
7. My Hornback Cowboy Boots
8. Don't Grow Up Too Fast
9. Locked Up in the Big Sky
10. Sea-tac Airport Nightmare
11. Just to Help the Moment Pass
12. Sweet-talkin' Man

Related Links:
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