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Bill Wence - Songs From The Rocky Fork Tavern  
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

“My son, Kris, built me a small cabin in the woods not far from the house. I call it “The Rocky Fork Tavern” and it has a jukebox…piano…fridge…no phone…all of the right ingredients to write a song – or at least give it a try.”  
Liner notes: Bill Wence

“There are some fine songs here. Bill is a good writer…and some great playing. This is a testament that no matter what your age, if you are an artist, your imagination and your desire to create never dies…” 
Liner notes: James Talley

Bill Wence knows music. He knows how to write it, play it, and as a large part of his life proves, he knows how to promote it. Over the last almost 30 years, Bill Wence has been an industry promoter, pushing and pulling some of country’s biggest names to chart prominence. But his passion for music started way before that. As his web site reveals, the young entrepreneur, someone who in later life would become one of the top five genre promoters to radio, started as a kid saving dollars from a job in lettuce fields to buy a tape recorder. That Wolensak recorder became a vital part of the music– Bill Wence’s music. That childhood passion and imagination has fuelled a life of realized musical achievement that has seen Wence write, perform and promote some of the biggest names in country music. 

Now years on with little to prove, Bill Wence makes music that may miss the mainstream mark, but it’s music that’s easy, emotive and enjoyable. With a voice more Joe Sun (for those who remember) than George Strait, Wence shows he can write a meaningful tune by penning eight of the 12 cuts on the album out on 615 Records. Supported by some rich harmony vocals including The Jordanaires, Sisters Morales, John Wesley Ryles and Becky Hobbs, alongside some gifted players including Charlie McCoy, Rob Hajacos, Byrd Burton to name a few, the album drifts easily between soft rockers and tempered heartache.

“Angelene” opens the album. Telling of a guy with his “future in the past”, the track is an easy rocked torment about losing and leaving. More ache and reflection plays out on “What Do You Think About Me and You”. “Honky Tonk Heartache” tells of familiar fare: heartache eased with music, the country kind, and “another beer, it’s a glass of cheer”. The piano-led “Old Rock And Roller” is a pensive looking back at just how fast time moves. When Wence shares his penned memories of the boy from Memphis, forty-fives, and harder but simpler times, it’s grazing ground for those of us who won’t see 50 again.

Other standout tracks include the moody moving on of “She’s Leaving For Dallas”; The jazzy “So Used” and the countrified “Chicago Lady” telling of how love spans the divide between Reno and Tennessee, all highlight Wence’s working of different styles. An interesting inclusion is “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” which is a remembered #1 pop hit for Looking Glass back in August ’72. It works a treat here.

Songs From The Rocky Fork Tavern is an easy and friendly listen. But then…Bill Wence knows how to make music.


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