Roger Alan Wade has something to prove. Why would anyone who has penned songs for country music’s royalty such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Hank Williams Jr. and others have anything to prove? A bit of a history lesson may be in order here. For this Nightfall performance, Roger will be joined by his grandson, Roland Dixon and band mates Jacob Covell, Noah Scott Boling, Austin Robinson and Emily Dixon.
Once upon a time, Wade worked in Nashville writing songs for other folks to record. Hank Williams, Jr. took his song "Country State of Mind" to number one back in 1986 and garnered Wade three gold records and one platinum. When Nashville stopped making country music around the early '90s, where was a guy like Roger to go? For years he played for next to nothing in honky-tonks and clubs entertaining anybody who would listen. Then in 2005, Wade’s All Likkered Up became the first release on the independent label Johnny Knoxville Records.
Consisting mainly of novelty songs with a satirical nod to rednecks and honky-tonk culture, All Likkered Up brought Wade to a global audience. The tracks “If You’re Gonna Be Dumb” and “BB Gun” were featured in the highly successful “Jackass” films/video game and MTV’s “Wildboyz” TV series. But there were a few songs on it like "Sweet Wine of Sorrow" or the heartfelt "Johnny Cash has Died" that showcased Wade's ability to stretch out in a more serious direction.
In 2009, Wade released Stoned Traveler, another solid album with about a 50/50 balance of novelty songs and more traditional singer-songwriter material. Stoned Traveler included “D.R.U.N.K.” which appeared in the MTV show "Nitro Circus".
Then in 2010 Wade released his masterpiece, Deguello Motel.
The inspiration for Deguello Motel may have been thirty years of hard living, but the approach was a sober one. The first challenge was for Roger Alan Wade to get sober. (He did.) The second challenge was to see if he could write a song that way.(He can.) But that wasn’t enough for Wade. He had something to prove. “He was good till he kicked the drinking and drugs” is how the cliche goes. Years of prejudice and misguided notions were waiting to be quashed. Wade quashed them, and then kept moving. He wasn’t satisfied proving the notions wrong, he wanted to prove that the opposite was right.
After hearing Deguello Motel Wade’s fans started asking, “Is this the same guy who wrote ‘Poontang’? Deguello Motel catches people looking the other way. You keep waiting for the next song to be the goofy one, and it never comes, adding gravity to the songs, making you perk up and pay attention saying, “This is serious stuff.”
All this talk of sobriety may have you thinking Wade lost his edge. On the contrary, Deguello Motel is like fighting fire with fire, and telling the hard, cold, ugly truth, with a poet’s wit and wisdom. The album is a catharsis, with the lyrics like toxins being purged out in all their candid rawness bringing Wade out of the shadow of being Johnny Knoxville’s cousin or a writer of silly songs, and into the company of people like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt as a premier songwriter.
In 2011 Wade reached back into his bag of novelty songs one more time and released Too Fat to Fly. Kicking off with the title track, which is based on the dispute between Southwest Airlines and film director Kevin Smith, Wade trades in the bleakness of Deguello Motel for more irreverent humor. More exposure came with "Party in My Pants," which was featured in the film Jackass 3-D.
The best moment of this brief album comes at the end with the masterful tune "The Sun Don't Shine on the Same Dog's Ass Everyday," which, if you believe the story, was pitched to Cash, Waylon, Willie, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, and others, all in the hopes of Wade being able to afford a box of jelly-filled donuts for his cousin Knoxville’s birthday!
Wade has appeared on "The Jimmy Kimmel Show" and "Howard Stern Show" and Johnny Knoxville and Wade launched their own weekly radio show "Big Ass Happy Family Jubilee" on Sirius/XM Satellite’s Outlaw Channel.
In December 2011, Wade launched his Official Facebook Fan Page www.facebook.com/RogerAlanWadeMusic with a special gift for his fans. When friend, fan and Jackass Star Ryan Dunn tragically died in an accident earlier in the year, Wade wrote the hauntingly beautiful tribute “The Light Outshines the Star”. Wade gave the song away for free too his Facebook fans as a gift from Dunn and “all the Jackasses that love him”. The response has been overwhelming.
2012 is gearing up to be a big year for Wade. The next CD titled “The Last Request of Elijah Rose” is a prequel to Deguello Motel. Roger states, “This album is more about foreboding than darkness. You will feel the storm coming. It's about the journey in, when you're young and everything seems like it's going to go as you planned. And then, man, it just don't sing your song no more for some reason. You hit a time when it tests your mettle. You either come out on the other side or you don't. What's tantalizing is that I can hear it, I can feel the weather change and I can feel all the characters involved in it.”
Whether he's writing the dark and poetic tunes of Deguello Motel or "Psycho Bitch from Hell," Roger Alan Wade is “an American treasure and one of the greatest songwriters we have.”