Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wade Ogle and the Mad Spirits: an injection from Arkansas

This past Saturday night, I went to the recordBar in Westport to see American Catastrophe and Adam Lee and his Dead Horse Sound Company. Wade Ogle and the Mad Sprits played between them on this magical night. Their three-piece left everyone in awe.

I thought it was just me, but during their set, I stood (and swayed) next to Amy Farrand and a few other musicians. Amy plays bass for American Catastrophe. Her musical genius and spectrum of talent amazes me. So when she was amazed, it made me take even more notice of Wade, Paul Boatright (drums) and Tyler Bame (bass).

Wade Ogle abandoned planet earth while singing and playing his guitar. He flew somewhere else in his songs of loss and resurrection. He ascended into heaven and dove head first into hell. His guitar, split between two amps (one dirty, one clean) with a delay, created a sound that reminded me of a country church organ and a freight train; a two for one thunder cloud that resonated with the storm that night.

It’s interesting to see artists live and then listen to their recorded artifacts. With Wade’s live electric energy of flesh, vocal instrument and guitar, his body in perpetual motion, his neck veins at full throttle, I was curious to see how his art translated through my speakers at home. The process reminded me of visualizing the Stones via my vinyl as a kid after seeing them at the Spectrum in Philly in ancient times.

This week, I listened to Wade’s recordings; Songs From Winter (2008) and Lover and Fighters (2009). Those albums did not sound like what I heard at the recordBar.

Instead of disappointment, what I feel is privilege in having gotten to know Wade and his art in a deeper way. Like a writer of literature with a deep body of work, Wade’s musical journey, the trip back in his musical timeline, helped me to inform the present and appreciate his killer delivery this past weekend. Listen to these previous works and you have the opportunity to listen to his lyrical paintings, tone poems of regret, movement, and hope.

What impresses me is how he and his mates transposed these songs into the realm of the primordial three-piece orchestration, accelerated a few, and gave the live audience a dose of emotional abandon.

Watching musicians connect with fellow musicians leaves me exhausted, thinking I learned something while instead understanding that I need to learn more. For example, Amy, who more than exemplifies the Kansas City Music scene’s richness, was the first to greet Wade after his set, onstage while stowing his gear. Amy, who I thought has heard and seen it all, taught me that night that there’s always more. There’s always more if you’re open to it.

There’s certainly more than meets the ears after listening to Wade’s recordings. If you’re reading this Wade, please get into a studio soon with Paul and Tyler to capture the three of you somehow. I know it’s not easy, but that clarity of form deserves a bit of posterity. In the meantime, when listening to your albums, I’m remembering your head snaps of passion and the moment you kicked over your music stand, and slammed your guitar on the amp when your set ended. Try to capture that in the studio and come back to Kansas City soon, please.


  1. Hear hear. That was one of the best 45 minutes of music I've heard in a long time - and the fact that it was framed by two other outstanding performances by Adam Lee and American Catastrophe made it an evening that won't soon be forgotten.

  2. Thank you for this piece, Tom. Having grown up in the same neck of the woods as Wade and Paul, I had the privilege of experiencing their talents at a young age in the NW Arkansas bands The Faith Healers, Dali Automatic and Punkinhead. It has also been a privilege to rediscover them as they mature, as if to add yet another piece to the soundtrack of my life.