Band of brothers: Wheelers show holiday spiritWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For five-piece indie/folk rock outfit Wheeler Brothers, there’s no place like home. That’s why the Austin, Texas, band will buy one fan a round-trip plane ticket to go home for the holidays.
“I don’t know what it is about Austin, but I swear everybody you talk to is from somewhere else,” Nolan Wheeler said. “Even our manager, our fearless leader Pat Cassidy’s family’s in Virginia, and we just thought it’d be kind of nice to give somebody a plane ticket to head home and spend some time with their family. It’s expensive, especially around Christmas.”
In conjunction with its winter tour and latest music video for its song “Home for the Holidays,” Wheeler Brothers accepted fan videos via the band’s Facebook page for its “Home for the Holidays Video Contest” from Nov. 4 through Dec. 8. Fans had to submit a video less than five minutes long telling the group why they deserve to get sent home for the holidays by Wheeler Brothers.
“I think a [plane] ticket’s probably like, $500 each way,” Nolan said. “So we thought it’d be kind of nice to send somebody home.”
Comprised of Danny Matthews (electric guitar, vocals), A.J. Molyneaux (lap steel, electric guitar, harmonica, vocals) and brothers Nolan (acoustic, electric, vocals, piano, glockenspiel, harp), Tyler (bass guitar, bare feet) and Patrick Wheeler (drums), Wheeler Brothers will perform at Omni on Dec. 10 as part of its “Home for the Holidays” winter tour. At the show, the band will announce the winner of its “Home for the Holidays Video Contest” via a live webcast.
The band members have a lot of family in the Toledo area, so announcing the contest winner at the Omni is fitting.
“It’s going to be a blast,” Nolan said of the Toledo concert. “I haven’t seen the family since the last time I was up there — four or five months ago — and that was just a crazy show. I think we sold them out of Bud Light, Budweiser, Miller — pretty much everything. The only thing they had left were Bacardi mixers or Zima or something.
“It’s going to be a fun crowd. Our family’s a lot of fun to hang out [with]. Even though we’re states away, miles and miles, we all stay pretty close. It’s always a good time.”
Playing music together has been a vital part of the Wheeler Brothers’ lives since the trio won a Fender Stratocaster while back-to-school shopping approximately 15 years ago. All three brothers later attended Louisiana State University, where they met Matthews and started playing at parties and bars. The youngest of the three brothers, Nolan moved back to Austin and attended Texas State once his older siblings and Matthews graduated from LSU.
It wasn’t long before music became a full-time pursuit for Wheeler Brothers, which added longtime friend Molyneaux to the mix about two years ago and started making a name for itself in Austin.
“It’s been kind of interesting because we’ve had fans from all different types of genres, fans that usually listen to country or they usually listen to alternative rock,” Nolan said. “And everybody has a different song they like, and it’s kind of how we created the album.”
The first record from Wheeler Brothers, “Portraits,” came out in June on Bismeaux Records, which was founded by Texas music icon Ray Benson. One of Benson’s sons came to a Wheelers Brothers’ show and told him to check out the band. That led to a meeting with Benson, who liked that the group’s sound couldn’t be pigeonholed into one genre.
“Absolutely it’s a humbling experience,” Nolan said of meeting Benson. “I mean, even shaking the guy’s hand [is humbling] because he’s a giant. He’s, like, 7 feet tall. We went into his office and he’s got pictures with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson. I saw eight of his [nine] Grammys. I forget where the other one was, but you can tell he’s lived an interesting life and he’s got pictures all over to show it.”
The band’s journey will continue to get more interesting when it records “Sleep When You’re Dead” with Benson’s Asleep at the Wheel, another stop on what’s been a fun ride for Wheeler Brothers.
“It’s kind of a slow and steady thing,” Nolan said of getting Wheeler Brothers’ name out there. “But we’re all working pretty hard just building.”