Wilson explores new territory with The Staving ChainWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Having been firmly rooted in the blues for nearly two decades, Northwest Ohio native Dooley Wilson is a little timid about admitting where his initial inspiration came from.
“I think it really began before I picked up a guitar,” Wilson said in a phone interview with Toledo Free Press Star. “I have to admit, when I was 15, “Sweet Child o’ Mine” came out, and the solo from that song is the reason that I play guitar. Like I saw Slash doing that and — I feel a bit sheepish admitting this to the Toledo Free Press — but when I saw Slash doing that it changed my life. I was like, ‘I wanna do that! I can’t help it. I gotta do it.’ So, for better or for worse, that’s the road I took in life.”
While he never learned Slash’s note-by-note solo in “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” it marked the beginning of a long musical journey for Wilson, whose interest in Led Zeppelin as a teenager got him into Robert Johnson and led him to pursue the blues.
“By the time I was 19, I was just exclusively kind of militant about pursuing this style of southern, traditional blues,” Wilson said.
Since the early ’90s, Wilson has explored various forms of blues in groups such as Henry & June, Boogaloosa Prayer and the Soledad Brothers. After a jam session at the old Purple Gang house in Luna Pier last year, Wilson got inspired to start his latest venture. He is the vocalist and plays slide on the resophonic guitar for The Staving Chain, an authentic Delta blues outfit rounded out by John Roundcity (harmonica, mandolin, washboard), Todd Albright (acoustic guitar) and newest member Kassie Morrin (washboard).
On June 21, The Staving Chain released its self-titled, debut album on Danger Limited Sound Recording Company and will be playing at Manhattan’s on July 8 as part of a string of dates supporting the record. Staying true to the origins of Delta blues, The Staving Chain is exclusively acoustic. Albright plays a 1928 Stella, a guitar commonly used in old Delta blues.
“Culturally it’s very compelling, and it’s also humbling when you’re like a white guy from the suburbs because my life experience is so completely removed from the hardships that gave birth to that music and that culture,” Wilson said.
Don’t let Wilson fool you. The white kid from the suburbs has earned his stripes and become well-respected in the blues community over the years. In the fall of 2001, Wilson went down to New Orleans and worked on his chops for up to five hours a day as a street musician, alongside some of the best in the genre. In 2004 and 2005, Wilson traveled to Europe as a supporting act with the Soledad Brothers, whose connections with The White Stripes led to the Detroit rockers famously covering Henry & June’s “Goin’ Back to Memphis.”
“It’s a wonderful thing for me because it looks great on my résumé that The White Stripes cover my song,” Wilson said. “I had just come back home and was trying to get back on my feet again when I saw him cover that song on ‘Late Night [with] Conan O’Brien.’ I didn’t know whether to s–t or go blind. I felt so great.”
For a guy who has been honing his craft and fascinated by the blues since his late teens, the decision for Wilson to pursue the Delta blues with The Staving Chain was a natural progression, one that has him just as excited about music now as when he first heard “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”
“There’s just nothing like it,” Wilson said. “It grabs me by the nuts and lifts me above the shite.”
The Staving Chain will be at Manhattan’s, 1516 Adams St., on July 8 with Sarah Cohen & Friends. For more information, visit www.manhattanstoledo.com or call (419) 243-6675. To check out more on The Staving Chain, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Staving-Chain/160765533961342 or