Music » Livewire

The Reverend Billy C. Wirtz

Thursday, March 16, at the Beachland Ballroom.


Most funny songs evaporate once the novelty has passed. (Listen to "Because I Was High" lately? How about Willie Nelson's gay-cowboy song?) Great songwriters learn how to channel their maverick humor, turning out idiosyncratic songs that are both amusing and memorable. Some lean more toward comedy (like Tom Lehrer, Sarah Silverman in Jesus Is Magic), others poignancy and craft (Terry Allen, They Might Be Giants). Reverend Billy C. Wirtz, with his "palpitatin' piano," is smack-dab in the middle.

Born in Aiken, the cultural hotbed of South Carolina, Wirtz is a roots-drenched key-cracker inspired by the rockabilly, blues (Chicago's Sunnyland Slim in particular), and the passionate fervor of southern gospel. He combines his love for those genres with parodies of the white-trash ethos and the double-dealing dynamism of Jimmy Swaggart. It's somewhat of a left-of-center outlook, like a redneck Lenny Bruce tossing musical spitballs at hypocritical piety. After songs like "A Man's Gotta Do (What a Woman's Gotta Do)," "Right Wing Roundup," and "Waffle House Fire," you're likely to thank him for being an American.

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