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BRENT CD EYES

The Northern Life

Until Brent Wohlberg went to see the 2005 Johnny Cash movie "Walk the Line", he considered himself a dyed-in-the-wool rock musician.

But after hearing Cash classics such as “Folsome Prison Blues,” something clicked.

“It was like holy crap, this is really cool,” Wohlberg said. “This is how I want to write.”

Shortly after watching the movie, he played a few Cash tunes at a Noelville gig.

“You could see that everybody immediately identified with the song, identified with Johnny Cash, and they identified with country music,” he said.

Wohlberg's flirtation with country music wasn't just a passing fad, though.

His first solo album, released about a decade ago, featured rock music.

But now he's seen the light, and his second solo album, which he released on Valentine's Day, is pure country. It's not modern country either, but an old-fashioned sound reminiscent of Cash and his contemporaries.

The album, entitled "Don't Sell The Car", features songs with names such as “Big Red Rooster” and “The Tractor Song.”

Wohlberg is accompanied on the album by a veritable who's who of the local music scene, including Sarah Matt, Peter Learn, Donny Reed, Brian Quebec, Kevin Closs, Sean Barrette and Chris Leblanc.

Along with himself, this group of musicians make up the band he's dubbed The Blazing Elwoods.

“I was thinking about how cool it would be to have Sudbury's most awesome musicians playing on this album,” Wohlberg said.

“I'm kind of a shy guy. The idea of asking them was kind of hard for me. I thought 'As if they're going to want to spend their time coming over to play on these songs,' and they did.”

Owning his own music studio, Artifact Media, for the past 14 years, certainly helped, too. Unfortunately, he's been so busy producing everyone else's music that he hasn't had much time to work on his own album.

“It's been a three-year process,” Wohlberg said. “I found that I can't move on until this is done and out. Now that it's done and I'm able to go to the stage of selling it and promoting it, it's a huge weight off my shoulders.”

He said songwriting is something that comes naturally to him — after all, he's been doing it since he was a kid. Wohlberg said he used to record his own songs on his dad's tape recorder.

“I was never good enough to play anyone else's music, so I just started writing my own songs, and that kind of worked out well for me,” he said.
The release of "Don't Sell The Car" comes at an exciting time in Wohlberg's career.

He's one-third of the band The Puckhogs, which recently came in second place in the CBC Hockey Night in Canada Song Quest contest with their song “For the Love of the Game.”

The group is now selling the song online for $1 to benefit the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program, to help underprivileged kids join organized sport and recreational programs.

Wohlberg said The Puckhogs' success says a lot about Sudburians.

“Without the Sudbury community, it wouldn't have happened, because it was vote-based.”

Those interested in downloading “For the Love of the Game” can do so by visiting www.thepuckhogs.bandcamp.com.

Wohlberg's album is available for purchase locally at Chapters and La Fromagerie Elgin, or online on iTunes, www.facebook.com/blazingelwoods, or www.cdbaby.com/cd/theblazingelwoods.

Did you know?
The cover for "Don't Sell the Car" features a picture of Wohlberg's dad's 1968 Dodge Polara, which is willed to him. One of the songs on the album, also called "Don't Sell the Car", is inspired by his love of the car.

@heidi_ulrichsen

 

BRENT PROMO

THE SUDBURY STAR

Sudbury singer/songwriter Brent Wohlberg has released a country music album three years in the making, following in the footsteps of musical heroes Johnny Cash, Stompin' Tom Connors and Hank Williams Sr.

The Blazing Elwoods — Don't Sell the Car was self-produced and recorded at Wohlberg's garage studio, Artifact Media, with a little help from the 43-year-old musician's friends.

Joining him on the 11-track CD are Puckhog members Chris Leblanc and Sean Barrette, whose entry in CBC Radio's Next Great Canadian Hockey Song competition, For the Love of the Game, earned second place in the national competition.

That song was also recorded at Artifact Media.

Leblanc and Barrette joined him on Don't Sell the Car, as did local musicians Sarah Matt, Peter Learn, Donny Reed, Marc Donato, Guy Coutu, Brian Quebec, Joe Fiorino, Chris Peplinsky, Nick Krawchuk, Kevin Closs, friend Rick Moggy and members of Les Troubadours.

Wohlberg admits to being somewhat uncomfortable promoting his album, but said he had fun writing the tunes and hopes listeners will enjoy them, as well.

The first country song he wrote was for his father Elwood, the inspiration for the band name The Blazing Elwoods.

The song of the same name was written as a filler for the album, but the tune wasn't working until he invited Peplinsky on bass, Fiorino on drums, Matt on piano, Coutu on lead guitar and Reed on fiddle to add their talent.

"Now it's my fave," he said of the song.

The Motorcycle Song is another favourite, co-written with friend Moggy, about a motorcycle trip that never happened, but still might somebody.

"Rick and I shared vocal duties on this one," said Wohlberg in a release, "but the piece de resistance is the chorus. I can't help but smile when I hear Rick, Sarah, Sean, Chris and myself singing the shalalalas."

The title song, Don't Sell the Car, was about the 1968 Polara his father got from Brent's grandmother, Grace.

"I love this car. Sarah Matt came in and helped out with her amazing piano playing and her beautiful back-up vocals. Hearing her voice always sends a shiver down my spine."

His favourite lyric from the song is “I know she's not firin' on eight cylinders," he said.

A lively French song, J'ai poigne un gros poisson, is an homage to Wohlberg's wife, JoAnn, whom he met in high school and has been with for more than 25 years.

"She's the only one for me," he said in the release.

"Her family is really and truly my family. Her relatives are from Noelville ... and they know how to have a good time."

The highlights of this song are Krawchuk on spoons, Donato on mandolin, Andrea McColeman on accordion, Reed on fiddle and Quebec on bass.

"These elements for me make the French-Canadian connection happen."

The crowning touch was that members of Les Troubadours — Isabelle Ratte, Yves Larriviere, Jean-Guy Rivard and Johanne Rioux — dropped by to sing backup.

. . . .

Available at

The Blazing Elwoods — Don't Sell the Car is available at:

Chapters, La Fromagerie Elgin, facebook.com/theblazingelwoods

iTunes, cdbaby.com/cd/theblazingelwoods.

Music scene: The Blazing Elwoods