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"Live Review :: 4.1.04"

By Peter G. Lancellotti
QUOTE: "…matching the likes of Freddie Mercury and Prince"

Willie Wisely Live at the Hotel Café

The satirical, gracious, and eloquent Willie Wisely rocked the Hotel Café in Hollywood on April 1st with an abundance and burst of energy! His unassuming boyish presence and comedic self-effacing stage antics make him one of the top entertainers in Hollywood. While Wisely is talented on many fronts (actor for stage and television, musician, song and score writer) this night was all about his own style of music, blending ‘60s and ‘70s pop, rock, and country in his own special way. He always has a didactic message in his lyrics and cultivates a new intensity that brings it into present day with humor, imaginative melodies, and crazy cadences that move to a definitive groove. His vocal style is all his own with what sounds like a little over a four octave range with highs, lows, and perfect control matching the likes of Freddie Mercury and Prince. The mischievous, slightly crooked smile keeps one guessing about what he’ll do next. He’s consistently interesting throughout the performance.

Wisely opened the show with four songs he played acoustically on guitar with amazing stage presence and is able to hold his own while engaging the audience with every nuance of speech both verbally and melodically. The guy makes the audience laugh! He eases into the gig with the slightly sad and ironic "Vagabond" where it’s evident right off that he’s a consummate musician. When he began playing the "National Counsel of Jewish Women's Thrift Stores," the realization that Wisely isn’t afraid to say it like he sees it is also very apparent.

In the second part of his set, he introduces his interim band; Steve Hurley on bass and Rob Kurzwreiter on drums. Steve and Rob only had a few weeks to learn Willie’s complex beats and rhythms. It’s obvious they are both accomplished musicians as they carried themselves as well as could be expected on such short notice. By the third song "Raincan," Wisely’s ability to bring his musicians together for a cohesive sound truly makes him a leader in artistry. Mike Reukberg joined them on stage to sing the harmonies for "Cannot Love You Enough" and did a remarkable job. Mike’s most likely been on stage with Willie before as they both complimented one another extremely well. The set ends with, oddly enough, a sing-a-long penned by Willie called "Parador." He gets the entire audience into a repeating chorus of "oh no!" while bringing it to a marvelous crescendo leaving us wanting more.

Before the show, Willie revealed that he’s just embarked on a nationwide tour. This particular evening’s show was actually a CD release for his compilation "Go," consisting of the best selected songs from his albums "She" and "Turbosherbet" which were released in the late ‘90s. I recommend it highly as one of the best contributions to indie pop/rock to date. He’s currently working on a new release slated for late fall this year. And knowing Willie’s aggressive style, it’s going to rock your soul! To find out more, please visit www.williewisely.com. - LA Music Scene

"Concert Preview :: 3.25.02"

By Wendy Gilmartin
QUOTE: "a perfectionist pining for the most righteous blend of '60s pop and '70s rock"

Wisely at the Derby

Recording Artist, film-soundtrack composer, studio producer and actor, Mr. William J. Wisely Jr. is still not given a fair shake by the L.A. club scene. Wisely's sound is that of a perfectionist pining for the most righteous blend of '60s pop and '70s rock, gleaning the best aspects of all eras (swingy cabaret to catchy soul to country riffage) from the veritable music vault in his brain. Plus his voice can bend like Prince's, sneer like Elvis Costello's or hit a high one like Daryl Hall's. But Wisely's integrity has been suspect because of his work's slick goodness and his polished theatrics onstage. For cripes sake, the guy's just a first-rate player. He's been long on following up 1998's power-pop opus, Turbosherbet, but promises ever more style-bending speakeasy jazz, Juan Esquivel swoops and Dylanesque word work for this show. 4500 Los Feliz Blvd. (323) 663-8979.
- LA Weekly

"Interview :: 6.3.04"

By Paul Pearson
QUOTE: "I’d sit there listening to ‘Revolution 9’… I don’t have any rules about diversity"

Wisely Adds Mojo To Pop

A question that burns every music critic and writer: Why isn’t "pop" music more popular?

Not the mechanically crisp "pop" music of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, but the Beatlesque, melody-rich and organic guitar pop of artists like Matthew Sweet, Marshall Crenshaw, Teenage Fanclub, or even Squeeze?

Willie Wisely has a theory. "My mission is to change that," he said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. "I believe it’s a disease the Beach Boys started. Which is this: ‘Hey, let’s make really great, brilliant music, but let’s have no stage presence, no real kind of mythological stand. Where is Prince’s personality in power pop?

"That’s why I got into the Beatles. They were a brotherhood, culture brothers from another planet, with great stage presence. I really believe music should have the stage mojo. I’m out to change people’s perception of power pop being something for pasty-faced white boys under 40. I think a lot of musicians concentrate on the craft; we so enshrined famous recordings in our memories that we’ve spent our careers worshipping them, instead of writing for the here and now. Only guys who played with Legos as they were kids like that kind of stuff."

Wisely, who as you may have guessed is quite the engaging conversationalist, is coming to Olympia to perform two club shows at The Arthouse and the Mark, along with an in-studio appearance on KAOS today. His most recent release, "Go!," is a compilation of songs he released on Franklin Castle Records. "Go!" contains some of the most inventive and witty pop songs on the independent scene, and needless to say, it’s more infectious than the flu.

The St. Louis native grew up in Minneapolis, where he started his recording career independently as a teenager in the late ‘80s. "I released 4-track cassettes as a teenager, and that got me some local notoriety. I developed into a fairly good local draw. I started working and doing promo at The First Avenue Club, where Prince filmed the performances in ‘Purple Rain.’ That was the center of the scene – the Replacements, Soul Asylum, and the Jayhawks were very active back then. A very vibrant scene."

After moving to Los Angeles, Wisely found himself not only writing and recording music, but falling into a career as an actor as well. His credits include a bit part on the "Six Feet Under" pilot, the film "Auto Focus" and a few commercials. "Acting sucks," Wisely said. "You think music’s hard on an ego? The community of actors can be backbiting and persnickety. The music community is all about that peace and love stuff. I’m not aggressively in the acting business anymore.

Wisely also made musical contributions to films, composing the score to the cult favorite "Tromeo and Juliet" and providing incidental music for both "Scooby Doo" pictures. The cinematic approach certainly applies to Wisely recordings, as they teem with innovative and sneaky arrangements without diluting the power of melody.

"I guess I’m a victim of Paul McCartney," Wisely said. "‘The White Album’ became iconic to me. It didn’t leave my turntable for four months. I had three-foot-tall speakers at the sides of my bed, and I’d sit there listening to ‘Revolution 9’ going into ‘Good Night.’ I don’t have any rules about diversity. Actually it’s been a challenge in my career to focus enough in my palette of colors so that people won’t be jarred from a listen to my records.

"With the next album, I think I’ve finally hit my stride. There’s a broad swath of feelings and colors, but it’s more restricted to a kind of more singular emotion. You’ll never bash all the sherbet colors out of me, but I think some focus would help get my music to speak to more people."

Wisely’s live act features himself and multi-instrumentalist Petur Smith. "He’s from Sweden, and he played with all the ABBA studio musicians for years. He’s a wunderkind of some sort over there, just a burning musician."

"I like to rock. But I also like to be tender. I like to exercise all those muscles in the course of the show. There’s never any shoegazing at my shows. We’ll work the whole range. Maybe I’ll sing ‘Mona Lisa’ a cappella."

"Go!" was released on the independent Franklin Castle company, an arrangement Wisely is intent on retaining. "The major labels have certainly looked, and I’ve played a few showcases. I’m always a little left of center or something – whatever it is, I consider it a blessing. All my friends here on major labels are just miserable. Artists on major labels are by and large miserable, and eventually they’re going to get stoned. We spend so much time reading about the winners, the Madonnas and the Elton Johns, and you start to think that’s the reality. But I can name you probably 74 people that have bitten hard by
the end of business."

With the forthcoming, as-yet-untitled disc under his belt, though, Wisely nonetheless has some tried-and-true publicity schemes running through his head. "I’ve been thinking about starting to pick on people I can bad-mouth, have some little rows in the press. Any ideas?"
- The Olympian

"Theater Preview :: 6.12.03"

by T.C.
QUOTE: "’It's a meaty role… abusive, toothless. Closet homosexual’ -- presumably a stretch for Wisely."


Can trash get any better than this? "Lovelace: The Musical," starring former "Family Ties" kid Tina Yothers as the late porn queen Linda Lovelace, is taking shape in Los Angeles with Minneapolis-bred musician/actor Willie Wisely as Lovelace's nasty husband, Chuck. Wisely got involved through Anna Waronker ("Josie and the Pussycats"), who wrote the music with Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Go's. "I was hired to sing the recorded demos for Anna and Charlotte," Wisely told I.W. "They liked me so much as Chuck that they gave me the part. No audition. We like that!" It's a "meaty role," he said. "Abusive, toothless. Closet homosexual. An enigmatic character" -- and presumably a stretch for Wisely, who's newly (and happily) married. An abbreviated showcase will be staged June 22 at the Key Club in Hollywood (with underground divas Mink Stole and Ann Magnuson in supporting roles) and an off-Broadway opening is planned for fall. There's more on the Wisely front, too -- he's working on an album of his own and producing a disc for comedian Andy Dick that he says is "off-the-map bizarre."

- Minneapolis StarTribune

"Concert Preview :: 6.3.04"

By Suzy Stump
QUOTE: "Overwhelmed With Goodness"

I never paid much attention to that well-worn adage about too much of a good thing making the fish taste sour. That is until I became addicted to home improvement shows, and then I realized that you really can have too much of a good thing (it’s called "While You Were Out"). Scowl if you will, but these are the rantings of an individual who once thought that there could never be enough Ty Pennington on broadcast television. In rare cases, I don’t mind being overwhelmed with goodness. Those rare cases, thank you for inquiring, are peppermint ice cream and Willie Wisely. After his mid-90’s cocktail-nation pop band Willie Wisely Trio, countless film and TV soundtracks, even acting stints ("Six Feet Under"), songwriter Wisely is still able to churn out an endless number of clever ditties. How is it possible that one man can write so many good George Harrison-like pop songs, yet Velvet Revolver receives the attention this week? Asinine. With the Mona Reels and Veda Hille, 9pm, $10, The Arthouse, Olympia; also with Nerk Twins and Eleni Mandell, June 9, 9:30pm, The Mark, Olympia
- Weekly Volcano

"CD Review :: 1.19.04"

Quote: "Superlatives are not enough... perfect pop genius."

Wisely "Go!"

Sort of a new album from Willie Wisely, but not, at the same time. While he finishes an album of new material for release in 2004 sometime, we have this stunning 12-song compilation of his very best material, a perfect primer of his special pop genius. Re-mixed and re-mastered, as well! Fans of Owsley (and his previous band The Semantics), early McCartney solo material (think "Ram"), Ben Folds, Brendon Benson, Mark Bacino and Brad Jones, this is, simply, a MUST pick-up! So many classic songs here for most Not Lamers, but for us, "Go!" is one of the very best pop songs in the last 10 years. Really, we mean it (soundbite on site). Brilliant, clear production on every track… AMG said this about his second album, She…" pull out all the stops, hell-bent to prove that he’s a full-fledged showman a la Paul McCartney. There are piano ballads, Casio bossa nova, ringing guitar pop, blue-eyed soul, neo-Glam stomps, George Harrison sitar-pop – it’s a veritable tour de force, a flashy display of a myriad different styles, all tied together by his smirky wit."-AMG. Superlatives are not enough here… our highest approval is connected to this collection!
- NotLame

"Interview :: 6.1.04"

By Heather Fiorucci
QUOTE: "I don’t believe in capturing song ideas on portable recorders…it’s best to work an idea on paper"

How High The Sky: William Wisely, Musictech Alumnus

Graduating from Musictech 1987 with a diploma in classical guitar, William Wisely was already well on his way to success. Based out of California, he decided to attend Musictech as a way to avoid "real life" and hopefully play music for the rest of his life. He felt his time spent here improved his ability to lead a band, and introduced him to players who demonstrated how high the sky was when it came to great songwriting and great playing.

"I can’t remember specifically, but the classes that forced me to score out my thoughts are perhaps the most valuable," he says. "I don’t believe in capturing song ideas on portable recorders. I think it’s best to work an idea on paper and watch the math of it grow, and let that tell you about your process and the deeper meaning of your work. I don’t like tying myself to some magical performance on a tape that can’t be recreated. I prefer to let a version on paper blow me away the next day. The paper doesn’t lie. You know what you’ve got."

Currently working as a recording artist/actor/producer, it seems his work while attending Musictech proved to be profitable. From 1988-1994, he was in charge of the promotion department at the Twin Cities famed nightclub First Avenue, and he also landed a job at Shanachie Records, where he worked for a few years. Not to go unnoticed, Wisely also worked at Kinko’s, where he was able to "steal lots of flyers for my band, and while meeting all the scenesters’ making their own."

Despite all of his work experience while attending school, one of the most influential experiences he feels taught him the ropes was touring the United States and Canada. "I don’t recommend that for everyone, but it gave me a great perspective on the life and struggle of musicians and people in general. (It created) irreplaceable memories, and I’m still doing it. I say screw trying to schmooze the industry people. It’s the musicians you want to know."

With two Minnesota Music Awards and ten albums under his belt, you’d think Wisely would tout these as a credit to his success. "They mean nothing," he says. "I’ve won major contests and played all the conferences, but nothing is more valuable than your ability to listen and your ability to emotionally feel your playing and writing. Accomplishments and résumés don’t always mean much in the music business."

It seems William Wisely has a good perception of what is important to him. Although we can’t help but wonder that out of all the people he’s likely met over the years, if there’s one who had a great impact on his life. "I took a guitar lesson from Jack McNally (president and co-founder of Musictech College) in 1980," Wisely says. "First thing he said was, ‘What do you want to play?’ He was probably ready to teach me a Beatles song or a Leo Kotke lick, and eventually he would. But not before I unassumingly showed him four chords I’d put together. He liked what he saw and he identified my creative spark. So guitar lessons immediately turned into songwriting lessons. It was a sensitive stroke on his part that changed my life, as he showed me my own potential."

When asked William about his future plans, he told of how he would like to keep working on film scores. "I wrote and recorded a cue in Scooby Doo 2 and it was a blast! Indie films are a great time too, if the director is cool. You can often exercise the frontiers of your creativity when syncing to picture. My new CD will come out later in 2004 on Franklin Castle Recording, an L.A.-based indie label."

He also hopes to get back out to California to continue working there. "As much as I really love Minneapolis, and as much as it’s very easy to make music here, I have to endorse a move to the coasts. The amount of ambition in L.A. is astounding, and I enjoy being shown that the sky is the limit everyday. I’m the type of person that will think small if I’m not constantly prodded otherwise," Wisely says.

"Despite the challenges of being in California (driving, inflation, no rehearsal space, musicians usually demand money to play with you on your material, and everybody has schedules that are packed because everyone is in five bands), it’s worth it because you are constantly meeting people who can push you to the next level, either by inspiring you with their talents, or more directly by connecting you to the gate keepers," he adds. "Of course, ultimately you are your own gatekeeper, which sort of defeats my recommendation. I suppose you could accomplish whatever you want anywhere. It’s just that it’s a lot easier to see how it will unfold in a city crazy with the arts and the industry."

When asked if he had any advice for Musictech students who will soon step out into the music-business world, the advice he offered may seem unexpected. "It’s important to give your fellow players information about themselves so that they can advance their plot, develop their character, and reach the end of their story. If all parties are giving, then everybody grows, and everybody has a through-line plot, and everybody gets the laugh. Celebrate your ability to speak this amazing language of music. A language that needs no words, a language that lets every listener ascertain their own meaning. It’s an astounding egalitarian phenomenon. The idea that everybody’s life is captured and shared by music is absolutely true. So share it. Listen to others, feed others your musical ideas respond to theirs, later or in real life, and mostly make sure you can feel it. Figure out how to clear your head and hear only the music. Your audience will hear the magic. Corny, I know; but deeply true."
- Intunemag.com

"Concert Review :: 6.12.04"

By Ted
QUOTE: "If there is any justice in the world Wisely will soon be headlining the Filmore."

Wisely/ Whitey On The Moon/ Goh Nakamura at The Rickshaw Stop, SFO, CA

Willie Wisely is back and he wisely dropped the Willie and is now goes
by just Wisely. His new record label has put out a compilation of his
first two solo albums under the name "Go!" and if you don't have those
two albums "Go!" serves as an excellent Wisely primer to prepare you
for his new release this Fall.

The Rickshaw set combined "Go!" material and new stuff. The new
songs were poppy and strong...perhaps more grown up and focused
than his other solo material.

The small crowd, which included Willie's dad and Aunt Sue, was
treated to a set of grinning, mood-elevating pop songs peformed by a
talented songwriter, singer, guitarist, and entertainer -- if there is any
justice in the world, Wisely will soon be headling places like The
- BAGeL Radio

"CD Review :: 6.1.04"

By Kevin Mathews
QUOTE: "A tremendous re-introduction to the pop bliss that is Wisely"

Wisely "Go!"

A reissue compiling selected tracks off both Willie Wisely solo albums She (1996) and Turbosherbet (1997), Go! Showcases Wisely’s deft way with power pop as he channels Jeff Lynne, Paul McCartney, The Raspberries and Todd Rundgren. Listening to Go!, it is a bit of an injustice that Wisely has not quite received the acclaim he so richly deserves. Songs like the effervescent "Bygones", the charming "Raincan", the folky "Vagabond", the bouncy "Home By Friday", the pleasing "Working Girl" and the tongue-in-cheek bluesy "Loander My Guitar," distinguish Wisely as an artist that fans of Jason Faulkner, Jellyfish and the Grays should take note of. With the promise of new material to come, Go! Serves as a tremendous re-introduction to the pop bliss that is Wisely.
- Amplifier

"CD Review :: 8.1.04"

By Cary Willis
QUOTE: ".…free of phony fury"

Wisely "Go!"

Running against the grain of a music industry that's taken on an insufferable affectation of attitude,
this best-of collection is free of phony fury. Wisely crafts humorous and evocative songs that
explode with optimism and energy. Think Beatles at their hookiest, with traces of 1970s
glam-rock, a little blue-eyed soul and even some hip hop scratching to keep things from going
entirely retro. The guitars shimmer, the guy shows off a great vocal range and the whole thing just
makes you want to jump up and shout, "My raincan caught a cup of bilge and water!" OK, well,
that's part of the chorus to "Raincan." I don't know what it means, but it's an insanely catchy track
on an insanely catchy disk.

The album's themes are timeless - girls, love and sex are here in spades - but they're presented in
fresh and charming ways. GO! is a great starting point if you missed out on Wisely's masterpieces
She and Turbosherbet - though there are rumors that both will be re-released, perhaps with a new
record later this year. Catch up on a pure pop genius.
- Louisville Eccentric Observer


1996 "She" (October)
1997 "Turbosherbet" (October/Relativity)
2003 "Go!" (Franklin Castle)
2005 "She" (Noise McCartney) Japan
2005 "Parador" (Noise McCartney) Japan
2006 "Parador (Ella/Not Lame) US


Feeling a bit camera shy



"Parador" is a classic, quirky collection filled with sharp words and sweet hooks... straddles the divide between classic songcraft and idiosyncratic visions in this shimmering collection.

Fans of quality pop have something to sing about!  Wisely's "Parador" is charming yet mature - this consistently perfect record puts the artist's talents on full display - and that's a helluva display.
"Parador" is so full of soulful vocals and endearing melodies, it makes one want to build a shrine and pray in the direction of wherever Willie may be touring.  If Paul really is dead, then I finally believe in reincarnation.  I may have to buy a new CD player - I simple can't get myself to take "Parador" out of my old one.  Pop music simply doesn't get any better than this.

"Parador" is a beautiful collection of songs and melodies that touch every part of your emotional repertoire.

A big leap forward for Wisely in terms of discplining his quirky side while still coming off as cool.

"This Is Everything" is a freaking smash.


Willie fronted, toured constantly and recorded with a variety of ensembles before launching his solo career in 1996 with “SHE”, on October Records (recently re-released in Japan). Produced by John Strawberry Fields, whose other credits include Andrew WK, Mandy Moore and Switchfoot, “SHE” was hailed as a pop classic by publications such as CMJ New Music Report, FMQB, and Alternative Press, with critics raving that it was a "genuine pop rock gem," and "a consistently captivating album…that could redefine Minneapolis pop."

By press time, Willie was already back in the studio, mixing “TURBOSHERBET”, a twisted, colorful departure that featured Michael Bland, Tommy Barbarella, and Brian Gallagher, much of Prince’s New Power Generation. The singles "Raincan" and "Bygones" were hitting dozens of AAA and college radio station playlists nationwide.

In the year 2000, with a host of prestigious awards chafing under his belt, including a second-place finish in the national NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) "Best of the New Bands" competition, and two Minnesota Music Academy awards (for Best Songwriter and Best Pop Album), Wisely was chosen by Spike Lee to be part of a national television campaign for IAM.COM.

In 2004, after a 60-date North American Tour including shows at CMJ & SxSW, Wisely signed with Franklin Castle Recordings and released, GO! a CD featuring the most irresistible tracks from Wisely’s earlier albums. The new album “Parador” is co-produced with Linus of Hollywood and is slated for US release on ELLA/NOT LAME RECORDINGS on January 24th 2006.

Since moving to Los Angeles in 2000, Willie has dabbled in scoring for film–- working on such disparate projects as the indie cult classic "Tromeo and Juliet", Andy Dicks short “Adcorp” and both of Warner’s "Scooby-Doo" animated features. He also DJs with his closet-busting collection of vinyl at The Standard Hotel, LA’s hip downtown outpost. All this and Willie still finds time to take the occasional offbeat acting job (look for him as the proprietor of the crack house in season one, episode one of "Six Feet Under," or as the disgruntled food worker in "Auto Focus," or doing the twist with Mike Myers in "Austin Powers in Goldmember").

Because he is married to a holistic veterinarian, Willie’s tiny basement recording studio often serves as a halfway house for everything from a lost guinea fowl to a brace of abandoned kittens, in addition to the couple’s beloved Schipperke dog. Between feeding times, Willie is currently producing albums for Andy Dick and Sandman, Montana’s Rappin’ Cowboy.