The $#!T Hits the FansReviews
"Ménage a Moi"

Review from Country Music News May 2010 Issue. Reviewed by Larry Delaney
Wendell Ferguson
Menage A Moi
Wen Hel Freezes 0409
Produced by Wendell Ferguson
(11 Selections-Playing time 38:00)
The Mayor Of Loserville / Merle Jam / The Uptown Blues / Save Your Fork, There’s Pie / Happy-Go-Lucky / Menage A Moi / The Dirty Dish Rag / Clean Sweep / Cheeky / Powder Keg / Chimin’ The Blues

Many will be familiar with Wendell Ferguson as one of the most versatile and talented performers on the Canadian country music scene. He has long been recognized for his work in various country acts, and his own solo recordings; while his wit and humour has also been a trademark. Perhaps he is best known for his virtuosity as a guitar player, a special talent which has won him numerous accolades. Menage A Moi is another example of Ferguson’s witty way with words, but more importantly his ‘fingerstyle’ guitar work, a talent he claims to have only become serious with since the turn of the new millennium.
This 11 entry all-instrumental album is a pure gem, and something that fingerstyle guitarists will delight with. Wendell Ferguson’s obvious influence in this style comes from the late legend Chet Atkins, with some Merle Travis and Jerry Reed influences also noticeable. Each selection provides a tasty variation in Ferguson’s skill with the instrument, always sticking to simple melodic themes that you can whistle or hum along to (a trait of both Atkins and Reed)> The titles of the tunes composed here will also offer another insight into the slightly twisted mind of Wendell Ferguson (check the songlist above)
And just in case you might think that Wendell Ferguson is limited to pickin’ his guitar...think again. He accompanies himself here playing all other instruments...and it’s a long list including: “all acoustic and electric guitars, bass, tambourine, drums, shakers, congas, pop can lids, Martin hole, castanets, slinky, brushes, keyboards, and programming”. Wendell allowed his wife Marilyn to ring the 'chimes' on two selections. (Hopefully she was paid better than union scale for her contribution).
The album’s cartoon artwork is another outstanding example of the work of Vancouver-based husband/wife team of Bob Jaques and Kelly Armstrong (Carbunkle Cartoons) They also created the cover of Ferguson’s previous The $#!T Hits The Fans album; while cartoon buffs would likely know them as the artists behind the comic strips Ren and Stimpy and the Baby Huey series.

Review by Roger Chevrier On Air Host of Fingerstyle Guitar at Laurentian University Radio.

With memorable melodies, inventive arrangements and tasteful and exiting solos, Wendell manages to amaze and entertain the listener with each of his eleven compositions.
"Menage a Moi", is a must addition to the library of all you guitar pickers and music lovers alike. And as Chet Atkins would say; "This is my opinion and it should be yours".


Dave Walker Music

Wendell Ferguson has garnered quite a following, seemingly as much for his great sense of humour as for his high-quality guitar playing. A quick glance at the cover of his latest CD (his fifth, I believe) tells the story better than words.

Humour aside, Wendell has been a busy guy recording this CD. Besides his acoustic guitar he plays electric guitars, bass, tambourine, drums, shakers, congas, pop can lids, Martin hole (?), castanets, slinky (!), brushes, keyboards, and programming. In fact, the only other musician present is Marilyn Magyarosi who plays chimes on Save Your Fork and Happy-Go-Lucky.

Right from the opening flourish of Mayor of Loserville you are put on notice that this is going to be straight-ahead fingerstyle guitar, with a "band" of Wendells to add backup. If you are a fan of fingerstyle these tunes will sound instantly familiar, so well has Mr. Ferguson imbibed that style. This country-flavoured tune is a real jolt of caffeine to get you in the mood.

Merle Jam (another pun-ny title) riffs on the style of Merle Travis but still with lots of the Ferguson wit. This is another foot-tappin' country tune with full band backing up both electric and acoustic guitars. Wendell has obviously studied his country licks, and aspiring pickers will find a lot to learn on this one.

The Uptown Blues shifts gears a bit into a funky country blues groove. These are pretty joyful blues, played with gusto and style. Who says the blues have to be sad?

Save Your Fork, There's Pie begins with a gentle wash of harmonics perfectly accompanied by chimes, before sliding into straightforward fingerstyle, or at least as straight as Wendell Ferguson can be! There is a lot of good humour here as well as some impressively blistering triplets. The cascades of chords in the middle hark back nicely to the opening, and they lead into some very cool arpeggio work. You could be forgiven if at times you thought you were listening to Chet Atkins!

Another tune that feels instantly recognizable is Happy-Go-Lucky. In some ways this CD could be considered an anthology of fingerstyle techniques, and this song certainly demonstrates several of them. And what a fine contrast there is in the middle section! Lots for songwriters to learn here.

The title song Ménage a Moi is surprisingly pensive, at least at the outset. Unable to keep his ebullience in check though, Wendell soon has his fingers flying, lifting the original song up to the sky. Then we are treated to more cascading arpeggios that lead us right back to vigorous fingerstyle. Not content with just these ideas, Wendell tosses in some fine single-line playing before ending with ringing harmonics.

Barely have the harmonics stopped when we find ourselves into The Dirty Dish Rag. True to its title, this is a fun ragtime tune with just a few modern touches to keep it interesting. Unlike some one-man bands, Wendell has the musical sense to give the different instruments the spotlight at different times, adding a nice ensemble feel to this solo effort.

Surely it is no coincidence that we go straight from The Dirty Dish Rag into Clean Sweep! This is a rollicking country-folk tune that moves with gusto. And is that a reference to a very popular song's opening in the middle? Listen and decide for yourself. I somehow find this one similar in feel to Tommy Emmanuel's Countrywide, although they are completely different songs; they seem to share that same vibe.

Cheeky turns a corner into a jazzy shuffle which is a fine contrast to the two previous songs. There are more bluesy solos here, but very much jazz-inflected. This one has lots of single-line soloing to remind us of Wendell Ferguson's versatility (as if we had forgotten!).

Powder Keg brings us back to the land of fingerpicking with another foot tapper that feels immediately familiar even on first hearing. While the whole CD is very well recorded the guitars on this one sound somehow richer and more sparkling.

The same beautiful guitar tone starts off the appropriately-named Chimin' the Blues. Once again these are joyful blues, and Wendell treats us to some of his best lead solos as well as to whole sections in harmonics. A great ending to the CD. Fingerstyle and country enthusiasts will want to check out this CD.

You can support Wendell Ferguson by buying it directly from his web site.
There is even more for those of you in or around Toronto. Wendell will be hosting a party for the official release of this CD on March 25 at Hugh's Room (the same venue that is hosting Laurence Juber on May 26). You can save by ordering tickets in advance from Hugh's Room- here.

Review from The Record February 14, 2010

KITCHENER – We’re all familiar with the two masks of ancient Greek drama representing comedy and tragedy.

It might be a little over the top to suggest Wendell Ferguson and Katherine Wheatley wore the laughing face and the weeping face, respectively, for their concert Saturday at Folk Night at the Registry.

Still, it was definitely a case of opposites attracting and opposites being attractive to audience members.

While the extroverted Ferguson regaled the sellout crowd with musical satires and parodies, the introspective Wheatley mined the contours of a broken heart like a prospector panning for romantic gold.

The emotional ebb and flow made for a deeply rewarding concert, causing you to laugh out loud one minute before giving you pause to contemplate the mysteries of love the next.

Ferguson is a devilishly clever wordsmith, but his lyrical calisthenics are not ends in themselves. They provide the verbal framing for the musical houses he constructs with extraordinary guitar playing.

Many of his lyrical ditties referenced music, whether it was P-I-G, a parody of Tammy Wynette’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E, The Barnyard Two Step, Throw Another Fiddle on the Fire or Why Does Every Christmas Song Have So Many Chords?

Others lampooned such themes as bad driving (The Way I Drive) and the exaggerated claims of male anatomy set in cottage country (Great Big Johnson).

If Ferguson has a guitar hero it is Chet Atkins. He offered a couple of original instrumentals as tribute to the legendary Nashville musician and producer with Save Your Fork, There’s Pie and Fret No More, in addition to a cover of Mr. Sandman.

You would be wrong to think Ferguson only writes musical lampoons, even if he wouldn’t be caught dead singing one of them.

So it fell on Wheatley to deliver Wallflower Waltz, a country torch song the two musical companions co-wrote while touring Eastern Canada.

Most of Wheatley’s material was drawn from her hot-off-the-press third album Landed.

It has been a decade since she released Habits and Heroes. And she acknowledged it was “a personal album” that was “difficult to make.”

You don’t have to be a drugstore psychologist to garner from the songs that Landed was inspired by heartbreak.

But it’s a credit to Wheatley’s artistry as a songwriter that she has transformed personal sorrow into song poems with which we can all identify.

She painted her songs with a vocal palette spanning the emotional spectrum of colour, nuance, texture and depth.

She balanced the deep feeling of Signal Faded, Loved a Man, the 3:17 and the brilliant One True Kiss with the tongue-in-cheek revenge fantasy Run Away.

She also offered her joyous metaphorical tribute to gardening Hallelujah, as well as a couple of earlier songs Mrs. McIvor and Some Sweet Country.

Ferguson and Wheatley bantered and kibitzed throughout the concert. They kept the mood casual and informal and Wheatley welcomed audience members to join in on a few songs.

It was obvious both performers enjoyed themselves and that sense of pleasure was reciprocated by the audience who responded with a rousing standing ovation.

Creston Review
by Lorne Eckersly

Truth be told, I was fully prepared to grab a quick photo of Wendell Ferguson and head home for the evening. Ferguson arrived with great credentials seven-time winner of Canadian Country Music Award for best guitarist but he was mainly promoted as a music session man who has performed with some of North America’s top country music stars. Not being a fan of country music, I was less than enthusiastic about staying for another hour.
How wrong I was. From Ferguson’s opening number the oddly appropriate ode to a guitar capo (a little piece of equipment that wraps around the guitar’s neck, changing the key) revealed a very funny, extremely talented man who kept the audience laughing and enthralled for the rest of the evening. In the ensuing days I’ve talked to others who were in the audience and who were equally prepared to leave at the first opportunity. None of them did.
Ferguson has a passable, like-able voice. He’s certainly a superb guitarist. But his forte on Friday night is that he is an entertainer through and through. He writes funny, clever songs on goofy, unexpected themes, all of which to serve his virtuosity on the guitar, which in this case was a single six-string.
The native Ontarian needed no bells and whistles to captivate his audience and surely, had more of us been aware of what a fine performer he is, the reasonably full Prince Charles Auditorium would have been packed to overflowing. Anyone who missed the concert missed one of the best live performances I’ve seen in Creston. And there have been many good ones.
In hindsight, if I’d gone into Ferguson’s website before the concert I would have been excited about the prospects of seeing him perform. From the home page’s greeting_”Welcome to my site for sore ears”_ the website is testament to a talented man with a tremendous sense of humour. He is, as one faux reviewer sates, more ‘Mark’ than ‘Shania’ Twain.
I suppose it’s easier to promote Ferguson as a country music guitarist because he’s the first guitarist of choice when top stars are touring in Canada. And to peg him as a novelty act doesn’t do justice to his superb musicianship. His personality, wit, clever lyrics and easy rapport with the audience remind me of Todd Butler, a CBC radio favourite, but as a guitarist, Ferguson is clearly in a class of very few, like Chet Atkins, his hero.
If Wendell Ferguson ever comes back to Creston to perform I’ll be first in line for my tickets. And i can hardly wait for my CD order to arrive.



What the fans are saying:
I've probably listened to your new CD 20+ times over the past few days and I enjoy it a little more every time as I get to know what coming in the next few bars. You've done a great job paying respect to the masters and keeping the good music alive.
Keep picking / keep in touch!
Jim Reed - Fingerstyle enthusiast

That your cd sounds great. The home made drums, Marilyn's bells, and the excellent clear as a bell guitar playing through out.
I will be a' copping.
Congrats. I'd say you are a Certified Guitar Player.
Dave Matheson - Musician/songwriter with Moxy Fruvous, Betty and the Bobs, The Ground Crew, Ron Sexsmith

Great album, brilliant cover.
Holmes Hooke - Performer and Buyer for Hugh's Room
By the way, the record sounds great!
John Dymond - Bassist
The $#!T Hits the FansReviews
"Wendell Ferguson Live- The $#!T Hits the Fans"

Wendell Ferguson The $#!T Hits the Fans
Ferguson has long been a behind-the-scenes force in Canadian country music playing with or backing most every country star in the business...and finally getting some up-front exposure as the 'guitar-playing troubadour' on the 2005 Canadian Country Music Awards Show. Ferguson is also a recording artist...but with a slant. His albums (this is his third) feature the comic side of the man...and his sense of humour and ability to put that into a song is unparalleled in today's Canadian country music. What he does here is on a level of Nashville's Cledus T. Judd (but with a Canuck twist)
On The $#!T Hits The Fans, Wendell Ferguson is absolutely hilarious with songs like P-I-G, a parody of Tammy Wynette's D-I-V-O-R-C-E, and rib-jarring wacky tunes like Great Big Johnson, Don't Close The Door, Didn't Chew, The Barnyard Two-Step and every musician's theme song,k Capo. All the songs on the album deserve to be given some in-depth dissection here...but that would take most of the fun out of the listening.
The only thing missing here is one of those annoying 'hidden tracks'...but I'm still looking and listening. Knowing Wendell Ferguson there's just gotta be one around here somewhere.
Larry Delaney

of "Happy Songs Sell Records, Sad Songs Sell Beer"


CD Review - WENDELL FERGUSON - Happy Songs Sell Records, Sad Songs Sell Beer
Happy Songs Sell Records, Sad Songs Sell Beer
(Indie) – WHF-0203
Produced by: Wendell Ferguson

(16 Selections / Playing Time 57:44)
Hey Broken Nose / Happy Songs Sell Records, Sad Songs Sell Beer / She’s Got Herself A Redneck Now / I’ll Get Over Bluegrass (When There’s Bluegrass Over Me) / The Hangin’ Tree / Talk Hockey / Firmly On The Fence / The Thirst / 10 Foot Tall & 40 Foot Wide / Marriage Ain’t A Word, It’s A Sentence / Fools Speed Ahead / Time Flies / No, No, No Note / Round & Round / Those Were The Nights / Wildwood Flower

…into every country music fan’s life, a little fun must come !!
Leave it to Wendell Ferguson to look after that special need; and he provides a full-hour of jocular levity with this amazing collection of tongue-in-cheek. The Toronto-based Ferguson has long established himself as one of Canadian country music’s most versatile performers, much-awarded for his guitar and production skills, and while he’ll never challenge the “George’s” of country music with his vocal work, he is quite capable of delivering his own material with the special flare that it calls for.
There’s no end to the chuckles here, mostly because Wendell Ferguson is able to creatively twist a familiar country song or phrase, or situation into his own domain, inject his own play-on-words; and make it all sound fresh and funny. You get a taste of what this is all about in a brief intro skit where a rowdy shouts a request out to the singer “…hey, broken nose, play Wildwood Flower”. The singer says, “…my nose ain’t broken”. Then you here a fist planted on the singer’s beak…and then you hear some Wildwood Flower guitar pickin’ !!
Wendell Ferguson writes his songs with a warped pen…and there’s no end to the man’s wit. The liner notes in the album contain a brief description of each song, and they are as hilarious as the songs themselves. Example: for the song Firmly On The Fence, a song about procrastination; he says: “I couldn’t decide whether or not to put this one the record…”
The album’s title track tune, Happy Songs Sell Records, Sad Songs Sell Beer speaks of the dilemma facing country music recording artists today; She’s Got Herself A Redneck Now gives a whole new meaning to the term “redneck”; while Marriage Ain’t A Word, It’s A Sentence is best described by Wendell Ferguson himself when he says: “…we got married in the bathtub – it was a double ring ceremony”.
Every song is a hoot here, but there are some that really stand out. Talk Hockey is all about being Canadian; and this one deserves to get some radio airplay (not a priority in Wendell Ferguson’s world); while The Thirst and I’ll Get Over Bluegrass (When There’s Bluegrass Over Me) owe allegiance to the past hits by George Jones – The Thirst for the obvious Possum connection, and Bluegrass, for it’s likeness to the Jones classic, When The Grass Grows Over Me.
There’s plenty more in between here (just check the songlist), but the album closes with a jazz-flavored instrumental version of The Carter Family nugget Wildwood Flower; and it is probably included as an apology of sorts to the song I Liked Johnny Better (When He Left June At Home) which appeared on Wendell Ferguson’s 1998 debut collection of mayhem, I Pick Therefore I Jam.

Happy Songs Sell Records, Sad Songs Sell Beer was produced by Wendell Ferguson (who else), and recorded at various studios in S/W Ontario. His own guitar virtuosity is supported by ace-session players like John Dymond (bass), Doug Johnson (steel), Burke Carroll (dobro), Don Reed (fiddle), Steve O’Connor (keyboards) and b/g vocals by John and Michele Law, etc…and in true fashion, Wendell Ferguson pays tribute to them with his liner-note quip: “…there are many dips on the road to success; I’m so glad I got to play with them”.


of "I Pick Therefore I Jam"


Thunder Bay's "Chronicle Journal"

The current object of adoration is Katherine Wheatley, who gave a concert this past Friday evening on the Auditorium's "Stage Door" setting, ably accompanied by 6-time Canadian Country Music Association's Guitarist of the Year, Wendell Ferguson. Ferguson is the perfect foil for Wheatley. His comic number "Rocks and Trees", should be the national anthem for Northern Ontario if we ever rise up and separate. Plus anyone who can instantly turn the title of "Fly Me to the Moon" into the anguishing pun of "Fry Me up a Loon" will always hold a fond place in my memory.

From "The Record" in Guelph.
A review of Katherine Wheatley's show.
...Her set was punctuated by a couple of numbers by her accompanist, guitar ace Wendell Ferguson, a veteran of the Canadian music scene whose credits include performing with Quartette, Gordon Lightfoot and others. Ferguson regaled the Arkell audience with his humorous ditty Rocks & Trees, Trees & Rocks and Fret No More a wonderful instrumental tribute to Chet Atkins (who died last June 30), which he delivered in a liquid-lightning fingerpicking style worthy of the legendary guitarist. It was an added thrill to be able to watch Ferguson play in such an intimate concert setting.

Review by Stewart Fenwick ( Country Music and More)

I Pick Therefore I Jam—Wen Hel Freezes Music

I’ve attended several Country Music Awards weekends in Canada, and I have come to the conclusion that Wendell Ferguson is the type of guy that keeps the country scene alive. I think everyone involved in the country music scene in Canada is a personal friend of Wendell, and indeed has he has played in their band. He pops up everywhere, pickin’ his guitar for everyone.
I was particularly pleased to hear this album because it brought him to the fore, and, what a good album it is. All the songs were written (or co-written) by Ferguson—he produced it, and played a fair share of the licks.
As you’ll see from the track listing, there are some very clever song titles, and his comments on the sleeve notes are just as catchy.
Of the music, “This Unemployment Just Ain’t Working” , is particularly bouncy, “Boneless Chicken” is a superb little instrumental, “ Serious Foolin’ Around” has a neat Cajun feel to it,  whilst “If You’re Gonna Be A Cowboy”, is a duet with Prairie Oyster’s Russell De Carle, and what a great voice Russell has for lending a western touch.
This album has everything: western, Cajun, Great pickin’, fun songs . Wendell has been working on this album for a long time. It’s been worth the wait.


Wendell Ferguson - "I Pick Therefore I Jam"
by Wray Ellis

Chances are good you've never heard of Wendell Ferguson. Chances are even better though, that if you've heard any country albums recorded in Canada, you've heard his guitar playing. Ferguson has been the reining Guitarist of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards for as long as most folks can remember. He's considered by many to be the Nation-to-the-North's best country picker. So why, I asked myself, did he release an album as a singer? He's the first to admit he's got a sick voice". But, when you put I Pick Therefore I Jam into the tray and push play... it all starts to become clear. The man writes sharp, witty and head-spinningly brilliant tunes. And then there's his playing...

"I write these...silly songs. I don't know whether country radio will play 'em or not. The American counterpart of what I do, I think, is Junior Brown. Funny, quirky songs with a lot of guitar playin'." He doesn't get airplay either. He's not on the airwaves, you know. He's like a cult thing. Everybody buys him and plays him - but radio doesn't.

Already a seasoned producer and session picker, Ferguson has graduated to the ranks of songwriter with his killer debut album. "I'll Pick" includes such ironic ditties as "This Unemployment Just Ain't Workin'", "Serious Fooling Around" and an ode to the good old days before Johnny Cash met up with June Carter in a sentimental salute called "I Liked Johnny Better (when he left June at home)". If I had to make a comparison, I'd say Roger Miller meets Ray Flack. Happily, he's got a lot more in common with MARK Twain...than Shania.

"I'm drawn towards singer-songwriters, you know. John Hiatt puts a lot of time in on my stereo. That Little Village album. I know it's old, but I love that stuff. Big Al Anderson, who's written a lot of songs with Carlene Carter and a few other things, he's had some big hits. He put out his own album last year. And I sort of patterned myself in that kind of thing like, he's not a killer singer, but he writes cool songs. He's a great guitar player and the thing's got a lot of balls. Southern Culture on the Skids, they're real rangy, real white trash kind of music. And then, anything with guitar. All those old Buddy Charlton and Leon Rhodes from Ernest Tubbs' stuff. All the guitar and steel duos, Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant. I got all that. Last Christmas I got a Buck Owens box set, and I'm so into Don Rich. I just love the guy. He's the twang master! And, they had so many hits. I mean, I was always into Buck Owens but hearing them back to back it's like, oh my God! He had a lot of hits all through the 60's and 70's. My wife keeps me abreast of the modern stuff 'cause she listens to those stations. But, I love the old stuff."

Guitarists will find lots to like on this album. Beside Ferguson's fleet-fingered fret work, there are some delicious photos of some classic guitars - all from his vast collection. They're weathered and tarnished with finishes that are beautifully crackled. So, which is his favorite?

"Favourite guitar? Oh, geez, I've got too many. I love Telecasters. I've got 7 of them and everybody says why?. Some of them do different jobs. I've got one with a b-bender that I use with a lot of Duane Steele's gigs. I have a couple of old ones that I won't even take on sessions. They're just too precious. I've got some utility Teles, and I've got a couple of collector pieces that are so clean that it's like, why take them out to a gig and ruin them. I've got beautiful old Gibsons and a few nice acoustics and other stuff. Pedal steel, I've got a '64 P-bass. You know...banjo, mandolin, ukelele, lap steel, all that kind of stuff. I'm an instrument freak. I love 'em. I don't speculate though, I fall in love with them. I tell my wife 'it's an investment, honey' and then I fall in love with them. She says it's only an investment if you sell. I just never do!" (laughs)

Besides writing all the songs, arranging the charts, producing the sessions, and coordinating the printing and pressing of the disks, Wendell Ferguson is now tackling one of the toughest jobs in the music industry. He's an independant artist. That's a euphemism for struggling.

"At this point, it's hard to get distribution. I've been turned down by all the majors. Well, not ALL the majors. One of them won't return my calls. (laughs) But, you can order it on the internet. I have a web page: Or, you can write me direct and order it. If radio picks it up, that's great. If they don't, well that's okay too. I'd just like a little career. The sort of Junior Brown thing. You have a little cult following, play the major cities, sell a few records and do what you want. I know I'm not a great singer. But the material makes people laugh. And that's REALLY what it's all about."


I PickTherefore I Jam Wen Hell Freezes Music-002

This Toronto country comic is his own best critic. Well, at least he lays it all out for us listeners to agree or disagree, or at least give it a listen, and that's the clincher. Take his duet with Prairie Oyster's Russell deCarle on If You're Gonna Be A Cowboy for instance. You'll get a great bellyroll as you two-step this one.

Here's Ferguson's JAM recipe "Take 13 original songs. Add a few award winning co writers like Tim Taylor and Naoise Sheridan (Serious Foolin' Around and Cowboy For Goodbye). Pepper the songs with plenty of puns and paradox. Add a dash of double entrendre. Lace liberally with way too much humour. Mix with great musicians and solid arrangements. Stir and bring to a boil. Garnish with guest voices like Prairie Oyster's Russell deCarle or Don Neilson. Don't torget plenty of guitar. Serve it up hot and smokin. It's good anytime. Contains no angst. It has been tested on animals, and they seemed to like it."

All tracks are radio friendly. Great get-up-in-the morning material. Ferguson's wearing his country club vocal hat with that no-fooling projection that's unmistakably his musical signature. For starters, among those mentioned above, try on One Tequila, Two Tequila,ThreeTequila, Floor, Bonelesschicken and I Liked Johnny Better. As a matter of fact, take it from the top. You won't be disappointed. Self-produced and all tracks are 100 per cent MAPL. -WG


by Larry Delaney

WENDELL FERGUSON "I Pick Therefore I Jam"
Wen Hel Freezes Music-WHFCD002
Produced by Wendell Ferguson
(13 Selections-Playing time 45:18)

I'll Pick / Cowboy For Goodbye / Serious Foolin' Around / 1-Tequila, 2-Tequila, 3-Tequila...Floor / If You're Gonna Be A Cowboy / Rocks And Trees / Diamond One The One / Ruth And Lorne / Luck Of The Drawl / This Unemployment Just Ain't Workin' / I Liked Johnny Better / The Laws Of Science / Boneless Chicken

Toronto-based Wendell Ferguson is a Canadian music industry "secret" - recognized by his peers as one of the top guitar pickers in the country: a sideman for George Fox and Duane Steele; A front-man not too long ago for the group Coda The West: and known best perhaps as having one of the "quickest wits" in the game. A talented and funny guy to say the least.

While all of his talents have helped carve an "industry" niche, Wendell Ferguson remains as a relatively unheard name to radio fans -- and this typically tongue-in-cheek material may keep his anonymity intact. That would be a pity, because the songs are edgy and quirky enough to draw a chuckle while at the same time make you tap your feet...two things that seem to have gone missing in many of today's assembly line album productions.

Wendell Ferguson has written all tunes (two are co-written) and it's a challenge to catch all of his lyrical wit, irony, and double meaning catchphrases...but it's fun trying. It is probably no coincidence that there are thirteen songs on I Pick Therefore I Jam. Even the album's title has a Wendellian play on words.

Several tunes standout. There's a hilarious duet with Prairie Oyster's Russell deCarle in If You're Gonna Be A Cowboy (complete with a High Noon theme) - a video on this would be a hoot!
I Liked Johnny Better (a Johnny Cash "tribute" song, is so honest it makes you go "uh-huhî in confirming the irreverent lyric; " I liked Johnny better, when he left June at home..." Uh-Huh !!
The song Rocks And Trees was probably born from too many Trans-Canada Hwy. tours; while This Unemployment Just Ain't Workin', The Luck Of The Drawl and 1-Tequila, 2-Tequila, 3-Tequila, Floor are all Wendell Ferguson at his twisted best!!

While the lyrical content of I Pick Therefore I Jam may focus on Wendell Ferguson's natural-born bizarre side, everything else here is dead serious; from the outstanding session work by Ferguson (confirming why he is an award-winning guitarist), accompanied by the current Who's Who of Canadian session players; right down to the crafty graphics on the liner sleeve and the disc itself that will warrant Album Graphics award consideration.





I've had this CD for about 2 weeks now, and every time I even think about this gem, I smile. WENDELL was recently voted the top guitarist in Canada by the CANADIAN COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION. This will make it the fourth time for WENDELL. Is he bored by all these accolades? Not at's more of a case of "what's all the fuss about?î. The guy just loves to play. He also loves to make people laugh. One might expect with all the back-patting he might get from his peer group, he would be tempted to release a guitar album somewhere in a cross between AL DIMEOLA and CHET ATKINS. One would hardly blame him if he were to put out some super guitar album, full of flash and fury. Instead, we have songs.


Sure the lyrics are as skewed as WENDELLs humour, but even if through some miracle WENDELL could have written a solemn song lyric-wise, or gone the way of an instrumental album, the music and the musicianship would sell itself. I'm not even really sure WENDELL expects or hopes for radio play, but with the shear number of musical allies and out-and-out friends and fans he has across Canada he will sell many a thousand on that basis alone. Now as to the artwork, that in and of itself, is a joy. I am tempted to go into exactly what he's done here, but instead I've decided to just say this. We all keep hoping when we actually pull the CD off those horrible little teeth in the jewel case, (specifically made to scratch CD's within 3 times of use), we will see some inventive idea that makes us go AHHH...This time you will. as well the actual art itself is nothing short of amazing. This is a collector's item. Not because it's obscure, because it's just so darned good. My only hope is that this is just the first of many great albums by Canada's Premiere Country Guitarist.

starstarstarstarstar - "out of 5 stars"





Let me introduce this guy with a quote from his bio: "these aren't songs... they're punchlines set to music." Those words came from the president of the CCMA. Tom Tompkins, and are extremely accurate.

Wendell is a funny country singer, songwriter and guitar player. Actually, all the comedy aside, his guitar work is great, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. He's recorded with Duane Steele, Gil Grand, George Fox, Gordon Lightfoot Jane Siberry and many others. Now he's trying his hand at his own brand of country with the help of Don Neilson and Prairie Oyster's Russell deCarle. Call it a novelty album if you must, but it's pretty darn solid.

"I'll Pick" is a great start to this disc. Wendell's fingers are on fire as he "picks". In it he has to make the choice between his guitar and his girl. He says,"he's always had an eye for curved bodies and slender necks" Take that any way you like.

"Cowboy For Goodbye" is a great string song. The fiddles, mandolin and guitar are the highlights of this one. Ferguson lined up a cookin' band for this disc, and "Serious Foolin' Around" shows off his Squeeze Box player in fine fashion.

"1 Tequila, 2 Tequila, 3 Tequila...Floor is exactly the kind of song you'd expect after reading the opening quote of this review. Comedy, comedy, guitar...nuff said. I could carry on this way about each song on I Pick Therefore I Jam, but I won't. This is not just a novelty album, it's a country album with great musicians, production and songs.


"Country Jukebox"
(a German Publication)

Wendell Ferguson "I Pick Therefore I Jam"

Nach viermaliger Auszeichnong zum besten Gitar-risten in seiner Heimat war der Schritt ins Rampenlicht in eigener Person fur den in Toronto lebenden Kanadier langst uberfallig. Wendell Ferguson macht das auf gekonnte und uberzeugende Weise mit einem horenswerten Debutalbum. Mag sich auch so mancher seiner Songs beim erstmaligen Horen etwas eigentumlich anhoren, witzig und erfrischend auders sind sie allemal.Das gilt im besonderen fur das wunderbare Duette mit Russell deCarle (Prairie Oyster). Frohlich und ausgelassen singen sie in "If You're Gonna Be A Cowboy" uber den gar nicht immer so lustige Cowboy-Alltag. Eine Spassgarantie gibt es auch fur das aufrichtige Johnny Cash-Tribute "I Liked Johnny Better". Auch wenn sich so mancher Cash-Konzertbesucher am Ende doch noch bestatigt fuhlt, wenn Ferguson singt "I liked Johnny better, when he left June at home"

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