When you hear the name Roger Alan Wade you’re likely to hear somewhere before or after “Johnny Knoxville’s cousin.” Not that anything is wrong with being Knoxville’s cousin, or even maybe using that to help your music career, but Roger has songs numbering in the hundreds. He’s written for Johnny Cash, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Hank Jr., and his hero, Waylon Jennings, songs like Country State of Mind. Roger is a bona fide top tier country music songwriter, and Knoxville has talked about his older cousin being a big influence and inspiration on him.
So when I saw Roger last weekend at the Dallas musINK Festival, I was going in trying to find the real Roger Alan Wade; famous associated names aside. Roger has been writing and performing songs for years, but in the last few has he been recording his own songs and perfecting his own show.
Roger isn’t one of these songwriters whose a songwriter only because they don’t know their way around a stage. He worked the crowd, and played his songs one after the other with little or no stopping in between, Willie Nelson style. And he modulated the end of songs so the chords would abut with the next song. His set started out with a few of what he calls his “stupid” songs. I like to call them his funny songs. The wit of songs like “All Likkered Up” and “Poontang” got the crowd to pay attention to this random guy on a massive outdoor concert stage with just his guitar.
This is the thing about Roger Alan Wade: He’s written such a wide range of songs, but the songs he’s known for in his solo career are the funny ones. But these songs on their own can’t just be written off as gimmicks. Their wit goes without saying, but the reason they are so funny is because they’re rooted deep in these universal truths that speak to us all. If you can’t identify directly with them, you know somebody who can, and this makes them rise a measure above simple donkey humor.
But then once Roger has your attention, once he’s got you laughing and feeling emotion, he pulls out a completely serious, heavy-hearted song that hits you like a dagger. You let your guard down, and Roger waltzes right in. Very few other artists have such a diverse catalog to call on so that they can run you through such a range of emotions in a set, and even fewer know how to use it as adeptly as Wade. That is what makes seeing Roger Alan Wade live a unique experience.
When you walk away from a live Roger Alan Wade show, you don’t walk away saying, “I just saw Johnny Knoxville’s cousin,” you say, “I just saw Roger Alan Wade.”
Below are some songs I recorded from the concert. They turned out to be all serious ones, but if you like the funny ones they can be found on YouTube too. After the show me and Roger talked for over an hour, and the interview will be coming very soon.