Written by Hope Urban
Sean Wheeler & the Reluctant Messengers opened the Flesheaters/Alley Cats Echoplex bill 1/18, and if you were unlucky enough to miss them, you’ll want to fix that in the near future.
Plying spirituals that have been filtered through broken glass, the combined history of the three frontmen is one that would have taken lesser souls. I’m guessing reluctant messengers refers to the power that they’ve had to embrace to stay sober: they are reluctant messengers of God. One could dismiss this as more in a long line of white boys mining the rich history of gospel and soul (my companion for the evening compared their sound to Tom Waits, who has also received the same criticism), but in this case, what they have survived and continue to overcome gives their music the intensity and authenticity of the gleam of gold shining through dirt.
It is a skilled homage, no dilettantish dash of the hat. Go see them carry their message.
The Reluctant Messengers are: Sean Wheeler, vocals (Throwrag); Billy Pippin, guitar (Jimmy Vaughn); Gregory Boaz, stand-up bass (Dave Alvin, Tex & the Horseheads, so many more); Danny McGough, Hammond B3 (Social Distortion, too many to list).