I first starting listening to Cheryl Wheeler close to 30 years ago. She was a young(ish) singer-songwriter who, I'm guessing, I first heard on WXPN (which played a whole lot more folk / alt-country music back then). And I saw her in concert way back in the early 1990s somewhere in the Philadelphia area (although, sadly, I don't remember where).
Her songs run the gamut. Some are serious, sweet ballads, like When Fall Comes to New England, which is one of the prettiest songs you'll ever hear. While others are funny and sarcastic tunes, usually with a political bent, like Makes Good Sense To Me, a political satire song written in the 80s that's still relevant today, and Don't Forget the Guns, an upbeat tune that they would never play on country radio.
The second time that I saw Cheryl Wheeler live was last July in Bryn Mawr. And, in a stunning development, Matt Lyons and I opened for her. It was pouring rain that night. The crowd was not exactly overflowing. But some hearty souls did show up. And, while my commute to the Bryn Mawr Gazebo was somewhere around 10 minutes, Cheryl made a eight hour or so drive from somewhere up in New England. She was greeted by Matt and me and few others who were setting up for the show. She was concerned about her guitar getting wet. And she was finicky at her sound check. And then, because it was raining, she thought about just sitting under the gazebo, behind Matt and me, while we played. But she thought better of it and decided to go sit in her car for our 30 minute set.
After Matt and I finished our set, Cheryl braved the rain and played a one hour or so set to the even sparser crowd. She spent at least half of her show telling stories. Funny stories. And she sang a bunch of songs from her newish album called Greetings: Cheryl Wheeler Live.
Yes, Cheryl Wheeler has changed a lot from when I first saw her. She never was a traditional country singer, and she never pretended to play that part. But, well, she's changed - - like we all have. She's still quite the storyteller, she has a host of great songs, she is a fine guitar player, and she still has a very good voice.
One of the songs that Cheryl Wheeler did not play in Bryn Mawr is one of my favorites. It's called Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar. So, for Song 32, here are two versions of Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar, the first from Cheryl's earlier days in the mid-1990s or so, and the second from just a few years ago. You'll see the difference. No doubt.