Wooden Eye has garnered praise for its seamless blend of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, folk and country since the release of its debut "Don’t Ask" in the summer of 2008. With over 70 years of musical experience between them, guitarist Bob Halperin and harp player Mike “Bullfrog” Rogers, whose chemistry, according to Matt Kanner of The Wire, can light up a room with “magnesium sparks,” draw from the best of what American roots music has to offer, intertwining country and blues to produce a sound that is as beautifully sublime as it is gritty and nasty. Filling out the bottom, the rhythm section of Dan MacLellan and Joe Rogers brings the swing of The Band and the drive and thud of the best Chess Records sides to Wooden Eye’s sound. This tight quartet extracts the best of American music, “deftly welding their amassed experience” to create something special. (The Wire)
Wooden Eye’s recording, Spare Parts, Cans and Bottles, highlighted the timeless songwriting of Mike Rogers. His evocative story songs, which seem to have at least one autobiographical foot in the ring, can only come from someone who was born at the tail end of the Great Depression and has experienced American life first-hand for a majority of the 20th Century, as well as the first couple of decades of the 21st.
Many of his best songs are like taking a trip through the underbelly of the American dream, from growing up as “Trailer Trash” (a song title) on the Mississippi River and moving to California in search of a better life to “Star on Loan,” about a waitress working at a small eatery in NYC who claimed to teach Janis Joplin how to “sing and shake and moan.” With songs like these, as well as new offerings such as the vivid portrait of the “Acrobat Man,” who entertained 1950s “beach bums” and “surfer dudes” with his feats of gymnastic prowess in the sand, and “Night Drop,” which details a drug rendezvous in the Bahamas, Wooden Eye has the view of life unlike most other bands.
But while “Bullfrog” paints vibrant pictures with the keen eye of the best folk artists, it’s his own harmonica playing, along with Halperin’s rhythm, lead, fingerpicked and slide guitar, and the solid pulse of bassist MacLellan and drummer Joe Rogers that are the perfect backdrop. They take what are basically folk songs and add their distinctive shake, rattle and roll to the mix.
With the release of their latest album, “Corduroy Road” the band has taken their writing, interpretation, musicality and production prowess to new heights, demonstrating their growth as a unit and creating a true musical ‘tour de force’. The energy found on the new album is readily translated to the live stage. Quite simply, Wooden Eye are an absolute force of nature in front of a live audience. Wind them up; let them go, watch them soar.