Local Music Review – Sam Wooden, “29”

by Bridgette Stocks

29 Front Cover - Final Jpeg File

For me, the measure of good art is the ability to tell a story. Art can come in many forms, including writing, painting, or music, but no matter what medium it comes in, I need to be told a story. Storytelling, when its done right, will help you make a connection, it will make you feel something. My good pal Sam Wooden’s recently released EP titled “29” will definitely make you feel, in fact, it will make you feel all the feels.
Sam Wooden is a great performer, always has been. The dude has been rocking the Sunday Funday music scene in New Diggings since he was a little kid. If you have seen him play anywhere in the last 5 years, its likely that the place was wall-to-wall packed and eventually ran out of a high quality beer such as Old Milwaukee or Busch Light at some point in the night. Wooden is a bonafide popular draw for any local watering hole in our area.
While I admire his performance and vocal abilities, its his songwriting skills that are the most impressive to me. I already mentioned that Sam is a great storyteller, and the reason for that is his ability to write so genuinely and honestly about stories and situations that each of us have been in. His songwriting is relatable. Even though this is technically a country album, you don’t feel like he’s over-reaching to write about a stereotypical “country” theme, or making a point to ensure that everything rhymes. What Sam writes about is real. It takes a lot of courage to write so honestly and put it out there for people to judge and critique, but Wooden does it boldly.
“Don’t Relive Us Again” and “I Call Home” are my favorite songs off of “29”. “I Call Home” is a song for anyone who has moved away from home but still appreciates what home represents and understands why that is so important. If you are one of those people who moves away from the area to go to college or to chase a job and can’t stop talking about how you don’t understand how people come back here to live, just go ahead and skip this song. You won’t get it.
“Don’t Relive Us Again” is the star of “29” for me. This is a damn good song. Who hasn’t lived this song at some point in their life? Everyone can relate to this one, because everyone has that one relationship. You know the one I’m talking about. But I have never heard a song so perfectly capture the feelings of making sure that you don’t fall back into that comfortable place because you’re scared of being alone or moving on. It’s so easy to do, so tempting, but also so painful and a guaranteed emotional setback. And Sam nails all of those feelings in this song. Well done sir.
I won’t pretend to know a lot about the technical aspects of music, as I’m more into the songwriting than anything else. I just know what I think sounds good, and Sam sounds good on his debut EP. A lot of the credit goes to Wooden himself, but also to the multi-talented recording ninja master Eli Rhodes. Check out Rhodes’ credits on the next page….for real, is there anything he can’t do?
Now get out there and go buy “29”! In the meantime, here are some of my favorite Sam Wooden lyrics:

From “Don’t Relive Us Again”

And for your sake and maybe mine,

let’s not do this everytime,

you’re alone, you’re afraid,

or you don’t know where to turn

From “I Call Home”

So If I’m stuck in some city full of light

or if I can see every star in the sky

I know somewhere,

is a place at least in my mind,

and I go there almost all the time


Local Music Review – Point Five

by Bridgette Stocks

Point Five

On Saturday, January 24th, I ventured to the Pecatonica Tap House in Warren, Illinois to catch some live music from Point Five, an Americana acoustic band from Mineral Point, Wisconsin.  After hearing Point Five play, and being a regular visitor to the Pecatonica Tap House, I’m convinced that there could not have been a better pairing in band/venue.  Pec’s Tap House has an intimate, rustic, and warm décor, and these same adjectives can also be used to describe Point Five as a band.  And to top it all off, Point Five’s new album is titled “Pecatonica”.  It was a match made in acoustic heaven!

Point Five played to and charmed a full house that night at the Tap House.  The band is made up of Aaron Dunn (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Monica Dunn (lead vocals), Carole Spelic (upright bass), Meghan Dudle (fiddle), and Paul Biere (dobro/banjo).  Andy Hatch (mandolin) is also a band member, but appeared to be absent from the Tap House gig.  While I love the sound of the mandolin, I hardly had time to miss it after Point Five started playing.  These musicians are very talented, seamlessly moving through their original set list, stopping only to provide quick descriptions of the songs and their origins.  The band has a natural ease about them, making their overall sound very complementary of each other’s individual talents.  After working through their original stuff, particularly songs from their new album “Pecatonica”, Point Five ended the night with some popular crowd-pleasers like Bob Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel.”  (Yes, “Wagon Wheel” is a Bob Dylan song…..NOT a Darius Rucker song!)

Point Five was selling copies of their new cd at the Tap House and I am so glad that I bought one.  Confidently showcasing their own brand of bluegrass music, Point Five’s new album “Pecatonica” is about love, life, and family.  From start to finish, the cd’s songs are genuine, honest, and sincere, which makes the band that much more alluring for me.  From “Train Long Gone’s” song of heartbreak and longing to the cheeky “Always in the Mood”, the cd drew me in instantly.  The song “Pecatonica” was one of my favorites on the cd, and the live version did not disappoint.  (Speaking of the live version, I just have to take this opportunity to say that it was pretty cool to be at the Pecatonica Tap House in Warren, drinking Pecatonica Beer, listening the song “Pecatonica” from Point Five’s new cd “Pecatonica”….with Point Five’s very own Monica.  Sorry, I had to!)  The song’s relatable lyrics ring true for me, as I am sure they do for many others:

We all need a place/a rest from the race/I think you all know what I mean/We could steal away/from our everyday grind/there’s nothing to fear/don’t tell me you’re too busy/’cause I’m dizzy with life/its buzzing in my ear

If I had to choose a favorite from the cd, I would go with “Hills of Wisconsin.”  Like the song says, there’s just something about it!

Did you miss Point Five at the Pecatonica Tap House?  Don’t worry, they are back in our area this weekend and again in February!

January 31st – Concert at the Eronel – Dubuque, Iowa

February 28th – The Cornerstone – Galena, Illinois

 Find out more about Point Five online at

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