The buzz surrounding Wilcox’s self-released 1987 debut, The Nightshift Watchman, garnered the Ohio-born/North Carolina-based songwriter a contract with A&M Records, and his major label debut, How Did You Find Me Here, was a minor masterpiece, eventually selling over 100,000 copies mostly by word of mouth.
Since then, Wilcox has attempted to recreate the lightning-in-a-bottle effect of How Did You Find Me Here with varying degrees of success.
His later work, particularly 2006’s Vista and 2008’s solo acoustic Airstream, came the closest, perhaps because they seemed effortless, relaxed and unforced. And for those who require a professional endorsement, local luminary Ric Hordinski has worked with Wilcox for many years; he produced 2002’s Into the Mystery and 2005’s Out Beyond Ideas (a musical translation of sacred poetry and collaboration with Wilcox’s wife, Nance Pettit) and recorded last year’s Airstream, named after the trailer in which Wilcox, Pettit and their son Nate traveled and lived for two years. (Hordinski opens Wilcox’s Covington show.)
Early on, Wilcox was favorably compared to the likes of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and John Gorka, but his 13 good-to-great studio albums (including his latest, this year’s excellent Open Hand), two live albums and best-of package (he’s never really had any “hits” to speak of) have proven that Wilcox should no longer be measured against those Folk/Pop icons as an acolyte but can stand with them as a peer and an influence in his own right.
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