Until Brent Wohlberg went to see the 2005 Johnny Cash movie "Walk the Line", he considered himself a dyed-in-the-wool rock musician.
But after hearing Cash classics such as “Fulsome Prison Blues,” something clicked.
“It was like holy crap, this is really cool,” Wohlberg said. “This is how I want to write.”
Shortly after watching the movie, he played a few Cash tunes at a Noelville gig.
“You could see that everybody immediately identified with the song, identified with Johnny Cash, and they identified with country music,” he said.
Wohlberg's flirtation with country music wasn't just a passing fad, though.
His first solo album, released about a decade ago, featured rock music.
But now he's seen the light, and his second solo album, which he released on Valentine's Day, is pure country. It's not modern country either, but an old-fashioned sound reminiscent of Cash and his contemporaries.
The album, entitled "Don't Sell The Car", features songs with names such as “Big Red Rooster” and “The Tractor Song.”
Wohlberg is accompanied on the album by a veritable who's who of the local music scene, including Sarah Matt, Peter Learn, Donny Reed, Brian Quebec, Kevin Closs, Sean Barrette and Chris Leblanc.
Along with himself, this group of musicians make up the band he's dubbed The Blazing Elwoods.
“I was thinking about how cool it would be to have Sudbury's most awesome musicians playing on this album,” Wohlberg said.
“I'm kind of a shy guy. The idea of asking them was kind of hard for me. I thought 'As if they're going to want to spend their time coming over to play on these songs,' and they did.”
Owning his own music studio, Artifact Media, for the past 14 years, certainly helped, too. Unfortunately, he's been so busy producing everyone else's music that he hasn't had much time to work on his own album.
“It's been a three-year process,” Wohlberg said. “I found that I can't move on until this is done and out. Now that it's done and I'm able to go to the stage of selling it and promoting it, it's a huge weight off my shoulders.”
He said songwriting is something that comes naturally to him — after all, he's been doing it since he was a kid. Wohlberg said he used to record his own songs on his dad's tape recorder.
“I was never good enough to play anyone else's music, so I just started writing my own songs, and that kind of worked out well for me,” he said.
The release of "Don't Sell The Car" comes at an exciting time in Wohlberg's career.
He's one-third of the band The Puckhogs, which recently came in second place in the CBC Hockey Night in Canada Song Quest contest with their song “For the Love of the Game.”
The group is now selling the song online for $1 to benefit the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program, to help underprivileged kids join organized sport and recreational programs.
Wohlberg said The Puckhogs' success says a lot about Sudburians.
“Without the Sudbury community, it wouldn't have happened, because it was vote-based.”
Those interested in downloading “For the Love of the Game” can do so by visiting www.thepuckhogs.bandcamp.com.
Wohlberg's album is available for purchase locally at Chapters and La Fromagerie Elgin, or online on iTunes, www.facebook.com/blazingelwoods, or www.cdbaby.com/cd/theblazingelwoods.
Did you know?
The cover for "Don't Sell the Car" features a picture of Wohlberg's dad's 1968 Dodge Polara, which is willed to him. One of the songs on the album, also called "Don't Sell the Car", is inspired by his love of the car.