Dallas — Like every good song, country or otherwise, Ryan Adam Wells’ Beers About Songs, playing now at Dallas Solo Fest, has hidden depths.
On its face, the show appears to be a funny song-and-story routine that’s part autobiography and part love song to his oldest friend, his longest love, the “nectar of the gods,” as Wells puts it—beer. It’s not something that would be out of place on any radio station playing Willie, Waylon, and the boys.
But throw in a few drinks, a few songs, and some laughs, and it becomes so much more heartbreaking than the typical Nashville formula of loving the girl, losing the girl, and drinking to forget her.
Wells certainly embraces the visible persona of the hard-loving, hard-drinking crooner—pearl-snap shirt, cowboy boots that have seen some miles, growler of Texas-appropriate dark beer at his elbow—but he wastes no time revealing the tender heart under the cowboy country veneer.
A self-professed nerd from an early age, Wells relates that he is someone who is less apt to get into bar fights than edge away from the fray. That’s an important point to remember as he starts to peel away the layers of the proverbial onion through his intertwined music and memories.
Addiction flares up in many forms, whether chasing oblivion and escape through whiskey or staying in a relationship because you don’t know how to walk away. Beer is a fickle mistress (as are ex-girlfriends) and as Wells’ story spirals from the first bloom of young love to the bitter sting of lust, the swing of a fist into the bottom of a bottle, drinking becomes both his champion and his chain.
Wells swings between humor and hurt almost effortlessly, interspersing funny tales of his exploits as “Dollar Wells,” a nickname that he comes by honestly during a bender of night at Coyote Ugly, with the darker tale of a doomed relationship and his escape from a cycle of abuse. His masterful guitar work combines well with his rich, twangy voice and sets the stage, forecasting the mood of his back-and-forth storytelling with gentle, major key strumming or harsher, bluesy chords.
For all that Wells claims to be bad at confrontation, he confronts his past demons in a delicate and purposeful way, illustrating how no one is immune to abuse, addiction, or heartbreak—and how sometimes things get a little clearer when you put down the whiskey, pick up the guitar, and don’t forget to trust your oldest friend.
» Beers About Songs continues with the following performances:
- 9pm | Saturday, June 4
- 7pm | Sunday, June 5
» Click here to see our listing for Beers About Songs
» Our interview with Ryan Adam Wells
» To see a full schedule of shows, go here
» See our DSF special section for more interviews, reviews and more