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Best Country Band 

The Wilders

Betse, Ike, Phil, Nate ... thank you. (If you, the reader, are confused by this cryptically brief entry in a sea of laudatory verbiage, then allow us to clarify. The Wilders have been around for nearly ten years, playing the kind of old-time country and gospel that inspired Hank Williams to don hat and pick up guitar. Dressed in classy suits and cowboy hats -- except for Betse, of course -- the Wilders could be some kind of museum exhibit or amusement park sideshow. But they've won so many fans with their adorable yet hardcore-hollerin' live show that, instead of milking nostalgia, they're packing clubs up and down both coasts. If you can't imagine people actually going out at night to see three outrageous bumpkins gathered around a single microphone belting out hot-water harmonies and trading licks like clockwork over a big-bull bass, then Lord help you. So it's both for being so damned good and for staying true to their hometown that we doff our hats and raise a jug of corn liquor to the Wilders.)

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