What: Cheryl Wheeler and Kenny White
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday Where: Clay Center's Walker Theater
Tickets: $18 Info:www.theclaycenter.org or 304-561-3570
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Describing Cheryl Wheeler's show as being merely musical is unfair.
It's really a three-for-one deal: music, stories and comedy. And there's lots of comedy because the longtime singer-songwriter finds lots of humor in everyday life.
In the intimate setting of the Clay Center's Walker Theater Saturday night, you're likely to hear her explain how she found inspiration in life events such as applying for a home mortgage or hearing that passengers on a stranded cruise ship were treated to a helicopter-dropped care package that included Pop-Tarts and Spam.
As she was out walking her dog one day, the tune to the Mexican Hat Dance got stuck in her head, and she decided to create a tongue-twisting song about potatoes using that melody. The expression "shut your pie hole" became the title to a song, "Shutcher Piehole," which Wheeler wrote envisioning fans would shout out "Shutcher Piehole!" in requesting it.
She could have been a stand-up comedian if her career had taken another turn. Wheeler even finds humor in that suggestion.
"I'd have to be a sit-down comedian. I'm 61. I ain't standing up," she said.
A string of singers have covered her work, too, including Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks, Bette Midler, Dan Seals and Kenny Loggins.
A native of the Baltimore area, Wheeler came from a musical family, although she's the only one who pursued it as a job — or a not-real job, as she likes to think of it.
"On car trips I can remember singing — we sang in four-part harmony all the time," she said.
She has memories of sitting down with "A Child's Book of Verses" and "The Golden Book of Poetry" and making up melody lines to them. In the fifth grade when she was assigned to write a poem, she was so inspired she turned in three, and the teacher loved them so much he asked her to copy them over so he could submit them to the children's magazine "Highlights."