Music News

Reverend Billy C. Wirtz

More Jeff Foxworthy than Victor Borge, R&B standup comic Reverend Billy C. Wirtz lampoons the double-wide culture while honoring the gospel and barrelhouse styles of our piano-banging forefathers: Big Maceo, Otis Spann, and especially Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Goateed, tattooed and with a flowing red mullet, Wirtz seems an unlikely spiritual shepherd -- one as comfortable mimicking Jimmy Swaggart as he is leading a rousing benediction with a mouthful of Wonder Bread. Never short on shtick or facial contortions (Wirtz used to incite wrestling fans as the manager for Diamond Dallas Page), the 51-year-old tickles the ivories like a man possessed. With a musical resumé that includes stints in Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band as well as Evan Johns and the H-Bombs, Wirtz sings odes to marital aids, lava lamps and the Waffle House. After a crippling bout of kidney stones, the good Reverend returns to the pulpit, tweaking Satan with songs of faith and inflammation. Can we get an "Amen"?
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John La Briola