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Cheryl Wheeler to perform at Ashland's Unitarian Center

Ashland St. Clair Productions presents singer/songwriter/comedian Cheryl Wheeler in concert at the Unitarian Center, Fourth and C Streets, Ashland, on Saturday, Oct. 21, 8 p.m. Opening for Wheeler is Nancy and Lisa Spencer.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $22 at the door, $10 for teens 12 to 17 and free for under 12 with a paying adult.? Tickets are available at the Music Coop in the A Street Marketplace, on-line at or by calling 535-3562.

Legendary as both a performer (she's a folk festival favorite for her sharp wit as well as her achingly beautiful singing), and a songwriter ("Addicted" was a country hit for Dan Seals, and "Aces" was a top ten country hit for Suzy Bogguss), Wheeler, as Boston Globe writer Scott Alarik describes, "writes some of the prettiest, most alluring and intelligent ballads on the modern folk scene.

"On the other hand, Wheeler is a master of quick wit. With her observational humor, she has written a number of songs describing the utter ridiculousness of the world around us.

"Cheryl Wheeler has to be seen to be appreciated. Nothing you read and nothing you hear from her albums prepares you for how good a performer she is.

From her albums you can tell that she is a gifted songwriter with a beautiful voice. From other people's comments about her you can learn that she is a natural story teller with a fantastic sense of humor. But until you see her in person, you never really believe what you've been told about her. Besides, almost half of the songs she does during her shows haven't been recorded!

" ... Cheryl's concerts are more like what you would find at a comedy club than expect to find at a folk music concert. She will tell a story that has you rolling in the aisles, and then sing a song that leaves you wiping tears from your eyes. She will talk about some serious current event, and then sing a song that will have you howling with laughter. Her entire concert is a emotional roller coaster." Bill Pringle, fan and website host

Although primarily classified as a folk singer/songwriter, Wheeler has been covered by a number of country music artists, such as Dan Seals, Suzy Bogguss, Kathy Mattea, Sylvia, and Garth Brooks, as well as artists such as Peter, Paul, and Mary, Bette Midler, Melanie, and cabaret singer D.C. Anderson.

Wheeler's song "If It Were Up to Me", with the closing line "If it were up to me, I'd take away the guns" got nationwide attention shortly after the Columbine High School massacre. Wheeler released that recording into the public domain to exempt radio stations from paying royalties (it was being played every hour near the high school), and Rounder Records ran a promotional campaign to donate to the Brady Campaign each time the song was played on AAA radio stations.

With her 2005 CD Defying Gravity, Wheeler released her first CD of new material since the 1999 Sylvia's Hotel. According to Roberta Schwartz's review for the Folk Acoustic Music Exchange, Defying Gravity is a stunning portrait of an artist at midlife; at the top of her game. She goes on to say that "One thing about Cheryl Wheeler that is often overlooked is her absolute joy in and celebration of the natural world. Through her vivid lyrics we take a walk through fields and rivers, quiet creeks, sleeping cats, grazing deer, blue sky and fading light."

Schwartz also observes that "Few have the observational gifts and the ability to describe the human character in the small, pointed details that fall off the pen of Cheryl Wheeler in songs like "Alice."

Wheeler was raised in Timonium, Md., and began playing the guitar and ukulele as a child. She first performed professionally at a local restaurant, but soon graduated to clubs in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas. In 1976, she moved to Rhode Island, where she became a prot of country-folk singer-songwriter Jonathan Edwards, for whom she initially served as bass player.