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From historic downtown Plymouth, Indiana, where the Lincoln Highway and Michigan Road cross the banks of the beautiful Yellow River, it's The Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour. It airs the first Monday of the month at 7 PM on 88.1 WVPE.

Monday Night Special: John Bahler Sings His Heart Out on the Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour

John Bahler Sings His Heart Out on the Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour
Wild Rose Moon Productions couldn’t have conceived of the Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour without our music producer, John Bahler. We had seen him perform at Open Mic right after we opened shop in historic downtown Plymouth and learned that he and members of his family band had been involved in the Indiana State Fair’s reenactment of the old WLS National Barn Dance. The Barn Dance had run continuously from 1925 to 1959 and had been a precursor to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. John’s clean-as-a-whistle cross-picking on our stage just mesmerized everyone, and his love for singing western-swing songs from the Sons of the Pioneers really sealed the deal. We knew then and there that John had the capacity to anchor the show, not only with his musicianship but with his capacity for shaping memorable tunes.
John has the ability to create a song out of any subject that excites him, and this week’s radio show continues to prove that point. His first song, “Postwoman,” was written for his brother, who fell for the woman delivering his mail each day. In the song, the protagonist embraces an everyday ritual of going outside to pull weeds, edge the walk, or work in the garden at the very time his mail person would be dropping letters in his mailbox. The refrain, sung with John’s trademark sincerity and powerful delivery, propels the song toward folk opera: “Right now is the right time, Right now is the right time…to be outside … to be outside!”
The second song, “Draw Knife,” calls on John’s memory of building a Swiss cabin with his brother and working the logs together. In the beautiful chorus, he sings, “The callus on my heart, will work out through my hands–I am a steady kind of man.” It’s a paean to the transformative power of a certain kind of work that transforms both the muscles and the heart at the same time: “A thousand heartaches like hickory they fell/and I will love you after all.”
After the break, John celebrates the national resonator guitar he’s chosen to play with a cover of “St. Louis Blues,” by W.C. Handy. Articulated by his fine blues picking and a honeyed voice that is filled with an effortless tremolo, the song unfolds: “I hate to see that evenin’ sun go down, it makes me feel I’m on my last go-round”. John’s last number, “I Don’t Know What it Takes”, further bears out this idea of John’s songs operating on a dramatic stage. The protagonist struggles as John’s voice gently begins the song and the music climbs slowly in little steps as each word hesitates before the next: “I have walked this life alone/I’ve had no one to lean upon/and I don’t know what it takes to love.” And by the end of the story, the rhythm drives hard and his voice soars to a fever pitch: “But if love should come down on me/I would fall, I would fall to my knees/I would cry to the lord above/ because I don’t know/ what it takes/ to love.” It’s a pure cry of anguish and emotion, a call for transformation and for help. It’s so human, it’s divine.
You can catch all these songs, the Shoot the Moon Quiz Show, and host George Schricker singing his song, “Precious Time”, on this week’s episode of the show, airing on September 5th, Labor Day, at 7 p.m. Just tune into WVPE 88.1 FM, relax and enjoy the Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour, “A Home for Humans.”
(John Bahler photo by Matthew Bergmoser)