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Russian Drama, Wednesday, Dec. 21 at WilliB's

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Books are not to be judged by their covers, but a provocative title can influence whether one even gets picked up—the same can be said of bands. The name Russian Drama definitely warranted a listen, and the payoff was definitely worth it.

Russian Drama (soundcloud.com/russiandrama) is the moniker of local musician Gavin Wheeler, who describes the project as "a mix of folk, jazz, rockabilly and blues elements to produce morbid tunes about love and death." Whether Wheeler is covering classics like "House of the Rising Sun" and "Stray Cat Strut," or strumming something like his haunting original rocker "What I've Got," it's clear he has talent. From melodies and arrangements to instrumentation and experimentation, Wheeler's delivery feels authentic, and his songs are clever, well-crafted and totally ear-wormy—we aren't the only ones who think so. Wheeler, who will have a new album out in 2017, recently appeared on an episode of NCIS: New Orleans, performing an instrumental version (on violin) of "What I've Got." What he's got is what it takes to be a star.

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