Pete Wilke | Down From Montana

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Down From Montana

by Pete Wilke

The world's first "brown grass" album; traditional, unplugged country music with a wrinkle or two.
Genre: Country: Traditional Country
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Down From Montana
3:55 $0.99
2. The Fool Has Struck Again
3:00 $0.99
3. Show Me the Way
2:51 $0.99
4. Barstool Cowboy
3:35 $0.99
5. I'd Already Taken the Fall
4:08 $0.99
6. I'll Never Stop Crying
4:50 $0.99
7. My Hornback Cowboy Boots
4:29 $0.99
8. Don't Grow Up Too Fast
4:14 $0.99
9. Locked Up in the Big Sky
3:47 $0.99
10. Sea-tac Airport Nightmare
6:58 $0.99
11. Just to Help the Moment Pass
3:41 $0.99
12. Sweet-talkin' Man
3:24 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
I wasn’t born or raised in Montana. I probably won’t die there either, unless I go pheasant hunting with Dick Cheney. But I did go to Flathead High School and I consider Kalispell to be home. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since 1966, the year I graduated. This album is my homage to Montana. Some of it comes directly out of experiences I’ve had there. Some of it doesn’t. You can chalk the rest up to good ole fashioned lament, I suppose.

As for "Brown Grass Music":

When I called Paul Scholten of County Q Productions in Nashville, I told him I had an album I wanted to do (in what we know these days as) “unplugged.” He said that was great, that he loved cutting records that way, sort of like “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” I responded; “well, let’s just say I want to do the album unplugged.” I’ve always thought of my favorite country music as being more along the lines of white trash blues, but I didn’t especially want to reveal that to Paul at the time. So I sent him the work tape and he charted out the tunes for his hand-picked blue grass studio band to play on the album. When I arrived in Nashville and went into the studio, Paul told our sound engineer, Rob Matson, that we were going to spend the day cutting a “brown grass” album.

Okay. I can live with that. Maybe that’s a little more flattering than “white trash blues.” Maybe it isn’t. Either way, it’s heartfelt and that’s the point. Enjoy it.

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"Who said lawyers don’t have a sense of humor? Pete Wilke, who pays the bills using his law degree, and fuels his creative passions with country music, hits the funny bone early with the opening lines to geographical homage in the liner notes to Down From Montana.

'I wasn’t born or raised in Montana,' says the legal adviser to independent film-makers. 'I probably won’t die there either, unless I go pheasant hunting with Dick Cheney.'

Well, that had me laughing.

And Wilke’s album made me think.

For a guy who’s sartorially regal, prim and proper, oozing syllable rich from his legal web site (, Down From Montana offers distance from the façade and gristle of law. The gavel’s gone, replaced with a guitar. The Armani suit flung for worn Wranglers. And cold legalities come replaced with a mate’s view of life and love, all shared with mellow honesty. It’s a personality revelation Wilke morphs into easily.

The album only took one play to grab my attention. It only took two plays to hook me. And with only three plays my early advice is obvious – this one’s a keeper. Wilke is a singer of substance. He’s lyrically sound, offering common and honest insights into cracked lives, losers with big thirsts, and the steady comfort of worn and reliable boots. He may be corporate, but his cowboy heart beats loud.
Move beyond the opening track, a respectful rural nod to Montana, where Wilke defies the grammatical with 'counteereeeeeee' as a lyric (it rivals Reba for fractured vowels) and you soon hit music he calls brown grass. He calls it traditional country with a twist.

'The Fool Has Struck Again,' where a tongue-tied male offends rather than comforts, is sure-fire radio fodder. With Wilke’s Down From Montana Band, a neat and tight five piece combo with a leaning to fiddle and steel, the tune brings band, singer and writer well into the spotlight. But rather than Wilke being a dud with an album of only one, possibly two repeat tracks, the surprise comes when you hear tunes like 'Barstool Cowboy.' Misery loves company and this tune, fiddle propped and harmony-rich, tells of a loner, lost and brooding, down on his luck and looking for acceptance with strangers. It’s sad. But look out into the crowd on any Saturday night anywhere and you’ll see the lonely, fingering an empty glass. A refill would be nice. A friend would be better.

'I’d Already Taken The Fall' and 'I’ll Never Stop Crying' are hurtin and achin’ fare, while 'My Hornback Cowboy Boots' (an album standout) tells of the losing side of life for a guy who’s ducking and weaving, saving his sanity with the only thing of which he’s certain – his old hornback cowboy boots. And reflective thoughts are passed on down, as a dad ponders aloud to his kid: 'I don’t know what I will do/ When you move away/ Could we pause and savor this/ Maybe you could grow up/ Some other day...' Again, Wilke brings style, honesty, and a depth in his voice and lyric that warms and wins.

We came in asking who said lawyers don’t have a sense of humor. On the closing cut, 'Sweet Talkin’ Man,' Wilke proves he has...or he’s brave. 'Get offa my back and roll onto yours/ I don’t wanna hear about me doin’ no chores/ Take the young ‘uns to school/ Fry me some eggs/ Get in the bathroom /Start shavin’ your legs...' It’s a party tune, has to be, right?

For a late-in-the-year arrival, Pete Wilke, the corporate cowboy, has found himself on my most-played list. He sings in a mellow, unobtrusive way; he writes in the understood language of the working man and his melodies are made for campfires.

His board meetings must be fun."


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Pete Wilke's vivid a gamut of real feelings - from tender and warm to angry and hurt to ultimately triumphant and celebratory."


"Wilke's songs cover a wide range of the country spectrum...everything from rousing honky-tonk to tears-in-the-beer weepers."


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Singer/songwriter Pete Wilke’s first public foray into country music was when his stage production, “Country! The Musical,” debuted at The Crazy Horse Saloon in Orange County back in the late ‘90s. A cutting-edge piece of environmental theater, the show thrilled audiences with its 6-piece country band and 6 actors who played the parts of waitresses and patrons, wandering the room as their stories unfolded, occasionally surprising an audience member by sitting down at their table to deliver a song! Creator of both the book and the 20 songs (all recorded in Nashville), Wilke was heralded as a meaningful songwriter: “Mainly through Wilke’s vivid story-songs, this impressive musical makes you care about the fate of its everyday-folk characters”; “Pete Wilke’s lyrics, book and music poke gentle fun at and pay tribute to the stereotypes of the country-music world without having to resort to parody, rather with humor and occasional pathos, both of which come across as genuine.” And so on. The stage show went on to a second later run at the Crazy Horse, followed a few years later by a filmed version, “Country Rules,” shot predominantly at Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace in Bakersfield. An experimental piece, it’s currently in post-production.

But not one to wait, Wilke decided it was time to put his own vocal spin on his songs, picking his favorites from a deep repertoire of material that runs from current to way-back-when! Cutting tracks in Nashville reunited him with producer/arranger Paul Scholten, resulting in a collection of songs that stand out in their authentic traditional-country interpretation, sung simply and knowingly from the writer who penned them. Wilke’s warm, expressive vocals will surprise those who’ve only known him as a songwriter, and country-music lovers (and others!) will surely find Down From Montana a heartfelt expression of life that belongs in their collection.


Music & Lyrics by Pete Wilke

Lead vocals: Pete Wilke

Back-up vocals: Lorraine Devon Wilke, Pete Wilke

Music produced and arranged by Paul Scholten

Vocals produced, mixed and mastered by John Perez

Back-up vocal arrangements by Lorraine Devon Wilke

Music Sound Engineer: Rob Matson

Vocal Sound Engineer: John Perez


Drums, Percussion: Paul Scholten
Acoustic Guitar: Steven Sheehan
Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar: Joe Spivey
Steel: Russ Pahl
String Bass: Don Kerce

Music produced at County Q Productions, Nashville, Tennessee
Vocals, mixing and mastering at Audioworks, Glendale, California

cd & tray card photos by: Dillon Wilke

graphic design/other photos & web design by: Louise Amandes

Special thanks to: OB's Grill & Bar, Manhattan Beach, CA and Susan Willick for supplying the location for the album photo shoot.



to write a review

Mark Wilke

Great music with thought-provoking lyrics, awesome CD Pete!
Excellent CD! The songs are heart-felt with lyrics that paint a vivid picture, with great vocals and instrumentals conveying real emotions that run the gamut from sadness to humor. Great job Pete!

Chuck and Lynn Watts

Great CD!
Heard about this CD on a local low band FM Station and I loved it! Bought it for my husband for Christmas! As a native Montanan (Lynn) and a wannabe native (Chuck), the first song is absolutely right on the money as far as leaving and coming back! Even though we've had opportunities to leave since moving back to Montana 11 years ago, the Flathead has kept us right here and marching through to great times. The more we listen to it, the more we love it!

Lynette Vance

WOW! Thanks for giving us all a copy at the reunion
I wake up singing one or the other of your songs...........It's Great, good luck with marketing it to the Radio Stations in Montana. :-)

Mandy Rainbeck

Mellow, meaningful country songs...
Found this guy on MySpace and really liked his sound...very mellow, very heartfelt, with lyrics that really touch the chords. There is, of course, the famous (infamous!) country staple of those drinkin' man sorta songs, but what stands out are the "wrinkles" he talks about: Sea-Tac Airport Nightmare is a unique take on heartbreak and loneliness and Don't Grow Up Too Fast will make any parent get a lump. Give this guy a listen...real smooth country going down!

Lynette Vance

WOW! Thanks for giving us all a copy at the reunion
Thanks Pete. I think it's a great CD and am seriously planning on buying my Montana relatives a copy for Christmas.
We should have had you singing and playing at the reunion, instead of that LOUD group, that chased us all away too early.
Lynette Vance

j. bwin

perfection of intention very tasty inspiration
i love this stuff. the purity comes right thru these songs. very inspiring. this is simply one of those perfect albums. mr wilke's story telling brings it on home through a journey of places, feelings and yearning.

Susan Morgenstern

Delicious foray into County Music
This is a delicious foray into County Music for both newcomers and devoted fans of the genre. The vocals are warm and sweet, like beehive honey dripping slowly on a summer's day. The lyrics hit every emotion and the music is just downright easy-listening in the best possible way. I'm an urban baby, and felt like I was breathing easier as soon as this music started to play. Sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy!

Sandra Wilson

It has quickly become a favorite.
Down From Montana has been on our CD changer for two months and we STILL stop to listen when Pete's songs come up. I love the smooth, easy sound of his Brown Grass creations that range from odes to the Big Sky Country (Down from Montana), personal thoughts (Barstool Cowboy) and relationships (The Fool Has Struck Again). Then he tucks in a song (Don't Grow Up Too Fast) that puts to words what many of us have felt. This CD is a gem and I'm glad to have it.