Wheatfield formed in
October, 1971, as a folk duo by Pete Wolfe and Will Hobbs, who met in the Odyssey
Coffee House in Eugene, Oregon. Their first impromptu rendition of "Helplessly Hoping" met with immediate
applause, and the two decided they had something special and worth
pursuing. Within a week of forming, they were featured on a radio
program on alternative music station KZEL, and quickly received many
They added a
bass player and a lead guitarist in the next few weeks, and finally
a drummer the following
Spring. As new musicians came aboard, they added their own musical
styles to the group’s sound,
and Wheatfield developed its signature penchant for musical variety,
covering folk, bluegrass, country, country rock, rock and roll, and
even some jazz. One
prerequisite of all new members was that they sing, further
from most other bands at the time. Most members also played multiple
1972, Wheatfield put out a 45, which received modest airplay in a
few markets. The A side was a
war protest song written by Will, that was also featured on an album
recorded at the Second Annual Willamette Valley Folk Festival.
reputation grew, so did its geographical reach, ultimately covering
the entire Northwest, from British Columbia to Montana, Idaho, and
all over Washington and Oregon. By the mid-70’s, Wheatfield
was said to be the top unsigned band in the Northwest. Wheatfield
played clubs, colleges, standalone concerts and festivals. Besides
headlining in all the venues where Wheatfield played, they also frequently shared the stage with other
popular artists, including Doc Watson, Maria Muldaur, Seals and Crofts, Asleep At The Wheel,
Utah Phillips, Norton Buffalo, and even the Ramones.
One weekend in Seattle, Wheatfield
was the backup band for Bo Diddley.
In 1980, Wheatfield released a
self-titled album, produced by Norton Buffalo, which also received
modest airplay. The songs from the album and 45 are currently
available on a CD, which can be ordered through this web site. In
December of 1980, Wheatfield was honored with a prime time TV
special that was aired all over Oregon by Portland’s KOIN TV.
In 1982, with increased
interest in their growing families, and weary of constant travel,
the group disbanded. Occasionally, in the ensuing years, the band
would briefly re-form for some specific gig, and in 2002, after a
reunion to benefit their drummer, Ken Sawyer, who had fought cancer
successfully but was left with
massive medical bills, the band decided to get back together.
Over the years, there were several personnel changes. Here is
a short summary of the significant members of the band, including the
instruments they play or have played over the years:
Pete Wolfe, 1972 – 1981, rejoined for the present band.
Cofounder of Wheatfield. Bass, banjo, guitar, spoons, vocals.
Will Hobbs, 1972 to present. Cofounder of Wheatfield. Guitar,
mandolin, flute, harmonica, saxophone, vocals, songwriter.
Paul Douglas, 1975 to present. Guitar, keyboards, fiddle,
harmonica, clarinet, vocals.
Kerry Canfield, 1977 to present. Keyboards, guitar, lap steel,
accordion, trumpet, vocals, songwriter.
Steve Aubrey, 2005 to present; Drums, vocals.
"Snead" Freedman, 1971 – 1972, Bass guitar, vocals.
Don Ross, 1971 – 1975, Guitar, vocals.
Rex Stallion, real name Bruce Endicott, 1972 – 1978, Drums,
John Powell, 1973 – 1977, Keyboards, guitar, trumpet,
Kelly Stites, 1981 – 1982, Bass guitar, vocals,
Susan Scholz, 1981 – 1982, Vocals.
Kenny Sawyer, 1978 to 2005; Drums, vocals.