Tuesday afternoon at around 1 pm, Michael James Wheeler. Walked into the Visitor’s Center at the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau. A few minutes after entering, Julie Roller-Weeks, director of the CVB, approached Wheeler. While conversing with him, Roller-Weeks discovered he is an artist who wrote a song that features Abilene. On the spot, she asked if Wheeler wanted to perform his song. Wheeler agreed. About 10 minutes later, Wheeler sat on a stool in the Alamo Saloon in Old Abilene Town with his acoustic guitar.
Before heading over to the saloon, Roller-Weeks sent text messages to several people asking them to see Wheeler play. Around seven people showed up to listen.
Wheeler said he was on his way from Nashville, Tennessee, to Colorado to perform in the first of several summer events as part of a tour he’s currently on. He decided to spend the night in Abilene to see the city. That would be his first time in the city. His first encounter with Abilene would be in a book titled “Dictionary of the Wild West,” which he bought a couple of years ago.
“I opened up to the cowtowns of Kansas page during COVID… Just flipped open kind of at random deciding maybe I could write a song from this book because I do a lot of just introspective, personal songs,” Wheeler said. “I was like ‘why don’t I take a crack at something a little more research-based.'”
In the pages of the dictionary, Wheeler found Abilene’s cowtown history.
Wheeler’s Abilene song is not officially released on music platforms, but Wheeler said he will “probably” release the song in a future album. A video of a full performance of the song can be found on his Facebook page. The name Wheeler has given the song is “Cowtowns of Kansas.”
Wheeler is a full-time artist. He released his first album, “Roll Another Dime,” in March of this year and the tour he is currently on is for that album. His music can be found on all music streaming platforms.
“There’s some kind of folksy tunes on that, like the title track has fiddle and pedal steel,” he said. “There’s fiddle and pedal steel on a few tracks. Some of it is a little more like Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac. Some of it’s got more of a gospel, soul country (sound) going. It’s kind of an eclectic batch. The next thing I do will probably be more honky-tonky.”