June 9 — Tuesday afternoon around 1 p.m., Michael James Wheeler. Walked into the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau Visitor Center. A few minutes after entering, Julie Roller-Weeks, director of the CVB, approaches Wheeler. While conversing with him, Roller-Weeks discovered that he was an artist who had written a song featuring Abilene. While there, she asked if Wheeler wanted to perform her song. Wheeler agreed. About 10 minutes later, Wheeler sat down on a stool at the Alamo Saloon in Old Town Abilene with his acoustic guitar.
Before heading to the saloon, Roller-Weeks texted several people asking to see Wheeler perform. About seven people showed up to listen.
Wheeler said he was on his way from Nashville, Tennessee, to Colorado to perform at the first of several summer events as part of a tour he is currently on. He decided to spend the night in Abilene to see the city. It would be his first time in the city. His first encounter with Abilene would be in a book called “Dictionary of the Wild West”, which he bought a few years ago.
“I opened up the Kansas cowtowns page during COVID…I randomly opened up deciding maybe I could write a song from this book because I do a lot of personal, introspective songs,” Wheeler said. “I was like ‘why don’t we try something a little more research-based.’
In the pages of the dictionary, Wheeler found the history of the city of Abilene.
Wheeler’s song Abilene is not officially released on music platforms, but Wheeler said he would “probably” release the song on a future album. A video of a full performance of the song can be found on her Facebook page. The name Wheeler gave to the song is “Cowtowns of Kansas”.
Wheeler is a full-time artist. He released his first album, “Roll Another Dime”, in March this year and the tour he is currently doing is for this album. His music can be found on all music streaming platforms.
“There’s a kind of folk melodies to it, like the title track has fiddle and pedal steel,” he said. “There’s fiddle and pedal steel on a few tracks. Some of them sound a little more like Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac. Some of them have more gospel, soul country (sound). C It’s kind of an eclectic lot. The next thing I do will probably be more honky-tonky.”