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Myles Wangerin is the workingman’s musician. He drives a Ford pickup, always seems to have a good five days’ worth of facial hair, and generally wears T-shirts and jeans that make him look as if he just got in from bucking hay all day. On any night of the week, the 26-year-old singer-songwriter from North Lake is performing in watering holes all across Lake Country. He’s about to warm up the crowd at Bucky’s in Okauchee -- where he hosts the tavern’s open mic night every Thursday. He already has on his acoustic guitar, a pick in hand. Still, he lingers for roughly two minutes, taking questions about his life and new CD -- of all original songs -- released this month:

How are you feeling? I’m getting there. [Wangerin earlier, upon arriving, admitted to staying out too late with friends the night before.] What time did you get home? Midnight…ish. What time did you get up this morning? 6…ish. [Wangerin has a day job with a Hartland manufacturer that not only makes him rise early but leaves his fingers stained with grease. Tonight his hands look like they just lugged an engine block out of a VW bug.]

How long have you had your cowboy boots? Five years. They’re the most comfortable shoes I own, better than tennis shoes. [The boots do look comfortable. They’re scuffed and so worn out that they’re more like leather slippers.] What was the last baseball cap you bought? The one I’m wearing. [He tugs on the bill. The cap reads Sun Record Company.]

What’s your drink? Captain and Coke. [He abstains from booze though before performing, saying that it dries his mouth out.] Do you drink anything else before a show? Water. [Shortly after Wangerin says this, someone at the bar sends him over a bottle of Miller High Life. Wangerin doesn’t turn it down.] Do you do anything to take care of your voice? I try not to smoke too much right before or after singing. Do you get nervous before performing? For bigger shows maybe. I get more anxious than anything. Any advice for a musician on open mic night? Give 'er hell. Do you ever worry your voice will let you down? No.

If you had to choose: Merle Haggard or Waylon Jennings? [He gives a sideways look of disappointment at the question. Apparently, for him, this is the cruelest of decisions, his Sophie’s Choice. Eventually, he answers, albeit reluctantly] Merle. Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson? [Another look of disappointment] Johnny. Johnny or Merle? [Without hesitation] Merle.

Any other talent you wished you had? To play drums. What song would you play on them? "Hot for Teacher," by Van Halen. When did you start playing guitar? I was 12. What was the first song you learned? AC/DC’s "Hells Bells." I did it to piss off my guitar teacher. What was the last song you learned? "Hardworking Man" by Brooks and Dunne.

How long have you been working on this new CD? There’s one song on there that I wrote 8 years ago. What song title are you the most proud of? I have one called "Goddamn Truth." I wrote it after Merle died. There’s a lyric: "Who’s going to play the same three chords/And sing the goddamn truth." What’s your most prized possession? An acoustic guitar I got as a gift from my church. What song do you most often open with? The Eagles’ "Take it Easy," or Charlie Worsham’s "Young to See." What song do you most often close with? A sort of medley of Eric Church’s "Creepin'," Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s "Blue on Black" and Bad Company’s "Feel like Making Love." What was the last concert you saw? Wade Bowen at the Moon River Music Festival in Memphis. Is that when you got the Sun Records hat? [He nods]

What has been your greatest achievement? Honestly, getting my CD out. What phrase do you find yourself most often saying? "Thank you, you’re far too kind."

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