As frontman and chief songwriter/lyricist for 80s/90s seminal Pittsburgh rock band, Little Wretches, Robert Wagner rode a wave of local notoriety that led the band to the forefront of the underground music scene. The Little Wretches were founded as a folk/punk band by Robert (guitar) and his brother, Chuckie (violin). The “classic” Mach 2 era of Little Wretches included Ed Heidel (bass), Chris Bruckhoff (percussion, wind instruments, backing vocals) and Bob Goetz (guitar), rounded out by Dave Mitchell (drums), Mike Michalski (bass) and Ellen Hildebrand (electric guitar.) This rock edition of the band performed regularly and helped the band build its massive following in Pittsburgh. Michalski, Mitchell and Chuckie Wagner left the band, effectively ending Mach 2.
Mach 3 began with the addition of David Losi (keyboards) and Mike Madden (drums.) When Madden couldn’t tour, drum programmer Gregg Bielski took over. When Ellen switched to bass guitar, this version of The Little Wretches entered the studio. They recorded two albums, with Angelo George playing drums and Jon Paul Leone playing guitar on a third. National press, attorneys, managers, and publicists came calling, as did life’s obligations, and the Little Wretches disbanded in the late 90s.
Robert Wagner continues to perform at coffeehouses and small clubs. A Master’s Degree holder, Wagner also counsels abused, neglected, traumatized and court-adjudicated youth. He is the co-founder of The Calliope Acoustic Open Stage, an event that has lasted 15+ years. He has also recorded and released two new albums in 2020: Undesirables and Anarchists and Burning Lantern Dropped In Straw. The former having spawned an i-tunes chart-topping single and having received airplay on more than 115 North American AM/FM radio stations.
“My songs are mirrors, and I often begin or end my performances by playing a version of The Velvet Underground’s “I’ll Be Your Mirror” extended to more than ten-minutes in length to include some of the images that most shaped my view of the world as a young man—working men and women enslaved in pursuit of the dollar, the now-vacant void from whence the spirit fled filled with the distraction of mindless entertainment, alcohol and assorted drugs, people so numb that self-destructive violence has lost its impact and the only way they can hope to feel anything is to hurt the people they love.” adds Wagner
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