Monday, December 27, 2010

End-of-Year News Tidbits

A few scattered notes as 2010 winds to a close--thanks to everyone who had a hand in this year's successes!!

-By the Side of the Lake appears on KBCS DJ Larry Lewin's list of best recordings from 2010 and the Wildy's World music blog's Top 60 Albums of 2010 (#23: you may recall the glowing review from earlier in the year), capping a nice run of airwave and cyberspace successes for the new disc (many highlights in the Press-Kit section at 'Lake' also sneaked (snuck?) back onto the Washington State Roots Music Report charts this month.

-Seattle's flagship NPR station, KUOW, has been featuring "Not Enough" (audio/video), one of my Bushwick Book Club songs, in a recent segment.

-And, sadly, the scheduled January 8, 2011, performance at Isadora's in Snoqualmie, WA, is canceled on account of the venue closing its doors effective January 1.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Seattle, WA: Can*Can - Bushwick Book Club (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)

These are just too much fun. If you've forgotten the premise: The Bushwick Book Club songwriters read book, then give show of original songs inspired by book. This month's offering, back at the Groovy Can*Can: C.S. Lewis' second Chronicle of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. (If you missed October's Slaughterhouse-Five throwdown, recap here. And thanks to KUOW 94.9-FM NPR for the week-long plugs!) And my particular angle: Turkish Delight is, in my songwriter-humble opinion, gross. (Working title: "Edmund Gets Served.")

What makes these shows really tick, aside from the diverse talents and touches of each participant, is that they read as one big, fun show--not a jumbled, overcooked in-the-round, but one quirky, goofy-but-sincere celebration of literature, music, and art. Check your reputation at door, and jump in the middle. Can't wait for next month: Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spokane, WA: Fall Folk Festival

This has got to be one of the more underappreciated regional festivals...though certainly not by its attendees. The Spokane Community College venue focuses the action in one nice spot, with all of the various stages close by and a big craft-and-jam fracas in the middle. Performances kick off with a live radio broadcast show featuring a cross section of festival performers (honored to make the cut!), co-hosted by Carlos Alden, an old friend from 'Project' days (nearly ten years ago [gulp]...stay tuned for anniversary plans!) and frequent muse-prodder. My full set is in an unpretentious conference room, with a Power Point projector inches above my head and a lovely white-board-scribbled mountain scene behind me. Folk, all right. And here comes the snow...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Some Gigs, Some News...

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Renton, WA: Lindbergh High School (plus Commission News)

Though I can name many different musi-performance roles I embrace regularly and eagerly, this one caught me a bit off-guard: sole speaker at a school Veteran's Day assembly. Yes, you are correct: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of my country's armed services.

WW Band organ/keys player Brian Hoskins spends his days teaching choir (brilliantly!) in the Renton schools. A few years ago, his middle school kids premiered--and later reprised (audio/video)--my choral arrangement of "Carry On," a wonderful experience for me and nice tribute to the late Don Shawe, a World War II veteran and the song's inspiration. Many of those kids are now at Lindbergh, and Brian's Ad Astra choir chose to perform the piece (they all apparently remember it!) as their selection for the school's Veteran's Day assemblies. I, of course, happily agreed to accompany the group and perhaps say a few words about Don.

Somewhere in between, however, I became not just a component of the Leadership Class' program, but the featured speaker! So Don's life and words got center stage for a few moments this morning, along with my 'this is one story--every veteran and servicemember has his/her own (as do their families!)' disclaimer. So it goes...

Thanks to Brian and the kids for getting it up on its legs with such scant notice. I will never tire of hearing that many voices sing my song! (And honor Don and those whom his experiences represent...) And I will get to experience it all over again next spring as the LHS Ad Astra group has commissioned me to compose a new, original work for them to premiere! (More details coming soon.) Honored, excited...and ready to get to work am I!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Redmond, WA: Swedenborg Church of Puget Sound

At the risk of saturating the market, I'm making my third appearance this year with these swanky Swedenborgians--sure is nice how they celebrate music and songwriters and insist on having both as part of their weekly services! As I alluded to previously, I enjoy the art of picking songs from my repertoire to fit the particular theme, conceding that often said 'fit' has as much to do with how I present/introduce a number as the song-itself-as-independent-entity. "Ghosts, Goblins, and Spirits - Halloween and All Saints Day," however, is an area I have pretty much left alone in my writing... I can run with seasons, though, and also steal a post-sermon opportunity to share my newest creation: "Not Enough," written for the Bushwick Book Club (Seattle) and touching on some of the themes of grief and uncertainty that Rev. Paul Martin addressed in his talk.

AND...for those clamoring, you can hear a quick recording of "Not Enough" here!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Seattle, WA: Beery House

For the past fifteen years, the unassuming Beery House atop Seattle's Capitol Hill has hosted an astonishing variety of musicians--sometimes performing, sometimes just crashing between wayward road dates--and gatherings, and I'm honored to add my name to the list (and partake in the always-filling potluck) after having been a lurking attendee for years. Someday someone'll write a book about wonderful secrets like this 'venue,' and we'll learn just how many people have keys to Max's and Teresa's back door.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Seattle, WA: Can*Can - Bushwick Book Club (Slaughterhouse-Five)

You knew this was gonna be memorable: twelve songwriters asked to pen a piece inspired by a different novel each month and then give a show (in the Can*Can's ultra-funky confines, no less); tonight's offering: Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. What a wide and wonderful range of interpretations (and a lot of "so it goes" refrains...), from the slapsticky and suggestive to the darkly serious, and many waypoints in between. I titled my too-many-words (as usual) tune "Not Enough" as it sprung chiefly from the following passage:

Rosewater said an interesting thing to Billy one time about a book that wasn't science fiction. He said that everything there was to know about life was in The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. "But that isn't enough anymore," said Rosewater.

Kudos to organizer Geoff Larson (who plays on By the Side of the Lake!) and *all* of the other Bushwick Book Club-Seattle members and songwriters! Next month's pick (which, sadly, I will miss as I am playing in Spokane): William Goldman's (and S. Morganstern's) The Princess Bride. And hey - I finally made The Stranger Suggests!

UPDATE (10/30/10): Video HERE.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Renton, WA: Sartori Education Center

A little forum on songwriting for Sartori's Creative Writing Class, taught by a former guitar student. Came in ready to play a bunch of examples to illustrate various ideas, comparisons, etc., but was pleased to forgo such a performance-heavy approach in favor of honest discussion. Also enjoyed sharing my own notes from a songwriting master class with Texas legend Eric Taylor (so accomplished that he can get away with being a Texas songwriter and only having two names), lending my voice to his thoughts and observations as they resonated with me. Hope I get to see/hear some of the songs the class produces!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Leavenworth, WA: Icicle Arts Festival

As I told the audience at the performance where I served as a judge, I'm of two minds regarding songwriting contests: I appreciate and understand their role in the celebration of original music and as a means for some of gaining traction in the industry...but, at the same time, the very idea of comparing and rating songs along one particular continuum is tough to digest. So congrats to *all* Icicle Prize finalists for this accomplishment and for keeping at it: Ben Bonnema; Michael Carlos; Chelsey Craven; Michael Dickes (whose song has been most stuck in my head since); Rachel Lippert; Hannah Loeffelbein; Brian McMahon (2nd Place); Margee Peterson (Audience Choice); Andrew Thompson; Nadine Van Ness; Sandy Vaughn (3rd Place); and Beth Whitney (1st Place)--and student finalists: Marija Bosnar (1st); Chloe Grace Caemmerer (2nd); and Claire Seaman (3rd).

Also charged with sorting out this madness were my other co-judges: Dan Maher; Linda Waterfall; Andre Feriante; Andrew T. Miller; and Aimee Mell. Most of us gave workshops the day previous at the stunning Barn Beach Reserve, and all were treated splendidly by the Icicle Arts folk, who pulled of the whole thing smashingly. Indeed, anyone who wants to put me up on the Sleeping Lady grounds (even feeding me occasionally) is more than welcome to do so!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Richland, WA: Tumbleweed Music Festival

Over the years (this is #8) I've likely exhausted available positive adjectives for describing just how pleasant this event is, yet extreme pleasantness is what I have to report yet again. Fun as always to see friends old and new, roast fellow songwriters while emceeing the contest (and presenting the handmade-by-yours-truly trophy: congrats to Tracy Spring!), play a set of my own (that was a lot of folk assembled to hear it!), and hang by the river. And I modeled this years theme of "Paying Forward - Giving Back" with a stint on local TV ... and a performance of "Thanks to the Many" in the Sunday Evening Concert. Same time next year...?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Little of This, A Little of That...

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Big Rapids, MI: Jensen Family Reunion

The Big Rapids Jensens are second cousins of mine (with varying degrees of removal), and two years ago one asked me if I would pen a tune about the family farm outside of town as a gift to the clan. No one lives on the property presently, and those who did (a long generation older than me) remember very tough times, but a spirit of 'this place won't go to seed on my watch' persists, and the 120 acres have thus become a wonderful play-spot for the youngest generation of Jensens (et al - for a delightfully loose criteria for 'family' also pervades). I sifted through various cousins' journals and thoughts on the place and emerged with "On My Watch," which I recorded on "By the Side of the Lake." Playing it on-site was, in a word, special.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mercer Island, WA: Youth Theatre Northwest

For the past many years, one of my regular side-gigs has been sound design (and occasional music-direction...when the serious musicians won't touch a show) at Youth Theatre Northwest on Mercer Island, a wonderful outfit that gets remarkable results from the kids it casts in its shows (and it casts only kids). Kinda fun, then, to spend an evening with the other artists and designers showing said kids and their families what our 'other lives' look like at this Faculty Showcase.

Redmond, WA: Swedenborg Church of Puget Sound

Must've passed my Super Bowl Sunday audition 'cause I'm back--nice, welcoming feel and pace to these services, and very appreciative of and eager for the music. Also neat that the guest speaker is an eloquent and sharp member of the Baha'i faith, brought in to share views and start discussions--a fine way to do things in my humblish opinion.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lynwood, WA: Tacos Guaymas

Like Crossroads, this one doesn't at first seem the kind of place that'd work, but it's amazing what supportive staff and good sound'll do to a place (not to mention great food!). And hopefully folk'll clue in in this mall-centric burg. Steff Kayser, point-man Ray Boyce, and Ron Dalton join.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

5-Star Review of 'Lake' - more

Wildy's World, an independent music blog from one Wildy Haskell in upstate New York, has published a five-star review of "By the Side of the Lake"--some highlights:

Seattle singer/songwriter Wes Weddell is not only a jewel of the Emerald City's musical crown; he's also one of the biggest boosters of DIY music in the American Northwest. Aside from winning songwriting awards, recording 3 critically acclaimed albums and working as an in-demand session and side-man, Wes Weddell also established a not-for-profit organization, Puget's Sound Productions, to assist in the development of community live music spaces in the Northwest as well as supporting independent musicians in pursuing their craft. The idea of a folk singer/songwriter as Renaissance Man may be hard to get your head around, but Weddell breaks the mold. His latest album, By The Side Of The Lake, features Weddell's masterful story-telling style and distinctive character voices against the backdrop of musical arrangements that simply won't leave you alone...

If it wasn't apparent before now, By The Side Of The Lake makes it abundantly clear that Wes Weddell is a master craftsman as a songwriter. Weddell's easy going delivery and simple mien make him instantly likeable, whether on CD/MP3 or on stage. Weddell has attracted a crack band over time, but it's the singer/songwriter himself that keeps people coming back again and again. By The Side Of The Lake brings folk music back to its roots; telling true stories about real people and places. Weddell will make you laugh and make you cry; inspire anger and thoughtfulness. He'll entertain and educate you with his songs if only you will listen. Like the great bards of olden times, an encounter with Wes Weddell will leave you a little richer in mind and spirit than when you started. By The Side Of The Lake is a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc; a must-have album.

'Lake' has also gathered reviews from a couple of Dutch Americana websites: and

Friday, June 18, 2010

Seattle, WA: House Concert

I have written before how wonderful house concerts can be, and how much they depend on the graciousness and benevolence of the host--and, well, that all remains true...and wonderful. A delight, as always, to see so many faces (many familiar) so focused on the performance, and to give 'em a good show! (Others presenters are welcome to take note...) And no tear-down or rough travel after!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Northwest Folklife Festival

I'm getting some pretty cagey looks from the group of underage smokers huddled at the foot of Key Arena's north steps, but I'm merely jogging a few flights to get the blood going some before my set. Nonetheless, it feels like I'm playing with my feet the last few songs, though I'm flattered by just how many folk are sticking it out in the cold-but-not-too-wet. Tomorrow and the next day I'll don my 'Community Coordinator' hat (the staff-like badge just encourages folk to ask me questions for which I haven't a clue re: helpful answers) for the second-annual Emerald City Song Circles celebrating original music at the festival...indoors! Ah, Folklife--there's none quite like you...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Full-Band Video

Several songs from April's full-band CD Release concert have found their way to the WW YouTube site--enjoy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

U-District Street Fair: Cafe Allegro HOOT

So many connections for my detail-oriented brain to make, from my first U-District Street Fair in 1999 when I left for the day to explore and locked my showering dorm-roommate out in his boxers to all of the Allegro-HOOT stories I've absorbed over the years from Eric Apoe and his motley crew. When it's raining--as it often is in Seattle on May weekends--the indoor stage at Cafe Allegro is a blessing; when it's delightfully sunny (as it is today), less so perhaps...but still a grand time, with a fascinating-as-always lineup. Someday someone'll write a book about events like this, the folk who've passed through 'em, and the web connections and further/future exploits born out of 'em.

Friday, April 16, 2010

'Lake' charts!

Having yet to make my for-real radio push, I am tickled to see By the Side of the Lake pop up on this week's Roots Music Report Folk charts: #4 in Washington State, and #40 overall!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Seattle, WA: Nectar Lounge (Full-Band CD Release!)

What a celebration! Thanks to all who came out, Nectar, the WW Band (Alicia Healey, Brian Hoskins, Dave Bush, Erin Kreiger, Amanda Monger)... Fun to play "By the Side of the Lake" start-to-finish, even with the hassle of lugging around three extra instruments for one song each (ooh, look at how many things I can play!--and none're as heavy as anything I made Brian schlep, particularly that Rhodes...). Onward and outward...

'Lake' on iTunes, more

By the Side of the Lake hit iTunes mere moments ago, and continues to seep out through various other digital media outlets, etc.--right on schedule with tonight's full-band Seattle release concert!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bellevue, WA: KBCS Interview/Performance

One of the challenging things about radio performances is that you cannot read your audience. In a typical live setting, I pay close attention to the vibe(s) in the room and make adjustments accordingly; with radio, you just have to hope they're with you... Thankfully, KBCS host Christine Linde leads a pleasant and intelligent conversation, so pressure's off: play a few tunes, talk about my songwriter-self, call it good... And the station'll have a podcast of it available before long!

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's Here! - New CD, "By the Side of the Lake" - Seattle release concert April 11

At long last, "By the Side of the Lake" has arrived in tangible CD form! It'll start making its way out to some radio stations this week, and should appear on iTunes and a host of other digital media outlets before too terribly long. A copy, of course, can be yours with just a few clicks of the mouse at, which is sporting a brand new look in conjunction with the release.

The full 'WW Band' will also be on-hand for a special release concert April 11 at Nectar in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood (bandmate and 'Lake' co-producer Alicia Healey will open the show). Truth-be-told, we're awfully excited!

* April 11 (Sun) - 8:00pm
, WA
: Nectar Lounge
412 N 36th St.; (206) 632-2020

Advance Tickets (21+)
Full-band CD release concert for "By the Side of the Lake"
Featuring: Alicia Healey; Brian Hoskins; Dave Bush; Erin Kreiger; Amanda Monger
- Alicia Healey opens -

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tukwila, WA: Cascade View Elementary School (March 15 & 16)

More innocent questions from the younger kids, though "Are you rich?" seems to transcend age... Kudos to Amanda for packing me a sack lunch both days!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Seattle, WA: The Children's Museum

I swear, if they hired me for ten minutes, the room'd clear out after eight--just something about the space, I suppose, and the delightfully restless nature of young kids. Slow day on account of the gorgeous weather, so we try the more central Storytelling room instead of my usual 'theater' space. One huge plus: the small balcony-like fort off to my left makes for great heckling aesthetics (Statler & Waldorf at age four...).

Monday, March 1, 2010

By the Side of the Lake - Lyrics

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Rough Mixes: One Way It Might Look

Victory Music asked me to write for the now on-line only Review a while back, and this is the first one I've gotten in. Calling the column, however regular it might be, “Rough Mixes” ...

“Want to know one of the great things about being a musician?” I asked the students assembled in front of me for the first of six school presentations recently: “Gigs rarely start at 8:00am.”

Regarding my invitation to speak here on theme ‘doing what you love’, of course, the fix was in (as it so often is). One of my band-mates teaches in the district, and I’ve backed up his choirs going on five years now—it’s not like I made some exclusive cut or won the Yellow Pages/Google lottery. Just the same, I’ve learned that the narrative can assume markedly different appearances based on what details I choose to omit. For example: “Wes Weddell was pleased ‘Musician’ made the cut at a local middle school’s Career (‘Impact’) Day, and honored to be asked”, read my third-person vain Facebook status that afternoon, rather than “friend-of-a-friend called in a favor”, which would have been no less accurate. One’s a whole lot more romantic, though—and feels a whole lot more validating.

This brings me to what has become one of my stock phrases when describing many facets of the ‘scene’: “It’s not about what you’re doing, it’s about what people think you’re doing.” Problem is, I resent the hell out of this perception, and I still care tremendously about the art itself, while the marketplace tends also to weigh a few other factors that may or may not overlap with my creative skill sets.

Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bellevue, WA: Crossroads

As I do more and more work with Reilly & Maloney, whose aversion to monitors is legendary, I get better and better and trusting the room and working with what it gives me--but, man, it's nice to hear yourself well! The work Bob Conger does at Crossroads is nothing short of remarkable, given the mall/food-court traffic, tiled floors, and massive glass pergola... Enjoying getting the new stuff further out there (and, as always, a treat to do it under the Puget's Sound banner), though after tonight I'll likely clamp down on local appearances to put a 'premium' on the inevitable "By the Side of the Lake" release concert.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Redmond, WA: Swedenborg Church of Puget Sound

A lot of peers in my various circles do gigs like this all the time, often with UU / UCC / Spiritual Living congregations in addition to these sweet Swedenborgians (fascinating fellow), and becasue I speak the language folk often assume that I have a lot of overt material in my canon suitable for these sorts of occasions. Not that my songs are incongruous, but I think of my writing as being more story-centered than message-centered, with perhaps more ambiguity and room for listeners to draw their own conclusions. That said, it was a blast to have some 'community'-oriented tunes that fit this morning's messages (unknown to me until I arrived) to a T! And the DanceWorks Studio space in which they met is way cool, too...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Renton, WA: Nelsen Middle School 'Impact' Day

Nice that musician made the cut here at Nelsen, and honored to be asked. Maybe should've gone a little more media-heavy, though I made a conscious choice to try to show just how many music careers exist between here and what you'' see on the Grammys this weekend (rather than impress with audio/video). Favorite question: "Are you married?" Easy, ladies...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Seattle, WA: The Children's Museum

I like these little Children's Museum engagements, probably because they're unlike anything else I do...and they're apt to be different each time through. In fact, today was a perfect example of what a day-in-the-life of this calling can look like: 30-minute set for the young'uns; walk across the street to the Northwest Folklife offices to meet in my capacity as community coordinator for singer/songwriters (i.e. cat-herder); drive down to Renton to play bass behind the Lindbergh High School jazz choir (directed by WW organist, Brian Hoskins), then home via Mercer Island and the last half-hour of Youth Theatre Northwest's Dracula rehearsal, which features my sound design. And I'll get up tomorrow and hit it again!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Seattle, WA: House Concert

Tonight was supposed to be a film screening, not another Joe Jencks-Wes Weddell performance, but the producers didn't ship a copy out in time... Oops.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Snoqualmie, WA: Isadora's

Okay, this doesn't really count as a performance--it's rogue-logger-fiddlin'-friend Bob Antone's birthday, and he's invited friends to hear him play and to heckle--but I'm struck by two things worth sharing. One, Isadora's is a wonderfully funky spot, the kind of place that caters to everyone and seems in ever-shorter supply; and two, there are likely dozens of people and places in Seattle right now trying noticeably hard to be this real.

Bob's got the artist's soul, and plays and writes great music unlike anything I've encountered anywhere else. He and his brother, Mike, play host tonight to an unusual scene: everyone is captivated and dead-quiet fascinated while they're playing, but as soon as they finish a song and everyone whoops then people (pursuant to the heckling ground-rules in place) start yelling really dirty things. Thankfully, this mood subsides by the time I get up for a few (Bob insists).

Oh, and a third thing: you must hear this man sing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Seattle, WA: Egan's

Egan's Ballard Jam House is one of my favorite rooms in town, and it's exciting to see folk start to discover it; reminds me of a much-smaller take on the Iridium, the Midtown Manhattan club where I was blessed with the chance to see the late, so-great Les Paul in 2005: such a great listening room, and such without sacrificing comfort or amenities! And, of course, always a treat to play/sing with Joe Jencks--we even practiced some for this one!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Everett, WA: House Concert

2009 was an awfully transitional year for this songwriter, and at some point in the spring I realized that I'd likely need a project into which to pour myself during choice stretches. Said project became By the Side of the Lake, a new album whose audio lies finished and perches just a couple of design/administrative steps from release. Indeed, I am thrilled to welcome 2010 with a house concert performance full of new tunes and old friends--a double-bill with Joe Jencks.

The cuts from Songs to Get You From Here to There were all tunes that I'd been playing quite a bit before hitting the studio (a process that limped mightily along itself), and thus even though I'd applied full-band treatment to several songs, I had solo arrangements secured prior to release. Kinda fun to work backward with this one: many of these tunes came together with the band, and I find as I toss them out there just-me that I'm still learning where some of the holes are and how they move. Plus, always interesting to see how (and to what specifically) people respond, and how it's never quite what I anticipate.

Joe was riffing between songs at one point about Woody Guthrie and "This Land is Your Land" contrasted with Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," which--as can happen 'in-the-round'--led me to introduce and play "Got Out Some," one of the new tunes (in which the bridge borrows from both aforementioned pieces). I know what I meant to say, and I don't know if I somehow swallowed a word or what, but what people heard was something regarding Irving Berlin's Woody. And a new bit is born...