wes weddell performance rules

Four Performance Rules I’m Happy to Bend (and the One I Won’t)

The music business, like the human condition, is complex, ambiguous, and frequently arbitrary – curiously-suited to a risk-averse individual like me.  Yet here I am, fifteen years into what at this point can only be called a career.

In the beginning, I brandished a stringent list of performance absolutes in the hopes that adhering to them would assure success. I’d also read so many musicians’ biographies in high school and college that I had language ready for my own narrative, overlooking the fact that such a straight-to-Behind-the-Music (or American Idol, if you prefer) approach would deprive one of the experiences of creating, interacting, and growing in real time. We all learn things along the way.

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Retreat! — Early Musings From My Willapa Bay Arist Residency

The daydream had a pronounced hold on me for many years: disappear into a cabin in the woods for a couple of weeks to write my next album. I took it for granted that I’d emerge with brilliant, pathbreaking material—more importantly, however, I’d get to bury some cryptic, legacy-building disclosure in the liner notes (remember those?) once I’d recorded everything, something like “Conceived over ten days and two quarts of huckleberries in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.”  Who could resist buying that?

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Bushwick Artist Showcase Poster – July 6th

Here is the poster for our upcoming Bushwick Artist Showcase on Sunday July 6th at the Sunset – featuring Mike Votava, Sam Russell, and Wes Wedell. It should be a fantastic show. Let me know what you think of the poster (I know the dude who made it).

*poster design by Mike Votava


Song of the Week: The Stance by Wes Weddell | inspired by Nick Wong’s essay entitled A Fight for Shared Spaces

Bushwick’s annual collaboration with the Jack Straw Writers Program has become one of my favorite shows of the season, with a different songwriter paired with each writer to produce a song inspired by the different pieces (which range from fiction to poetry to journalism to memoir and beyond in any given year). In 2012 I drew wandering pugilist Nick Wong, who had contributed an essay titled “A Fight for Shared Spaces” about his experiences in boxing gyms across Latin America.

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Bushwick Picks: Wes Weddell Edition

Editorial Note: Wes wrote this for us last month, but we weren’t able to post it until now. Fortunately, the weather is still beautiful and the Mariners are playing as I type this, so we think it still applies. Our apologies to Wes for the delayed posting, but we think his picks are pretty stellar nonetheless. 

The temperature hit 70 degrees Monday, the Mariners were in first place after one week, and I found myself joining the foolish chorus of overzealous—but sympathetic—Seattleites prematurely welcoming the arrival of summer.  For many summers I read only books about baseball or country music (or, in the case of one brilliantly-titled if weakly-researched bit of “scholarship” that I still enjoy seeing on my shelf, both), and this week I let those same whimsies take me away again with the fleeting warmth.=

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Song of the Week: Renegade Road by Bucket of Honey | Inspired By Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns

I’ve picked a hard one to talk about here… but I love putting this song in my ears so that is OK. I  will do my best.

“Renegade Road” by Bucket of Honey | inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns

Inspired by a man who is on his last legs, this tune is so beautifully written. Bucket of Honey put so much emotion into it.

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Read And Destroy: The Scoop On Bushwick’s New Traveling Folk/Rock Band

Our fearless leader Geoff Larson is driving along the beach in Ocean Park, WA on a tiny slip of a peninsula sandwiched between Willapa Bay, the Columbia River, and the Pacific Ocean. On the last day of our nine show Timberland Library tour, we’ll perform three shows back-to-back: Ilwaco @ 1pm, Raymond @ 4pm, and Olympia @ 7:30pm. A tight schedule to be sure, but we’re up for the challenge… that’s how we roll. Read more

This Week in Books & Music: Bumbershoot and More!

It’s a busy week with an assortment of events that will satisfy all interests, no matter what they might be! (Well, maybe not if your interests involve ASMR videos on YouTube, but you can do that at home!) You’ve probably heard that Bumbershoot is this weekend, but you might not know that some of our very own Bushwick performers are part of the lineup.  Read more

Listen to Bushwick On The Air Every Day This Week

The Bellevue the Library was the last stop of our recent King County Library Systems: A Place at the Table tour, where Bushwick performed original music inspired by Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. KBCS 91.3 FM was on hand to record this event and interview the artists. They put together some fun little 10 minute radio segments of each artist and every day this week at 4:20pm they will be broadcasting a new Bushwick segment. Yay! The schedule is posted below. Read more

What Makes Interesting (Song)Writing?

One thing I love about songwriting is the added challenge of making one’s stories and ideas fit a particular musical meter. It is, I find, difficult enough to express myself clearly in an engaging manner by simply writing prose; when I put a cap on syllables and insist on ending in rhyme, however, the complications multiply—though what flexibility I lose in available words I can sometimes regain with the alluring power of clever wordplay.

Thing is, not everybody tracks words. And among those of us who do, not everyone tracks them the same way. Some people simply love the groove. Some dig cadence and rhyme over narrative continuity; others vice versa. Or (self-indulgent reference warning!), as I bemoaned in my May 2011 Bushwick Book Club Seattle song inspired by Richard Feynman’s memoir “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character:

“One man’s Mona Lisa is another man’s cartoon.”

But, ah, the thrill of pursuit!

A few Book Clubbers and I were doing a program at Academy Schools in Tukwila recently, and I decided to poll my class of high schoolers regarding What Makes an Interesting Song? Disclosing my belief that there is no one magic list, I opened the floor for discussion (and invite it to remain open in the comments section below). Here’s what came back:

  • Arrangement
  • Conveys emotion: words & music
  • Memorable (catchy?)
  • Good beat/music
  • Harmony

And when I shifted the focus to What Makes Interesting Lyrics?:

  • Confidence
  • Imagery
  • Voice
  • Tone
  • Relatability
  • Message
  • Originality

Damn! I’ve facilitated college-level discussions that didn’t dig that deep or acknowledge in list form that these qualities are ALL important… and ambiguous. One writer’s confident message may come across as unrelatable pushiness to some readers/listeners; one’s honest, original, tangible story wasted as a derivative or forced exercise on another.

That we are a world full of people who connect in so many diverse ways is a beautiful, and occasionally frustrating, reality to me. I am fascinated by the ways that different authors and songwriters choose to share, by the similarities and discrepancies within and between the two processes, and by the incredible range in responses any one work can receive.

So good luck writing that perfect “all-things-to-all-people” song/poem/novel. But keep trying—I do.

Wes Weddell