Apr 142020

I am a big fan of Wesley Stace (the artist formerly known as John Wesley Harding) and I have had a few occasions to speak with him over the years after shows at the merch table (captive audience). When he put out his last LP, featuring the “Minneapolian Sound of The Jayhawks,” I was in heaven. My favorite band, The Jayhawks, with one of my songwriting heroes. We had an (possibly imagined) moment after a Squeeze show in Atlanta (he opened) while discussing how we both loved The Jayhawks.

I saw him play a month ago: back when there were concerts! (At Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta – birthplace of Indigo Girls and John Mayer) and we traded a few FB messages (ok, he responded to my messages) about mandolin and songs he chose to play for this particular pre-shutdown show. So basically we are best friends now.

So this week some of his Facebook fans created an “imaginary tribute LP” and posted which artists they wanted and what song they should perform (The Cure should do “Goth Girl,” for example). Many were deceased (Johnny Cash), others were never going to say yes (Billy Joel will never record “My Least Favorite Things”). Some were serious, some were to be clever (Jacob Dylan playing “Making Love To Bob Dylan”).

My suggestion was to have The Jayhawks record “Kiss Me Miss Liberty” from John Wesley Harding’s New Deal (1996?). Wes “liked” it and it became part of the “imaginary” track line up.

Then a funny thing happened, Wes started to reach out to the artists and they started agreeing to record the songs that the “fans” wanted them to play!

Graham Parker started the ball rolling last week with his cover of “The Devil In Me” and I began to construct the Jayhawks arrangement of “Kiss Me Miss Liberty” in my head as a cure for my captivity boredom.

So today I see a message from Wes to me (ok to the group) that Gary Louris (of The Jayhawks) is the next artist to record a Wes song, thanks to Eric Leland (well, after I reminded him that it was my idea).

So I am basically a record executive again! COVID19 dreams do come true!


  7 Responses to “COVID19: Make-A-Wish Edition”

  1. Very cool instigation story on your part!

  2. Excellent!!

  3. Great idea — I saw something from Wes on Twitter but haven’t checked it out yet, so thanks for the reminder.

    Here Comes The Groom, The Name Above the Title, and The Confessions of St. Ace are my favorites. There’s always something good to find on his (many) albums. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any Cabinet of Wonders shows that he does, but have caught him live with a band and solo several times.

  4. Geo and I have had many discussions about JWH. I have seen him probably 6-8 times live and always think he is great but I’ve yet to listen to an album that I have enjoyed nearly as much and I have around 10. I think his songwriting is “too clever by half” as they say and yet I think he has a terrific stage presence/charisma and so live they don’t come off as too clever.

  5. Hey Jumgleland,
    It looks like the Philly library is having some sort of online author event featuring JWH.


  6. It keeps getting better. Minus 5 just added “Making Love To Bob Dylan”. I think this could be a strong tribute LP that is 100% fan fed. Wes has many songwriters as friends and fans and he is such a nice guy. I can’t see anyone giving him a hard “no” on this. (ok maybe Billy Joel).

    I agree on some of his LPs, I prefer a live show (he has out several out on Soundcloud this past week) and his live albums. He is an artist that I like to make a good 30 song comp of to mix the clever with the songwriter stuff.

    Here he is at his most “singer/songwriter” rather than clever (and rather than over arranged, which happens with him material from time to time)


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