A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Faces of Bushwick: Ken Nottingham & Carrie Wicks

To celebrate our long-time partnership with Bushwick Book Club Seattle, we’re speaking with local musicians who have composed and performed songs inspired by the written works of SAL speakers over the years. Learn about these hometown talents and discover their work in our Faces of Bushwick interview series.

In this first conversation, we talk with Ken Nottingham and Carrie Wicks, the duo behind Nottingham & Wicks.

What SAL event did you write a song for? What book inspired your song?

Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón (SAL’s Poetry Series, October 2016) inspired our song “Wide Open,” which we performed live at McCaw Hall with Ken on upright bass and Carrie on vocals. It was our sixth Bushwick collaboration as Nottingham & Wicks, and our first SAL production.

Where can people find this song online?

Carrie Wicks recorded “Wide Open” on her fourth OA2 (Origin) vocal jazz album called Reverie.

What surprised you about the song that emerged from the process?

Ken: When we started writing the song, I thought it was going to be in the vein of a jazz standard, which is in Carrie’s wheelhouse. But with the chords I chose and the way Carrie improvised melody, it became more of a country tune.

What do you love about writing music inspired by literature? Is it different from how you write songs otherwise?

Carrie: I read all the time as a freelance editor and I sing for fun, so co-writing songs with Ken is a creative act of collaboration that combines those two pursuits. Our songwriting partnership continues thanks to the propulsion of Bushwick Book Club Seattle. This keeps my toe in the water of music. Ken is a full-time musician now, so he’s got a different story.

Ken: Two of my great loves in life are music and books, so to be able to combine the two in some artistic form is a real joy. Being inspired by a book gives me a place to start; it gets me out of my own head and brings forth different perspectives I could not have conjured on my own. This helps with both words and musical textures.


Carrie and Ken performing a song inspired by Ada Limón’s work at SAL in 2016.


What are you reading right now? Or what is a book you have read recently that you enjoyed?

Carrie: I’m getting into Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, and also just got Jeff Tweedy’s How to Write One Song. Other than that, I try to keep up with the short fiction in The New Yorkers that show up like waves on a beach.

Ken: For the last year I have been a member of a science fiction book club. I have never been a big sci-fi reader, but it’s been fun to read some classics that I probably would not have sought out on my own. The last one we read was The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. This was my suggestion. I’ve always been a huge Vonnegut fan, and this was one I had not read yet; it’s definitely more in the classic 1950s sci-fi genre. Brought me back to my late teens and early twenties, and I rediscovered why I like his writing so much.

What’s on the horizon for you?

Ken: I’ve been doing a lot of recording with Sam Russell & the Harborrats. We will be releasing a single in mid-June and a full-length album called Ocean Shores in the fall of 2021. Also, through the pandemic I have been compiling songs along with bits and pieces from voice memos of the past five years, and I have managed to put together two ten-song demos. I plan to start recording some of them for an album this summer with my grass/rock band Creeping Time.

Thank you, Ken and Carrie!

Posted in CreativityBehind the Scenes