Faces of Bushwick: Wes Weddell
August 25, 2021
To celebrate our longtime partnership (since 2015!) with The Bushwick Book Club Seattle, we’re speaking with local musicians who have composed and performed songs inspired by the written works of SAL speakers. Learn about these hometown talents and discover their music in our Faces of Bushwick interview series.
In this installment, we talk with frontman, sideman, writer, teacher, community-builder, quiz master extraordinaire—and Associate Director of The Bushwick Book Club Seattle—Wes Weddell. (Pictured at left with Moe Provencher, Aimee Zoe, Cheryl Strayed, and Geoff Larson.)
What SAL event did you write a song for? What book inspired your song?
I wrote a song called “Go” inspired by Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and performed it before her talk at Benaroya Hall in March 2015—the inaugural Bushwick + SAL partner-event!
Where can we find your song online?
What surprised you about the song that emerged from the process?
This was an important song for me on my path from precocious young writer used to attention to artist-in-community being intentional about how he’s taking up space—a journey still very much in-progress.
Being able to move from What would it be like to do what Strayed did? (which presumes an obnoxious amount) to What does my initial response say about where I came from and where I’m heading? is, I think, a more vulnerable and connected way to respond. Reflecting on paths-not-taken and lives-not-lived can be pretty fertile territory.
What do you love about writing music inspired by literature? Is it different from how you write songs otherwise?
I enjoy working with prompts and exercises, and the ‘inspired by’ premise (as opposed to ‘based on’) offers just the right amount of structure while keeping open any number of access points. I try to ride inspiration as long as I can in my songwriting so that I have as much idea and story as possible before my obsessive editor-self jumps in. In that sense the process is similar, but the inspiration is more connected to a specific piece of art.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Ijeoma Oluo’s Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (a good lens for my entitled initial response to Wild referenced above) before I jump into the books I haven’t read from Bushwick’s just-announced 2021-2022 season.
Would you recommend a book for one of the Summer Book Bingo squares?
Well, I can certainly use Mediocre for any of several squares [SAL Speaker, Activism or Social Justice, Recommended by a Local Bookseller]. And that Bushwick list is also pretty versatile!
Got something recent to share? Or something new on the horizon?
I’m grateful for having stayed creatively engaged through the disruption of the past year and a half, and look forward to the ways the scene evolves as we reemerge. I released a duet album with Ailisa Newhall last fall, which was a fun project.
Thank you, Wes! To learn more about Wes’s work, visit his website.