Jason Webley

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Jason Webley
Threewebleys.jpg
Jason Webley in 2006 at the Oregon Country Fair
Background information
Born (1974-06-01) June 1, 1974 (age 39)
Origin Seattle, Washington, United States
Genres Folk, punk, experimental, Gypsy punk, folk punk
Instruments vocals, accordion, guitar, piano
Labels Eleven Records
Associated acts Evelyn Evelyn
Big Little Dipper Dipper
Toast
Website http://www.jasonwebley.com/

Jason Webley is an American musician known for his fusion of folk, experimental and alternative music. He began as a street performer, playing accordion in the streets of Seattle, Washington, but has since moved in-doors and on stage, playing various venues.

Early life[edit]

In high school, Webley played in a punk band called Moral Minority. He picked up the accordion in 1996 in his last year in college at the University of Washington when he was part of a performance of Bertolt Brecht's play The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and wrote a couple of songs for the play on the accordion.[1] He later recalled, "I was just a geeky kid; accordion came later. It's since playing accordion that I've become cool. I used to be a geek with an electric guitar. I had a guitar and played in punky bands and I had a computer. I sequenced stuff. I was much geekier."[2]

In the spring of 1998 Webley quit his day job, picked up his accordion, and hopped on a Greyhound bus with the intention of playing in the streets until his money ran out.[3]

He used to pretend to die every Halloween only to be born in the spring (usually around May Day or Webley's springtime birthday). Webley first "died" on Halloween of 2000 when, after a concert, he led his fans to a park on the University of Washington campus and had a group of women take off his signature porkpie hat and black trench coat, which were burned. He then had his head shaved, was placed in a coffin and driven away in a hearse, and disappeared for six months.[4] At the 2005 Halloween show he stated that he no longer wanted to live and die with the seasons. He did not die that year, and is expected to continue not dying on future Halloweens.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

He released four albums using Springman Records as a distributor, but now owns his own record label, Eleven Records, and sells his merchandise via website or at concerts.

Webley plays various instruments on his albums, including guitar, accordion, piano, marimba, and glockenspiel; when he tours, however, he usually only brings his guitar, an accordion, and a vodka bottle filled with coins from around the world. He has been known to do short tours with a backing band. Webley has performed at several festivals, including Burning Man, Glastonbury Festival, and the Oregon Country Fair.[5] His sound has been compared to Tom Waits,[4] Vladimir Vysotsky,[6] Leonard Cohen,[4] and Bob Dylan.[7]

Some of Webley's most famous songs are the apocalyptic [1] "Dance While the Sky Crashes Down" (which appears on his album Against the Night) and his most common show finale, [2] "The Drinking Song" (which appears on Counterpoint). During "The Drinking Song" the audience is asked to sing as though in a drunken stupor:

When the glass is full
drink up, drink up
this may be the last time we see this cup.
If God wanted us sober
he'd knock the glass over
so while it is full
we drink up.

Webley has a fascination with the number 11.[8] He's also known for incorporating vegetables into his performances.[9] His late 1990s model Toyota Corolla [10] has been converted into a giant tomato. It is painted red, and used to have a green fiberglass stem attached to the roof of the car (until the stem was stolen). Instead of saying Toyota on the hood, it says tomato, and the Toyota logo is broken and reshaped into a circle with a stem. Webley announced in a post on his website's forum that the fiberglass stem was stolen from atop his car on July 13, 2006, during one of his frequent concert tours.[11] He reported at a concert that his beloved Toyota had "passed away" around January 18, 2011.

Webley has announced that he will be taking a "long break" from touring following his show on November 11, 2011 in Seattle at the Moore Theatre.[12]

Camp Tomato[edit]

On April 30, 2005, Webley ran an event called Camp Tomato, where he created an organization called the Tomato Scouts, a light-hearted reply to claims that he is a dangerous cult leader. It starts with a day in the park of fun, games, and antics, followed up by a performance by Webley in the evening-on into the night. The camp featured activities such as a "Tomato Pageant," "Tomato Race," and the highlight, the "Tomato Raid." Camp Tomato has continued in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Monsters of Accordion[edit]

Webley is the brains behind the Monsters of Accordion tour, an all-accordion extravaganza that takes place on the West Coast.[13] The tour came together when Webley was invited to play at an accordion shop in Oakland, and met two Bay Area accordionists, Daniel Ari and Aaron Seeman. They decided to do an accordion-only tour, which was the first Monsters of Accordion.[14] The tour has since featured such accordionists as Corn Mo, Geoff Berner, Amy Denio, Mark Growden, (former Gogol Bordello member) Stevhen Iancu, and Eric Stern (frontman of Vagabond Opera).

Collaborations[edit]

Webley (right) and Amanda Palmer as Evelyn Evelyn.

Webley has announced that there will be a series of 11 collaborative projects between him and his songwriter friends, and each recording will be limited to 1,111 numbered copies. He has thus far collaborated with Jay Thompson, Andru Bemis, Reverend Peyton, and Sxip Shirey.[15]

In September 2007, Webley collaborated with Amanda Palmer to release Evelyn Evelyn's debut EP Elephant Elephant via Webley's Eleven Records.

After a December 2007 concert at Hampshire College, Webley and Hampshire student Professor Science collaborated on a song about mittens known as "The Mitten Opera". Webley repeated this tradition the following two nights. The first being after a concert at Bard College, where he and a group of students collaborated on a song called "Clown Car to Mulberry". The night following, at Sarah Lawrence College, Webley and almost the entire audience performed the hardcore punk-inspired "Bad Milk". All three songs are available on YouTube.

At a concert at The Saint in Asbury Park, New Jersey in January 2009, Webley was joined on stage by Calamity Menagerie to perform "Ways To Love" and "Quite Contrary" – a song he rarely plays at live shows.

In December 2011, Webley announced the intention to make the back catalogue available as paid downloads online on the website BandCamp.

Discography[edit]

Collaborations[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yeaman, Rabia (9/10/2007). "Jason Webley Monsters of Accordian". KBOO.fm (Podcast). KBOO Community Radio. Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  2. ^ Doran, Bob (May 3, 2007). "A plastic vodka bottle full of pennies". THE HUM. North Coast Journal. Retrieved 7 August 2009. 
  3. ^ "Jason Webley". Springman Records. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  4. ^ a b c Scanlon, Tom (November 1, 2002). "Jason Webley's giving death another go". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Scanlon, Tom (October 31, 2003). "'Happy Death Day' with Jason Webley". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  6. ^ Piper, Paul. "Jason Webley: A Man with an Accordion". Habits of Waste. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  7. ^ Rathbun, Andy (February 6, 2009). "Jason Webley's happy to play his hometown". HeraldNet. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  8. ^ Corazon, Billy (July 1, 2009). "Imaginary Interview: Jason Webley". Three Imaginary Girls. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  9. ^ Kerry Skemp (November 29, 2007). "Jason Webley at the Lily Pad". Bostonist. Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  10. ^ http://www.flickr.com/photos/djwudi/1165458
  11. ^ Webley, Jason (July 16, 2006). "Jason Webley Under The Bridge". Jason Webley Forum. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  12. ^ http://www.naturalbeardy.com/2011/02/interview-with-jason-webley.html
  13. ^ "Interview with Jason Webley". Let's Polka. August 20, 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2009. 
  14. ^ Greg Majewski (August 29, 2009). "Monsters of Accordion to Play Luigi's". Sacramento Press. Retrieved 4 November 2009. 
  15. ^ "Recordings". Jason Webley. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 

External links[edit]