Seattle-based songwriter Jason Webley hasn’t performed in Atlanta since around 2011, so if you’ve ever been privy to his whimsical songs and stories, you’ll understand why it’s it’s such an incredible opportunity to catch his set tonight within the intimate setting of the Little Vinyl Lounge at Star Bar. Local troubadour Jeffrey Bützer has long been an admirer of Webley’s work and over the years has built a relationship with the former street performer. In addition to setting up tonight’s show, he reached out to Immersive in the hopes of providing some publicity for the performance. Rather than creating our own preview, we asked Bützer if he wouldn’t mind taking the reigns and doing an interview with Webley. Below is the conversation that transpired.
Jeffrey Bützer: Do you have a favorite instrument or one you prefer to write on?
Jason Webley: I often write away from any instrument. And I’m not sure that I really have a favorite… I feel like different instruments bring out different aspects of my personality. Generally I find the guitar to be more introverted and the accordion is more extroverted.
JB: What is your biggest non-musical influence?
JW: I think I’ve been more influenced by the things I’ve read than the music I listen to. I don’t read as much as I used to these days, which really saddens me, but in the years when I was finding my voice there were a number of authors who I would count as bigger influences than any musician. I love the stories of Bruno Schulz, any of Herman Hesse’s writing (especially from 1919 to 1930) — also Kafka, Borges, and the Rootabaga Stories of Carl Sandburg.
Actually, let me answer this one a second time. On Saturday I was at the Women’s March in DC. The scale was unbelievable — unrelenting streams of bodies coming endlessly from every direction. I remember looking down at the mall and seeing a little slice of the sea of people and feeling something I never have felt before, a feeling of being part of a truly historical moment. I wept. I’m not completely sure how to channel and direct that feeling… but I’d like the awe-inspiring power of that day to become my “biggest non-musical influence” for this time we are in.
JB: What was the last movie you loved?
JW: First, any white person in this country who hasn’t seen 13th needs to do that right now. It’s on Netflix. But as far as art films go, I really liked The Lobster. If you haven’t seen it… you should. Don’t read what it’s about first. Some people hated it. It was probably a bit longer than it needed to be, but… whoa. I highly recommend The Lobster. You should try The Lobster.
JB: If you could raise the dead for one collaboration, who would it be with?
JW: He died two days after the election. I was fortunate to see him perform on his last tour, and it was like a three-hour master class on graciousness. When I was younger I sometimes would say that I wanted to produce a record with him. I always felt that his production choices were terrible and that I could help make something simple, subtle, acoustically driven… less back-up singers. At some point I decided the cheesy, weird production choices were a strange sort of perfection, that I wouldn’t dare to change a thing, and that I was arrogant to ever think I could have brought anything useful to that hypothetical and unlikely table. But I wouldn’t have minded much if fate had ever put me in the same small room with Leonard Cohen.
JB: What are you working on right now?
JW: I want to make a floating circus. A river-going raft that is a stage, where a group of performers live and float downstream from town to town putting on shows in little riverfront parks. We are going to do a test run this June on the Willamette River in Oregon.
JW: I’m also putting together the second year of my tiny music festival back home in Washington. It’s called Once and will happen in early June. Right before the floating circus.
JB: Sorry these are so softball, I am slammed this week.
JW: It’s ok. It’s a motherfucker of a week.
Jason Webley will perform tonight at the Little Vinyl Lounge at Star Bar. Supporting him will be Jeffrey Bützer and George Kotler-Wallace. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $7. 21+ to enter. Space is limited so make sure to get there early.