"May I present the cabinet: its contents, and its discontents," starts Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders show at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis last night, October 11th. If you're not familiar with the Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders show, this is not the typical rock concert, but more like a variety show. There's book readings, there's poetry, there's comedy, and, of course, there's music. Bottom line, the show is really an excuse for Wesley Stace (formerly John Wesley Harding) to gather his friends and colleagues on the stage!
After a poetry introduction to all the players in the cabinet, Stace singled John Roderick to talk a little about being 'the last man [not] on the plane' and how he went over to the '400 Club' to realized it was now a converted Islamic mosque (the 400 Bar closed its door late December last year).
Wesley Stace, with his live band The English UK, then kicked off his three-song set, starting with his Eleanor Friedberger collaborated song, "When I Knew". The latter two songs were from the latest album Self-Titled ("it's called Self-Titled, because it is…"). Stace explained that these new songs were all true, then quickly announced that 'Jane' in "Goodbye Jane" was not, in fact, 'Jane'. As for "A Canterbury Kiss", this was about the coolest girl he's ever met. The real moral of that song is that you should never send the subject their song until it's been recorded and published.
Todd Boss was next, reading three love (one 'lust') poems from his books: "The Hush of the Very Good", "Constellation", and "Feast".
Next was Marc Perlman, from the Jayhawks, played three covers, two of which were Moby Grape songs ("It's A Beautiful Day Today" and "I Am Not Willing"). He explained that he never listened to Moby Grape when he was young, it's only recently that he's absolutely fell in love with them.
Author Laurie Lindeen, formerly from Zuzu's Petals, read an excerpt from her forthcoming book called "My Boyfriend's Dead". It's not a zombie book, but about a 12-year-old girl growing up in the 70s.
After Wesley Stace read a random excerpt from his upcoming book Wonderkid, to be published February 2014 via Overlook Hardcover, Gary Louris, also from the Jayhawks, came on to sing three songs, ending with a The Jayhawks' "Tailspin". What made "Tailspin" so delightful was that it featured the other Jayhawks, Marc Perlman on mandolin, but Stace would medley in Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages" in the middle of the song.
Stace and his band would then continue with a fitting John Wesley Harding song called "Making Love To Bob Dylan". Shortly afterwards, everybody on the bill came back on stage for Kevin Ayers' "Religious Experience" (aka "Singing a Song in the Morning") for a satisfying finish.
Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders show is currently on tour, I'm encouraging people to go to multiple shows, because I can tell that every show is entertaining and unique. Wesley Stace's Self-Titled is out now on Yep Roc Records.