I'VE SEEN PACKED ROOMS of stuffy, white hipsters dancing like drunken wedding guests while Jason Webley shreds on accordion and sings about the end of the world. I've seen him jump up on tables and shriek murderous ballads. I've seen him joke and flirt with the crowd, and have them in his pocket within five minutes. I've also seen him compared to everything from Tom Waits to gypsy music, Howlin' Wolf, and pirate music. But forget all that, and be ready for something real and original. Jason's great, he's from Seattle, and he's working his way through a series of collaborative 7-inches. (They also come with a full-length CD of additional material.) His last, 11 Saints (featuring Seattle's Jay Thompson), is just about sold out. He'll have a new one, a collaboration with Michigan-based songwriter Andru Bemis, available at this show.
MERCURY: Talk about the new 7-inch, How Big is Tacoma.
JASON WEBLEY: Like 11 Saints, it isn't exactly an album. It is a fun project, a collaboration, a documentation of one of my musical friendships.
Who's next in the 7-inch collaboration series?
There will be 11 total. I have strong plans for the next four. Most likely the next is with the Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band from Indianapolis. Amazing delta blues musician, he plays it so straight and true that it feels like punk rock somehow. After that, there is a Czech accordion player named Jana Vebrova I am hoping to do a record with. I want to do translations of her Czech songs into English and include both versions together. Then Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls and I have this concept for a project called "Evelyn Evelyn" where we are conjoined twins playing together in a circus sideshow. I play the left hand of an instrument and she plays the right. I hope we can work on it a bit while I am in Australia with her next month. The other is to write one song each with 10 other accordion players, totaling 11. The last song would be the "We Are the World" of accordion with everyone taking a few lines.
Any surprises in store for this show?
I hope so! I love being surprised.
See more of this interview at portlandmercury.com/blogtown.