A few years back, if someone had started giving him some lip in the middle of a gig, Joe Purdy might have left the stage and beat a little sense into the guy. Nowadays, he’s more likely to calm everybody down, assure the loudmouth that he was a welcome and important part of his audience and through words and warmth talk him into sitting back down and join everyone else in enjoying Purdy’s extraordinary music.
What has happened to Joe Purdy? Some might call it growth, although he’s already grown a lot in wandering from his Arkansas home state to Los Angeles, and from there toward and beyond further horizons. Along the way he’s recorded a baker’s dozen worth of albums. His songs have turned up on numerous TV shows and film soundtracks. He even received a special request from Pete Townshend to join him onstage. Purdy said yes.
Even so, in recent years the singer, songwriter and self-described “hillbilly” has come to see the world and his role in it somewhat differently. His new views chart the direction on his latest album, Who Will Be Next? which plants its feet deep in the tradition of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and others while addressing immediate transgressions.
Purdy’s determination to honor the giants of American folk while applying his unique skills as writer and passionate vocalist reveal just how much he has achieved and evolved as an observer and participant in our times.
Wesley Stace was born in Hastings, Sussex, in 1965, and educated at the King’s School, Canterbury, and Jesus College, Cambridge. He released 17 albums under the name John Wesley Harding. His most recent album, Self-Titled, for which he returned to his given name, was released by Yep Roc, in 2013. He has also published four novels.
Wesley Stace’s Cabinet of Wonders, his variety show based at City Winery in NYC, continues to sell out. Since the Cabinet’s inception in 2009, the show has become a virtual who’s who of contemporary performers, writers, and comedians. It’s “one of the finest nights of entertainment this city has to offer” (New Yorker), “a brilliant evening of laid-back fun” (Village Voice), and “one of the most whip-smart variety shows on the market” (Portland Tribune). The show is ongoing and currently booking for 2016.
Stace has been joined onstage by Lou Reed, Rosanne Cash, Iggy Pop, John Prine, and Bruce Springsteen (with whom he recorded a duet on his album Awake), among many others. He appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. His songs have featured in films (including High Fidelity), TV (Transparent) and been covered by many other artists.
His first novel, the international bestseller Misfortune, was published to great acclaim in 2004. It was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, listed as one of the books of the year in the Washington Post and the Boston Phoenix, and was one of Amazon’s Top Ten Novels of the Year. His second, By George, (2007) was one of the New York Public Library’s Books To Remember of 2007, and Booklist Editor’s Choice for books of the year. His third, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, (2010) was called “the most confident musical fiction I have read in years” (New Statesman), and an “Inventive black comedy unfolding with Nabokovian precision” (Financial Times): Isaac Mizrahi has recently bought the film rights. His fourth novel, Wonderkid, is being optioned by NBC/Universal to be developed as a sitcom.
Stace currently teaches a course at Swarthmore College called “Novel Beginnings/Beginnings Novel.” He has twice taught a songwriting course (“How To Write A Song”) at Princeton University with poet Paul Muldoon. He has also taught creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Stace’s work has itself the subject of a university course “The Allusive John Wesley Harding/Wesley Stace” taught at Central Connecticut State University. He has reviewed for the Times Literary Supplement, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He has lived in America since 1991, and resides in Philadelphia with his wife Abbey, daughter Tilda, and son Wyn.
Born in New York, Burger began playing piano at an early age, starting his formal training at age 6 with renowned pianist Jeffrey Marcus. He played in local and school bands during his youth, and then went on to study classical performance at the University of Massachusetts with pianist Nigel Cox, as well as African American Studies and improvisation under the direction of Yusef Lateef. In 1994, he was recruited as accordionist, to the Bill Frisell Band, and moved to San Francisco in 1995 to form the Tin Hat Trio. With them, he co-wrote and co-produced four critically acclaimed recordings for various major labels. In 2001, Burger moved back to New York where he worked closely with composer John Zorn, contributing as a featured soloist to many of his scores and recordings. He has released two full-length solo recordings on the Tzadik label, entitled Lost Photograph (2002) and City of Strangers (2009). During this time, Rob continued to utilize his multi-instrumental skills, gracing the stage and recordings of some of music’s most acclaimed artists including Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithfull, Sting, Rufus Wainwright, Antony & the Johnsons, Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams, Tracy Chapman, Iron & Wine, Beth Orton, and Laurie Anderson.
Burger has scored and contributed as a soloist to a number of feature and documentary films including Everything is Illuminated, Diminished Capacity, 360, The Treatment, The Good Girl, Bully, The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan, Chelsea on the Rocks, and Nebraska.
A versatile composer and player of multiple instruments, Rob has served as a "do-it-all, one-stop shop" producing music and sound design for clients such as Toyota, Safeway, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Scholastic, and Mercedes-Benz.
Ben Lovett is a composer, songwriter, producer, and performer whose work seems to cross every genre while remaining distinctly modern and untraditional. Lovett has been the recipient of multiple awards and worldwide recognition for numerous collaborative musical and visual projects.
As a composer, Ben has written and performed original music for a wide range of feature films including Synchronicity (Magnolia Pictures), which earned him a recent nomination for “ Discovery Of The Year” at the 2016 World Soundtrack Awards. Ben originally burst onto the scene at Sundance in 2007 with his score for The Signal (Magnolia Pictures) — an Independent Spirit Award nominee and enduring cult favorite, following up his film debut Last Goodbye, an indie drama starring Faye Dunaway and David Carradine. He has since composed and performed original scores for a diverse range of feature films including the Duplass brothers-produced thriller Black Rock (Lion’s Gate) starring Kate Bosworth and Lake Bell; critic favorite and Gotham -Award nominee Sun Don’t Shine (Factory 25) from acclaimed director Amy Seimetz; in addition to scoring multiple television programs for MTV, Disney, Verizon, and Cartoon Network’s Toonami and Adult Swim.
Ever the collaborator, Lovett recently debuted the songwriting project, Lovers & Friends, featuring a collection of songs written through a series of blind dates with different songwriters, each the product of a spontaneous moment between unique strangers. The accompanying web series, Lovers & Friends: Season One, showcases one-on-one conversations between Lovett and each collaborating songwriter about the elusive magic of the creative process and the unpredictable dynamics which emerge between two artists with no shared experience beyond the present moment. The featured musicians include songwriters for Rogue Wave, Panic At The Disco!, Lana Del Rey, Fitz & The Tantrums and many others, each bringing their own unique voice to the conversation.
Lovett’s debut album of orignal songs, “Highway Collection” was recorded on a yearlong trip around the United States and features different musicians on every tune. But the songs aren't the whole story to the album project, as Lovett’s visual contributions are noless artistic and compelling. Collaborating with a cadre of independent filmmakers, Lovett set out to create a visual counterpart for each song on Highway Collection, conceiving, coordinating, starring and contributing to them at every level. The result has catapulted the artist into worldwide viral recognition with each successive release, beginning with the visually stunning hybrid animation short, Eye Of The Storm, which exploded across the web and instantly solidified itself into the pop culture mainstream, firing past its first million views and gathering universal praise and an honorary Webby award within weeks of its release.
More followed, including an award-winning collaboration with director David Bruckner (V/H/S, Southbound) for The Fear, an inspired, single-shot microcosm of society featuring over 400 volunteer extras; Ghost of Old Highways, a wildly ambitious period film based on the song of the same name, which was re-scored with new music based around the original song, on it’s way to 9 international film awards and screenings in 5 different countries; and Lovett’s video for All The Time, where he brought the talents of over 35 different directors under one roof to create.
Born in rural Georgia, Ben stumbled into a music career in Athens while attending the University of Georgia, spending his college tuition on recording equipment and frequently cutting classes to produce and engineer with bands all over town. It was a short and serendipitous leap from producing other people’s songs to scoring feature films, and when a friend asked Lovett for soundtrack help on his first movie, he jumped right in. Since then Lovett’s music has been called “supremely invigorating.” His videos are written about astours de force. His film scores are praised for their unique character and impact. But Lovett’s music might have been best characterized by renowned producer Danger Mouse, who described Ben’s work as a, “beautifully haunting aural experience... it sounds like a Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie looks.” His music has been on the radio, on television, at film festivals, and in movie theaters. But, like most innovators, Ben Lovett is an artist who appears less concerned with where he’s been before and more focused on everywhere he’s headed next.
Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders
A one of a kind variety show with celebrated musicians, writers and comedians.You'll laugh, think and sing along. Sometimes all at once. A little bit vaudeville, a little bit literary and a lot of rock n' roll - you can never predict what's inside the Cabinet of Wonders.
Since its inception in 2009, Cabinet of Wonders has established itself in New York and on tour in the USA and Europe, as an exciting stage for both prominent and emerging voices in music, literature and comedy. State originally conceived Cabinet of Wonders as a way to bring together his creative friends; he handpicks the performers and facilitates unusual onstage collaborations for each show, managing to weave the diverse lineup into an unforgettable night. An acclaimed artist in his own right, Stace has released 16 albums under the name John Wesley Harding, one under his birth name, and published four novels.