Irrelevant Interviews - James Jackson Toth of Wooden Wand
Wooden Wand is not going to be at SXSW this year, and that’s totally fine. He doesn’t need to be.
You see, in some children’s-book fantasy world where everything has it’s place, where every town has its butcher, they have their dentist and their lawyer and their chef and bus driver, James Jackson Toth of Wooden Wand, I’m convinced, would be their musician. In a land where everyone was born to be whatever they were and completely fulfilled in their enterprises because, quite simply, there was nothing else they could have ever fathomed becoming, in a world with no social hierarchies, where there were no dashed dreams and passions misguided by motives of fame, sex, prestige, money, and other selfish pursuits, James Jackson Toth would still be making music.
I think this world only exists in Richard Scarry books, I know, but I started this diatribe because James Jackson Toth, i.e., Wooden Wand, falls into a rare category of modern musicians where, quite simply, I truly believe he makes music because he doesn’t know what else he could possibly do. Music is not a means to an end for him, simply his only choice. He’s not doing it to impress people. He’s not trying to get laid, or live in an extended state of adolescence. He’s not hopping on the next big wave. He’s not populating his touring band with foxy young chicks or hip-looking dudes full of sneers. And he’s just incredibly talented. The world is a better place for having his music in it, and deep down, I think he knows that when you’re born with that kind of raw talent, you are obliged to share it with the world.
People like that don’t need to go to SXSW and jump through the giant corporate dog and pony show. SXSW doesn’t really have much room for the quiet and profound. You can’t listen to words that well and digest meaning when spring breakers are chugging free Red Bull right next to you, crushing the cans on one another’s faces. It’s hard to uncover hidden meanings beneath simply constructed verse when someone is vomiting onto your shoe. It’s hard to get pulled into an eerie refrain when you really, really, need to take a shit.
I hope Wooden Wand is remembered for a long time as being on of the best lyricists of this era of music. I hope from reading this you check out his ghostly melodies and heart-wrenching lyrical delivery. He doesn’t have a pretty voice in a traditional sense. He’s not 23 and making synth rock. He’s not very of the moment and will most likely never be gobbled up by any kind of hype machine. But he will continue to make good music, I’m sure of that, and as every album gets better, I’m excited.
03.12.13 - Washington, DC @ 9th and Beats
03.13.13 - Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
Photos by Leah Hutchison Toth
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