David Wilcox is uncompromising when it comes to the integrity of his folk-based music.
This is both his problem and his strength.
On one hand, this has been death to his career. He simply cannot and will not make music that gets played on the radio.
On the other hand, it has made him a cult figure, an artist intensely admired if not by millions, at least by tens of thousands. They love him for his imagery, his literate spirituality and his very disdain for conventional popularity.
It’s the David Wilcox dichotomy, and here’s another way to describe it: He was dropped by his record label, A&M;, after his albums dropped below the 100,000-copy sales level. Yet he is now more respected than ever.
Performing Songwriter magazine called him “a near-deity in the acoustic music world.”
This year, two things have helped enlarge his reach. He was the subject of a massive, admiring profile in the Washington Post. And k.d. lang used his song “My Old Addiction” as the centerpiece of her new album, “Drag.”
Meanwhile, Wilcox keeps on doing what he is compelled to do, which is write and record new music (his most recent album is “Turning Point” on the small Koch label) and to tour small venues tirelessly. He plays about 120 dates a year.
His music is often compared to that of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, and his voice has a distinct Taylor-like quality to it. But his songs are even more intense, more driven, more like they were written by a man incessantly searching for meaning and truth.
In fact, his latest album is his most spiritual. Yet on stage, he softens it with between-song stories that make the show almost a comedy performance.
This will be his fourth appearance at The Met and his first since 1993.
He has always drawn good crowds at The Met, testament to his remarkable underground following.
Jonathan Karp’s Washington Post story quoted one of his admirers (“fans” is hardly a sufficient term) as saying, “It sounds like worship and I really hate that, because it’s just gratitude. He’s got integrity.”
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: David Wilcox will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Met. Tickets are $14 at the door or $12.50 in advance, available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.