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Folk hero Weddell hits Nyne tonight

At any given moment Wes Weddell might be up to a number of projects in any given part of the Northwest: arranging music with middle school students in Renton; annually hosting the Tri-Cities Tumbleweed Music Festival; promoting local and touring acts statewide through his nonprofit production company; exploring the region’s rural communities and chronicling his adventures in song; and recording music in his bass player’s garage, as well as touring throughout the U.S.

Here’s what the Seattle folk hero and Pullman native, who performs in Spokane tonight and Uniontown, Wash., on Saturday, is up to at this particular moment:

New music: Last year Weddell released his fourth full-length album, “By the Side of the Lake.” It features the return of his band on 11 tracks of folk Americana that meander between the full ensemble and Weddell’s voice accompanied by only guitar, banjo or mandolin.

The title track was inspired by observations on Lake Coeur d’Alene. 

“The community has changed and I’m having to accept that a place that is very dear to me has become very different. It’s like it’s trying to become Tahoe, if you look at the development patterns, especially before the house crash,” Weddell said during a telephone interview while taking some downtime from designing sound for a children’s theater in Seattle. 

Children’s music: Weddell was commissioned by his organist, Brian Hoskins, to arrange his song “Carry On” for a choral performance with the Nelson Middle School Concert Chorus in Renton, Wash., which Hoskins directs.

The song is about World War II bomber pilot Don Shawe, whom Weddell met in Hood River, Ore., in 2002. 

“In some ways kids today are more connected to this story than people my age because they may have siblings or friends who are in the service,” the 29-year-old Weddell said. 

He is arranging another original with Nelson Middle School in the spring. 

Tumbleweed: In 2006, “Carry On” won first place in the Tumbleweed Music Festival in Richland. Weddell has since come back each year to host the songwriting contest on Labor Day. 

Puget’s Sound Productions: In 2003 Weddell launched the not-for-profit concert promoter that has since produced shows all over the state, including community centers in Seattle, brewpubs in Ballard, Wash., and the upcoming annual spring singer-songwriter showcase at a venue in Bellevue.

But lately, he has pulled back from doing many shows as a promoter. He’d rather play to his strong suit as an artist.

“I started this as a nonprofit so I could help put on shows for local and national artists that I’d like to see,” he said. “The intent was to always be all-ages and family friendly. But it takes a lot of hard work.

“Thankfully there are the Patrick Kendricks of the world who are out there doing it so well behind the scenes,” Weddell said of the Spokane-based Platform Booking promoter, with whom he often collaborates when he comes to town.

What next?: After taking some time off from touring to stay close to his ill father in 2010, Weddell is raring to get back on the road and play the new album live.

“This was the first time I ever starting making a record without all the songs already being done,” he said.

“My dad was sick and I needed something to distract myself. I would write a song on Sunday and cut it on Monday.

“As excruciating as it is, I like making records. I wish people still bought ’em.”

Tags: arts, music