Episode 240: James Jackson Toth (of Wooden Wand)


“Every once in a while,” James Jackson Toth explains, “you make a record and it feels like the message in the bottle sinking before it gets to the other shore.” Between official Wooden Wand albums, CD-Rs, online releases, records issued as a full band and the occasional under his own name, something’s bound to fall through the cracks every once in a while. But even with the constant flux of musical approaches, record labels and naming conventions, the singer has been quite consistent in quality, as one a member of a long, proud history of enigmatic troubadours armed with little more than a guitar and a memorable voice. After all these years, he seems a bit exhausted by live performance. Or maybe it’s just the pre-show jitters as we take a pair of chairs on stage at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right. Touring’s tough on any musician, and these days it can seem like a downright crapshoot whether on not you’ll be able to fill the place. There’s always fulfillment in the music making process, however — and new ideas and sounds to exploring on ever subsequent record. He describes his latest, Clipper Ship, as ‘exploded string band music,’ a description I find myself still attempting to wrap my head around.“If you don’t have anything new to say,” Both explains, simply, “don’t make a new record.”

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