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John Wesley Harding

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Wesley Stace was born in Hastings, Sussex in 1965, and educated at The King’s School, Canterbury, and Jesus College, Cambridge. Under the name, John Wesley Harding, he has released fifteen albums, ranging from traditional folk to full on pop music. One of his most recent pop releases Adam’s Apple (2004) was called “the finest album of his career” (All Music Guide), “one of his best, a sharp collection of pop that cleverly weds sunny melodies to dark matters” (The New Yorker) and “a dazzling piece of popcraft that shows wide range and real heart” (No Depression.)

John Wesley Harding has been joined onstage by Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, John Prine, Bruce Springsteen (with whom he recorded a duet on his album Awake), Joan Baez, Peter Buck, Evan Dando, David Baddiel, Rick Moody, Scott MacCaughey and Robyn Hitchcock amongst others. He has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. His songs have been featured in films (including High Fidelity) and covered by other artists. His most recent record was “Songs of Misfortune”, a (mostly) a capella recording by The Love Hall Tryst, featuring the ballads from his first novel, Misfortune. The recently released DVD “A Bloody Show” documents an epic show filmed at Bumbershoot in Seattle, featuring songs from Misfortune, on which JWH is accompanied by a rock band, a string quartet and The Love Hall Tryst, and readings from the novel, with Robyn Hitchcock as the narrator.

Misfortune, under his real name Wesley Stace, was published to great acclaim in 2004 by Little, Brown (USA) and Jonathan Cape (UK) - translations followed in Italy, France (where it has become a bestseller), Holland, Taiwan, Japan, Israel, etc. It was nominated for The Guardian First Book Award, The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, 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 novel, by George, was published in August 2007; it was one of the New York Public Library’s Books to Remember of 2007, and Booklist Editor’s Choice for books of the year.

He recently wrote the introduction for the The Modern Library edition of Charles Dickens’ The Haunted House, and published an essay called Listerine: The Life and Opinions of Laurence Sterne, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, in Post Road 5. He has also written three chapbooks of lyrics and notes: Collected Stories (1991), John Wesley Harding’s New Deal (1995) and Notes Towards a Clarification of The Confessions of St.Ace (2000). He has published articles on various subjects in Raygun, Creem, Beach Culture, Washington Law and No Depression.

After placing his music career on hold while working as an author (under his real name, JWH releases his first rock album in five years. Contributors include The Minus Five as his backing band - Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Kelly Hogan, Mike Viola, and Earl Slick (David Bowie). It includes a bonus live greatest hits CD Don’t Look Back Now, recorded at Union Hall, Brooklyn.

There’s an amusing irony in the fact that Harding has gotten better at making records now that he’s doing it part time, but The Sound of His Own Voice (2011) is not only stronger in every respect than Who Was Changed…, it’s one of the most consistently satisfying albums of his career, and sounds more like the proper follow-up to the excellent Here Comes the Groom than anything he’s made since.

He has lived in America since 1991, and resides in Fort Greene, Brooklyn with his wife Abbey, and their daughter Tilda.


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