Wesley Stace is a greedy, greedy man. It isn’t enough that he’s had a decades-long musical career as his alter ego, folk/pop singer John Wesley Harding – he just had to become a novelist as well.
Fortunately, he’s got the talent to back it up: his third book, “Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer,” is a lush, witty historical thriller detailing the relationship between a music critic and a gifted young composer, and the murder that connects them in 1920s London.
“Writing is very solitary, and music is very sociable, so they make very good bedfellows,” says Stace. “Everything I try to do in a song - economically and allusively - is completely different to what I want to do in a novel, so they require very distinct exercises skill-sets. Clearly, at some point, I felt music wasn't quite enough.”
And he can add “impresario” to his job title as well. He’s now in his third year of curating the Cabinet of Wonders series, a monthly variety show featuring authors, comedians, and musicians.
The next event is at City Winery on Friday, February 11, and has performances by Ted Leo, The Fiery Furnaces, novelist Rivka Galchen, and more. (He’ll also be appearing with Alex Ross, the music critic of The New Yorker, and author of “The Rest is Noise,” to discuss his book at Hunter College on February 23rd, as part of their Distinguished Writers Series.)
“The audiences seem to leave very happy,” says Stace. “The great thing about a variety show is that if you don't like something, there will be something else great on in ten minutes.”
Stace is keenly aware he has thrown in with the two industries that have struggled in recent years to find their footing within the digital world. But he is optimistic for the future. “The hope lies in rediscovering the beauty of the physical object and then finding a way for it to work in tandem with an electronic version,” he says.
If You Go
Friday, 8 p.m.
155 Varick St.