Golden Boy holds court at Beerland
You might not guess it from seeing one of his inspirationally flailing performances with the Golden Boys or as a solo act under his own name, but John Wesley “Wes” Coleman works hard and takes his craft seriously.
His new album, “Bad Girl Goes to Jail,” should be out in a few months on the wellrespected Goner Records label. Its followup, “The Last Donkey Show,” recorded with onetime Texan and garage rock star Greg Ashley, is in the can as well. No word yet on where that will end up.
Coleman’s last solo album, “Steal My Mind,” was released in November.
His band the Golden Boys has released four albums since 2005, including two last year. Coleman’s also working on a novel, “Jim Now,” the chronicles of Jim Morrison had he not died.
The Lizard King would be “writing jingles for commercials,” Coleman says by phone. We’d meet in person, but he’s on his shift at Salvation Pizza. “What I would love to do is publish this book and do a tour where I do a reading during the day and play a show at night.”
Coleman isn’t fond of downtime. He’s playing (or, in the case of Monday night, hosting) six nights of shows at Beerland. “A Week of Wes,” according to Beerland booker Max “Max Dropout” Meehan, with a variety of acts playing the shows with Coleman and his band.
“I just love playing as much as I can,” Coleman says. “It’s like going on tour and only playing at one spot.”
It sounds absurd. “When he came to me with the idea, he was kinda wasted,” Meehan says. “He said, ‘I wanna play every night for a week,’ and I don’t think he thought I would go for it. I liked the idea. It seemed so stupid it might work.”
Meehan says it also helped that Coleman’s music works in a number of contexts. The Golden Boys moved from equal parts noise and melodies reminiscent of the Band’s more rocking moments to something a little more straightforward and rootsy.
“The first time I saw Wes was a pretty early Golden Boys show, when (original drummer) James (Arthur) was still in the band,” Meehan says. “Wes was all over the place and James seemed really mad at him. At one point, he fell over while playing and his head landed inside the hole in the front of James’s kick drum. James started to kick it really hard, like, trying to hurt Wes. All I could think was, ‘This is horrible and amazing at the same time.’”
We’ve all calmed down a bit since then, but Coleman has become something of a renaissance man of the rock idiom. Acoustic psychedelia, roots rock, blown-out noise, pop songs — Coleman can do it all.
Most of the time the backing band will include former Strange Boys drummer Matt Hammer, Bad Sports multi-instrumentalist Orville Neeley, Golden Boys organist Nathan Arbeitman and Jeremy Steen from the Fleshlights on bass. But at this rate, anyone could be up there.
Monday, Coleman hosts Beerland’s usual karaoke night, but Tuesday’s gig is one of the garage-y sets, headlined by primitive rock maniac the Reverend Beat-Man with sets from John Schooley and others. (It’s an early show, with bands starting at 9 p.m.)
On Wednesday, Arthur’s new band James Arthur’s Manhunt — think the Golden Boys if they had stayed the course on the noise thing — plays a set on a bill that includes Coleman’s crew and organ-driven soul-rock act A Few Nice Things.
Thursday is noisier stuff, with Coma in Algiers, Followed by Statis and the newest iteration of Attack Formation, simply called the Formation. Friday is punkier garage with Fleshlights, Bass Drum of Death and the Bad Sports.
Coleman opens the Friday show, followed by Fleshlights, a Missouri act called Bass Drum of Death and Texas garage stars Bad Sports. Look for Comanche Club, Light Me Up and more on Saturday.
Coleman says patrons who come on multiple nights will hear something new each time. “I have about 40 songs I can draw from, and I might make a few up on the spot,” he says. Few people have heard material from “The Last Donkey Show.” “We had a horn section and lots of honky-tonk boogie piano,” Coleman says.
“I wish I could have figured out a hip-hop bill for Wes to be on,” Meehan says. “I’m sure he would have been great on that also.”
John Wesley ‘Wes’ Coleman plays a diverse collection of musical styles with the Golden Boys as well as solo. Next week, he’s the king of Beerland for six nights of performances.