Posts Tagged ‘Wooden Wand’

In May of 2015, I traveled to Chicago to record some songs for my album Clipper Ship. The band for these sessions was bassist Darin Gray, guitarist Jim Elkington, percussionist Glenn Kotche, and multi-instrumentalist Jim Becker. We recorded four songs in just a few days. Two of the songs made it onto the album, but I ultimately decided to omit the remaining two, as they did not fit with my concept of the album.

Everyone told me I was crazy to cut these songs, as they had been the favorites of everyone who heard them, but I’ve never blanched at the murder of darlings: the two songs I cut were decidedly more ‘rock’ and, while it pained me to omit them, I knew I’d eventually have to release these songs. Well, eventually is now.
Included here for the first time are the two previously unheard songs recorded at this session with some of the most inventive and creative musicians a songwriter could ever hope to know.

released November 27th, 2017

Darin Gray – electric bass, piano
Glenn Kotche – percussion
Jim Becker – vocals, fiddle, piano
James Elkington – vocals, lap steel, electric guitar
JT – acoustic guitar, vocals

Faraway Faultlines: 
Darin Gray – electric bass
Glenn Kotche – percussion
Jim Becker – electric guitar
James Elkington – electric guitar
JT – acoustic guitar, vocals

Says Swans frontman and head of Young God Records Michael Gira, James Jackson Toth’s “got that picaresque quality that Dylan had in his heyday, wherein the shambolic narrator undergoes various travails and epiphanies—harrowing, bleak and darkly comical—in the course of a narrative, then leaves you mystified, both smiling and sad.” They are collections of outtakes, demos and songs that never, for one reason or another, made it onto his other recording output.

Toth’s Law, Volume II 
The response to the first volume of home recordings (Toth’s Law Vol. I, now deleted) was really positive, so here’s a second batch, with a third (and likely final) installment to come before the end of the year. All songs here written / recorded sometime between 2008 and 2016.

This time I thought I’d provide a little context by offering a few brief notes on the songs:
“Drug Sniffing Dogs”
About conflicts of interest and cognitive dissonance. I was probably also thinking about Fugazi’s “Great Cop.”
Considered (but not recorded) for the upcoming One Eleven Heavy project (shhhhhh!). This song has been kicking around, in various forms, since at least 1998. Can’t seem to get it exactly right.
“You Could Have a Job” 
“Hall of Mirrors”
The first of two songs re-recorded for the Carlos The Second album, Regal Beast (available elsewhere on Bandcamp).
“Art of War” 
Written after being challenged to write a jingle about a work of literature. After the first few lines it went somewhere else.
“Rockabye Kid” 
Recorded with the Briarwood Virgins band around the time of the Briarwood LP, left off the record for reasons I no longer remember. Full band version will be released on limited edition single later this year; this demo version originally appeared on a scandalously limited lathe cut 7” released on the Sonido Polifonico label.
“Don’t Let Love Make a Liar Out of You”
Eventually re-recorded for the album Regal Beast by Carlos The Second, a band I co-founded with good friend and collaborator Ryan “Coupler’ Norris, and featuring guest vocals by old pal Langhorne Slim. This is the original, previously unreleased demo version, exclusive to this release.
“One Can’t Only Love” 
A sort of ‘answer song’ to the similarly titled “One Can Only Love,” found on the most recent Wooden Wand album, Clipper Ship (Three Lobed Records, 2017). Still not sure which side I’m on.
“Fuzzy’s Smokehouse” 
A tribute to the operator of said smokehouse, and a very dear friend.
“Everything I’ve Lost” 
A sequel to my own song “Collateral Damage,” also about a dog. Dogs pop up in a lot of my songs.
As always, I reserve the right to delete this release without notice (and probably will) so grab it while you can. 




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After what seems like an uncharacteristically long silence, longstanding Wooden Wand has shared details of a new album, Clipper Ship, to be released on the 29th April.

The first taste from it is Mexican Coke, a typically understated, gently strummed and elegant folk song that reminds us all of what we’ve been missing . Lyrically there are few who can match his way with words – somehow managing in a few short turns of phrase to be genuinely thought provoking, reflective, poignant and occasionally slyly humorous. The evidence is all there in Mexican Coke – a subtle gem and a very welcome return.

In a world of guitar players, James “Wooden Wand” Toth remains first and foremost a songwriter and lyricist. “Clipper Ship”, however, presents a break in tradition: in attempting to emancipate himself from old habits, Toth wrote most of the songs on “Clipper Ship” ‘music first,’ adding lyrics later, a reversal of the tried and true method that has made him one of the most prolific and respected songwriters of his generation. The result is the most democratically-conceived, multi-layered, and musically sophisticated album in the vast Wooden Wand discography.

“Clipper Ship” is the first proper full-length Wooden Wand album since 2014. Performers include Darin Gray (On Fillmore, Dazzling Killmen, Jim O’Rourke, Tweedy, William Tyler, etc), Ryan Norris (Coupler, Lambchop), Glenn Kotche (On Fillmore, Wilco), Jim Becker (Califone, Iron & Wine), Nathan Salsburg (Joan Shelley), Kyle Hamlett (Lylas), Josh Wright & Seth Murphy (Bear Medicine), Luke Schneider (Margo Price, JEFF The Brotherhood, Natural Child, William Tyler, etc), Zak Riles (Watter, Grails), and Jim Elkington (Tweedy, Horse’s Ha, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn).


releases April 29th, 2017.


Wooden Wand is the stage name of singer-songwriter James Jackson Toth, who has recorded under his given name as well as the name WAND. The style of music recorded by Toth and his many incarnations has drawn on a variety of experimental folk and rock influences, Though he was significant player in the New Weird America trend  along with Devendra Banhart, Akron/Family, Joanna Newsom, and collaborators The Vanishing Voice, Toth has been difficult to pigeonhole in one genre;

Wooden Wand’s collaborations have been nearly as wandering and nomadic as Toth himself, a New York native who attended Purchase College before relocating to Knoxville, Tennessee, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and most recently Lexington, Kentucky.