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Wesley “Mother Scratchin'” Willis will rock you

Wesley Willis
Meow Meow
Sunday 9:30 p.m.
All ages

Wesley Willis is rocking his way into the heart, and hearts, of Portland, Ore. at the Meow Meow this Sunday (Jan. 13, all ages). Wesley Willis will be performing his uncomfortably tone-deaf, intoxicatingly hilarious and oh-so blunt songs about the American cultural phenomenon he calls life.

His songs and style are nothing short of pure entertainment, and at times extremely insightful. I dare you to try to blink when you are watching this man perform.

Wesley has gone solo folks. His back-up band Fiasco has been replaced by his beloved Technics KN2000 keyboard which he programs with little deviation in tempo and melody. Basically, you get country setting number eight on every song, he changes only his bizarre singing style and lyrics. Don’t let this deter you from seeing this amazingly interesting man live. The fact is, Wesley has received worldwide fame for his bizarre performances.

He has rubbed elbows with everyone from Steve Albini to the Beastie Boys’ Mike D.

He has been the focus of no fewer than three documentary films. He has recorded over 30 albums, two of which are on major labels. In his over 10 years of writing and performing he has written well over 700 songs. His last three albums, entitled Wesley Willis’ Greatest Hits I, Greatest Hits II and his latest, Rush Hour, were released by Jello Biafra’s (ex-Dead Kennedys) San Francisco label Alternative Tentacles.

Willis’s life has not always been one of success and underground praise.

As a life-long native of the windy city, Willis was born and raised into the often hopeless and deadly south side of Chicago. As a young boy, he and his nine siblings were abandoned by their father. Willis’ mother was left with virtually nothing.

Willis lived on the streets selling his intensely detailed artwork until Oct. 21, 1989. On that fateful day, he began hearing voices in his head; Willis was diagnosed as a schizophrenic.

Willis has taken his illness and turned it into his creative driving force. He explains that writing, performing and recording help quiet the voices in his head. His lyrics are products of his inner voices.

“My mind plays tricks on me every time I try to say something,” he said.

Willis is a prolific musician that sets no rules for himself – his songs range from bold social statements to the world of fantasy. If you take a look at the titles of some of his songs, one gets a feel for his persona: “I whooped Batman’s ass,” “Kris Kringle was a car thief,” “They threw me out of church,” and one of my personal favorites, “I’m sorry I got fat.”

Willis’ underground fame has not corrupted this 360-pound, 6-foot-4 man who formerly sold sketches on Chicago sidewalks. He is a sweetheart who loves his art and the people he shares it with. If your a lucky little fan, Willis will give you a head butt. The head butting is Wesley’s way of telling you he appreciates his fans and that he likes you.

This giant teddy bear, who barely fits into his thrift-store-reject clothes, will rock your pants off. It is not going to be your typical show, because he’s is not your typical man. So if you have grown tired of predictable rock shows or spendy hip-hop meat markets, then check this shit out man, you won’t be disappointed!

I want to leave you all with a little quote by the man:

“I’m a big man. I’m a musician. I’m a rock ‘n’ roller. I am solo keyboard and I am a good rock singer. I sing just like a white boy. I sing just like a blues guitarist singing to a lot of people. Praise the Lord when I rock ‘n’ roll like a magic kiss. I get down just like a magic kiss. Each time when I run my mouth and never shut up, that’s the way it is, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”