Singer/clever-song writer John Wesley Harding is back with his first rock album in five years, Who was Changed and Who was Dead, and an inspired marketing plan: In advance of the March 10 release, fans can purchase various packages on his website, including the “Crazy Deluxe & Personal,” which, for $5,000, comes with a private concert at their home. While house gigs aren’t a new concept, Harding himself has shied away from them in the past. “There’s one guy whose house I’ve often played at in New Jersey, but I don’t go ’round looking for those kind of gigs,” he says. “Like, people have asked me to play their weddings, and I have said no. I mean, I’ll be the reverend and marry you, which I’ve done a couple of times, but I’m not a party band. It wouldn’t mean very much to the rest of their family having somebody playing the acoustic guitar.”
As of now, he has one confirmed date and four floating. While the rider for his upcoming public tour, Wes & Eugene’s Cabinet of Wonders with comedian Eugene Mirman and friends, is a work in progress — sample: “The dressing room must be newly painted white, and a large selection of Sharpies should be provided” — his demands for in-home performances have been finalized: “Don’t insist that I stay in your house. That won’t happen. That’s the only thing on my rider… That, and a bottle of bourbon.”
Is a private John Wesley Harding concert worth $5,000? Since Harding is also an accomplished author (his novels, Misfortune and by George, were published under his given name, Wesley Stace), we asked him to pen a list of reasons why that answer is yes…
Here are 20 Reasons Why A Private Concert By Me Is Worth $5,000:
1. The price for me NOT playing a concert at your house is $10,000, and it therefore saves you $5,000.
2. Otherwise, you might have to see me in a local club or similarly disreputable establishment, and this would mean mixing with the unwashed, unvetted and underhand. Avoiding this is worth about $4,980.
3. Because you get to pick the songs — but only if they’re ones by me that I know.
4. Because a concert in your home by anyone is worth about $3,000 — even by one of your children, if you add up the money you’ve spent on their musical tuition. And I’m probably a little bit better than them.
5. Oscar Wilde said: “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.” Don’t be a cynic. Leave that to me.
6. Because most public gigs by me are worth about $5,000, it’s just that that cost is defrayed among a large group of people paying a smaller % per head. Think of it that way. And this way you save the taxi fare, or (very important) get to drink and then not have to drive home.
7. The price for my playing a concert at your house used to be $20,000, but in these times of economic crisis, my “Obama Special” is $5,000, and that means you’re saving $15,000.
8. Because you could force your musical taste on your friends and they’d practically have to listen.
9. I did not come up with this idea. I just made the news with it. Whether a house concert by me is worth $5,000 is entirely up to the person spending the money. To many reading this, it would not be worth it: they’re going “Who is this guy?” But to the people who are going “Oh, that guy!” then they’re probably thinking either a) $5,000 is too much, b) $5,000 is totally fair or c) I’ve already paid him more than that for a private concert: why the incredible rebate?
10. Because I am a genius.
11. Because the person buying the concert is a genius.
12. It is a little known fact that I also do magic and ventriloquism.
13. Because this will be a once in a lifetime concert, rather like the many other once in a lifetime concerts of its type.
14. If you like my music as much as I like The Bee Gees, then it’s totally worth $5,000. Unbelievable though it is that I like The Bee Gees that much.
15. The Kremlin recently denied that Putin attended a private concert by an ABBA cover band. See the moron news. Don’t force The Kremlin to deny that you attended one by me. That gig incidentally cost $45,000, which I think makes my point quite nicely.
16. I may bring some of my friends — they’re supercool and won’t run riot in your house much.
17. Can I point out that only $4,250 actually goes to me? My agent and manager both get their commission. You could pay me directly and we could put them out of the picture entirely. Just a suggestion. Is this going to be in print?
18. Every man has a price. You just have to find out how much it is. David Bowie’s is quite high, and rightly so. Mine is lower. That bloke you’ve never heard of and would hate if you had? He pays to play. Capiche?
19. “We can succeed only by private concert.” — Abraham Lincoln
20. Because if I die soon, my price will soar.
Watch John Wesley Harding perform “Congratulations (on your Hallucinations)” from his new album… in someone’s living room