July 9, 2015

Ask Andrew W.K. : ‘How Do I Become A Successful Musician’



[Editor’s note: Every week, New York City’s own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose, or — no surprise here — a party. Need his help? Just ask:AskAWK@villagevoice.com]

Dear Andrew,

Since I was very young, I’ve always wanted to be a successful musician. I have practiced and played in many bands and done everything I can to get my music out there, but the dream of making it big just seems to get further away and more impossible. I feel like I should just give up, but I love music so much and want to succeed at it. How can I get there? How can I be a really successful musician?

Thanks, Striving For Success


Dear Striving For Success,

This is an excellent question and I’m going to answer it as simply and as directly as I can, with the hopes that it makes the point as clear and as helpful as possible.

The traditional modern concept of success — being the measurement of monetary income as the primary indicator of effort and mastery in a certain field — is essentially a scam, a con, and a lie. To equate success with an amount of money earned, or an amount of fame achieved, is at best an unfortunate miscomprehension of the very nature of success. At worst, it’s a malicious distortion.

To truly succeed at something is to devote yourself to what you love, and to allow that devotion to bring out the best and most admirable qualities inside of you, so that in the end, you ultimately succeed at the only effort that really matters: becoming a better person than you were.

The musician whose efforts in music only add to the size of their bank account is really just a businessperson — a successful banker, not necessarily a successful musician. If music is the means to an end, and that end is money, the music might as well be real estate investment, or commodity trading. Individuals whose primary interest in music is positioning themselves to impress others with their style and wealth may be successful marketers and salesmen, but they’re not successful musicians, or even successful human beings. They’re just rich.andrew_wk_dmp

The idea that making money is the best indication of success is fundamentally flawed. Far too often the individuals who make the most money are the biggest failures in every other area of life, most notably those related to personal integrity, kindhearted values, and quality of character. Many people think that achieving material success is worth total sacrifice in every other part of their life — but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Success in one area of life should enable further and more meaningful success in all the other areas, too. Success materially and failure spiritually is no success at all.

Furthermore, success is not power over others, but discipline over oneself. Success is not doing whatever one wants, but doing what one is truly meant to do. Success is not fulfilling one’s most immediate desires, but fulfilling one’s true purpose — and fulfilling it despite obstacles, inconvenience, or how much it differs from what one otherwise feels like doing.

At best, the typical material conception of success inspires the shallowest and most superficial type of selfish ambition, and at worst, it keeps one hopelessly locked in a cycle of perceived failure, vicious competition, and unfulfilled lustful desire. It’s set up from the start as a losing game, so that no one can ever really succeed, because in the contest to see who is “biggest” or “richest,” no one ever really wins. You just keep scheming and clawing and battling, getting closer to emptiness and further from the truly worthwhile things in life.

Music, like all the arts, is a sacred pursuit. It is an end in itself. The reward of playing music is in the joy of experiencing it, and a successful musician is the person who becomes so connected with that spirit of music that he or she becomes inseparable from it. The successful musician aspires to be music itself.

So, for you to be a successful musician, all you have to do is really, really love playing music. Really, really, really love it. Worship it and adore it and turn yourself over to it. And then allow the music to make you a better person from the inside out, not just a richer person or a more famous person, but a more valuable person to the people around you and to the world, and to yourself.

Now go put all the energy you’ve spent worrying that you’re not successful enough into just playing and loving your instrument. If you can say that you’re in love with playing it, you can say that you’re successful. Never give up on what you love. It’s what makes life worth living.

Your friend, Andrew W.K.

Read all of Andrew W.K.’s advice columns here.

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November 5, 2014

AllAboutJazz Italia!

A new review of The Wee Trio from my second most favorite country.

“Listening to Live at the Bistro is a truly exciting and fulfilling for Both the mind and the body. We hope to see them as soon as possible and listen to These latitudes.” – Di Luigi Sforza – Italian Allaboutjazz

Italian Language



The Wee Trio: Live at the Bistro

The beautiful cover of the CD-Wee Trio-style comic pop art, Roy Lichtenstein, including onomatopoeia-represents the three musicians in the act of playing.The music is a dynamic and multi-faceted, in line with possible variations of a company on the move.The combination of pop art and  Live at the Bistro  -Disco photographing the performance of the homonymous group of local St. Louis for a couple of years away from  Ashes to Ashes: David Bowie Intraspective -not accidental. Like the works of Lichtenstein, the disk contains no distinction between genders. Pop and bop, funk and rock, swing and cool jazz are references in the joint process of kaleidoscopic musical representation of the group. Each piece is in itself a synthesis of poetic antolologica of the trio, where nothing is hidden within the parameters to change. The execution of each piece is malleable, constantly moving. The sound tracks are not closed square. They evoke images always changing.Live at the Bistro  evokes an imaginary dream in which live sound American “high culture” and “low” energy, frenzy, meditative space, the ability to change perspective and direction to the music, a sense of belonging to a linguistic syntax jazz identity of the modern type , aspiration and realization of a democratic music, in which the parity between vibraphone ( James Westfall ), bass ( Dan Loomis ) and battery ( Jared Schönig ) is the formal discipline of the entire project.That Wee Trio is made ​​up of creative originality of the sound is shown that he knows is powerful, supple, expressive and full of adogmatici references if necessary lackluster. Apart from the aforementioned genres, music that is known to be nicely decorated with baroque-music echoes even then understanding of the jazz tradition that leads inevitably to the  Modern Jazz Quartet .
The trio’s music will not surprise artificially and a priori, simply amazed at the way in which is built: it feeds the exchange of ideas between musicians and performances by no means obvious.
The strength of the group comes from the game of the parts, dall’interplay-that is the mainstay of sound-and an approach to the musical culture of pragmatic – pluralistic and multilingual-in which the unexpected combinations are the norm.

What are the standards (“Cherokee” and “There Is No Greater Love”), to pop songs by David Bowie (“Queen Bitch”) or original pieces (“Sabotage,” “White Trash Blues,” “New Earth” and “Ranthem”), the assumption is the same: to give the performances a deep sense of lightness music. This makes the song highly legible to the user, despite the valuable traits of craftsmanship and technical mastery.

Listening to  Live at the Bistro  is a truly exciting and fulfilling for both the mind and the body. We hope to see them as soon as possible and listen to these latitudes.

Track Listing: Cherokee; Drum Intro; Sabotage; Vibraphone Intro; hite Trash Blues; Queen Bitch; Bass Intro; There Is No Greater Love; Space Jugglers; New Earth; Ranthem; Tig Mack; Drum Intro; White Out.

Personnel: James Westfall: vibraphone; Dan Loomis bass; Jared Schönig: drums.

Record Label: Bionic Records

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June 25, 2014


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March 25, 2014


January 13, 2014

Louisiana Weekly

New Orleans Jazz CDs of 2013

imgres“Vibraphonist James Westfall, a Houston native who again makes his residence in New Orleans, is an immaculate player who assembled The Wee Trio, a talented and aggressive group, in 2005. The Wee Trio Live at the Bistro stands as an excellent representation of the variety of rhythms, styles and textures – from funk, to swing and even a cover of David Bowie’s “Queen Bitch” – of their performances.” – Geraldine Wyckoff

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January 3, 2014

Offbeat Awards

Every year Offbeat Magazine hosts an awards banquet here in New Orleans. I’m honored to be on a list with musicians that I look up to and/or have mentored my career. The idea of winning or “beating” these artists has no appeal to me but I can’t help but to feel honored to be mentioned on the same list!


If you would like take part in the voting process you can click on the link below.



Or if you would like attend the event please visit:


December 18, 2013

The Wee Trio in Downbeat Magazine


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October 17, 2013

James Westfall Quartet at the Ellis Marsalis Center this Tuesday


October 5, 2013

Saturday October 12th 8pm

Live at the Marigny Opera House

Celebrated husband and wife James and Kathleen Westfall (the vibraphonist and the classical soprano) present a recital of modern repertoire blending varieties of musical genres. A free event; suggested donation: $15

2013Kathleen_headshot-240x300photo: Scott Myers

photo: Scott Myers

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August 24, 2013

The Colt 45s

The Colt 45’s EP has just been released as a FREE DOWNLOAD! 


Westfall_Colt45_CD Cover


Download your copy here and enjoy the sounds of some New Orleans finest country legends:


James Westfall – Vox, Piano, Organ, Vibraphone
Alex Pena – Vox, Acoustic Guitar
Jesse Smith – Electiric Guitar
Trey Boudreaux – Bass
Nick Solnick – Drums
Rex Gregory – Saxophone

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