“There are battles in these classrooms, there are battles in these hearts,” sings Konrad Wert in “Be at Rest.” “And if we don’t start to work together, man, this whole damn thing will fall apart.”
Since the release of Possessed by Paul James’ previous album, 2013’s There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely, Wert – a teacher of 20 years – has gone from schooling sweet little children with developmental disabilities to teens with emotional disturbances. In September, a student with special needs at his school in Kerrville died in a law enforcement-involved shooting. Attendees at the one-man band’s enthralling performances already know he’s prone to proselytize about the urgency of educational support.
“The reason teachers like myself are so vocal is because we see the tragedy and dire need for help every single day,” he explains, decrying the federal movement toward privatizing education. “It’s amazing we still don’t culturally recognize that we’re failing miserably with child development.”
Teaching factors heavily into PPJ’s new collection, As We Go Wandering, as does love, aging, life’s challenges, and family. “I Come From SW Florida,” delineating his Mennonite roots, stands as his most sentimental and detailed personal history. Strings and female voices, largely sourced from Austin, embellish an LP that exists as the 43-year-old’s most folky and least rowdy.
Be assured: That makes it no less potent. Single “When It Breaks” contains more gravity, emotion, and resolve in one line than most albums in full. PPJ’s very essence, making music for human connection, remains superhuman – a necessary outlet for Wert.
“I can’t tell a good joke and my brain has too many oddities to connect with people,” he admits. “Other than talking about teaching, music is where I can find the opportunity of bringing people together.”
Fri., Jan. 31, 8:30pm