Bill Wesley moved to San Diego from Missouri in 1974. The then-teenaged Wesley created light shows for Blue Cheer and Vanilla Fudge, with projectors that he “modified so I could use foot switches to turn them on and off like a drum set. I still do light shows, but public indifference has killed off what I believe is the greatest visual art form in the history of the world.”
Since the Reader’s last contact with Wesley (January, 2009), a resident of Golden Hill, the 57-year-old musician and inventor has persisted in the quest to turn his electronic “array” instruments — the array mbira, array violin, and, “for rocking-out mayhem,” the array guitar — into must-haves.
Have orders from high-profile performers such as King Crimson and the Kronos Quartet meant an increase in orders from the website?
“[I get] four or five orders a month instead of one or two,” says Wesley. “Yet, 90 percent of them go to movers and shakers in the field of music — for expanding awareness, that’s better than 400 anonymous buyers.”
Wesley’s currently rehearsing the Array Orchestra for the TEDx Seaside Forum. Founded in 1984, TED (technology, entertainment, design) is “a nonprofit devoted to ‘ideas worth spreading.’” Per TED’s literature, Wesley is an example of “the most innovative thinkers and doers in the region” who will be appearing at TEDx.
Wesley’s ideal for the Array Orchestra would be ten trained musical arrayists: five melody array instruments, five harmony arrays, and ten visual projection systems.
“That was a wish list,” says Wesley. “In reality, I expect a maximum of four people and instruments. There will be an after-party — perhaps there the Orchestra will get more of a chance to open up.”
Along with original compositions, Wesley mentioned doing some covers.
“I’d like to do a million things...‘In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida’ or ‘The End’ or ‘Telstar.’ But, so far, just lining up the original songs is more than enough to fulfill, with all the invention and mbira-building and speaking and graphics.”
Bill Wesley and the Array Orchestra will appear Tuesday, May 10, at TEDx Americas Finest City, at Scripps Seaside Forum in La Jolla.