The Hobo Ringmaster

Gypsy acts are known for their rowdiness; their raw, cigarette-smoky, patched-clothing, dented-brass impurities. Above all, gypsy acts are known for their stage presence. Seattle-born folker Jason Webley is no different.

While most sources would list Webley as “alt-folk” or “experimental” — and both terms apply — the tenets of gypsy-folk are undeniable in his music. The scratchy, warbling vocals, the rushed, lumpy, almost second-language quality of his lyrics and the way he gets a crowd howling (often with laughter) all reek of that same bizarre mojo that made Eugene Hütz and Gogol Bordello famous.

However, there’s a softer side to Webley that sees him crooning his heart out, smiling gently and picking with his fingers. His songs range from the chandelier-swing we just discussed, all the way down to the silvery, moonstruck folk of Kurt Vile and Chad VanGaalen. Of course it’s always acoustic, but it’s this duality that makes Webley an interesting man to follow. He’s bold, scruffy, unique and addictive. The first time you hear him your ears might cry out in pain, but that’s just the earworms crawling into place.

Staying true to his scrappy aesthetic, Webley hosts an album and book release for his latest project Margaret, “a combination of music and story rescued from the bottom of a garbage bin,” at WOW Hall.

Jason Webley plays with Chicken John Rinaldi & Friends 9 pm Friday, Dec. 19, at WOW Hall; $12 adv., $15 door, $20 reserved. All ages.