Wes Cunningham turns his focus from performing to writing


Waco singer-songwriter Wes Cunningham, who closes a benefit concert Sunday night at downtown Waco’s Metro Restaurant & Bar, admits he’s shifted away a little from public performances to focus on writing and recording.

He finds himself waiting on public reaction, however, to his music and performance in Brandon Dickerson’s made-in-Waco (mostly) film “Sironia.”

That independent film follows a musician who steps back from the big city, music industry rat race of Los Angeles for a lower profile but more meaningful life in a smaller Texas city. It’s modeled after Cunningham’s own experience in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the fictitious city of Sironia standing in for Waco.

Cunningham, 39, said he’s focusing more on commercial music these days to pay the bills, with his work being used by Yahoo and, possibly, Subway. He’s stepped back from a more hectic life as a touring musician to one more centered on crafting music and raising young sons Truman, Marco and Conrad with his wife Emilie.

“I’m not really about performing much, but I’m still in love with music, creating it and recording it,” he said. Cunningham works frequently with Waco recording engineer Tim Jenkins and his Silver Shoes Studio. He sells his most current digital albums “When We Were Young” and “Farewell Party” online at http://wescunningham.bandcamp.com.

“I’ve written a lot about Waco and the people I’ve met here,” he said. “A lot of it are small things my kids teach me, like it’s fun to be silly and not take yourself seriously.”

Sunday’s performance, with Waco musician Dick Gimble, has Cunningham joining the Gordon Collier Band and the Horton Jazz Duo to raise money to defray medical costs for bone marrow recipient Alan Caruthers.

During “Sironia’s” filming in Waco and Los Angeles in the spring and summer of 2010, the musician found some of his stage skills transferred to acting. “You have to keep your focus on what you’re doing and be in the moment,” he said. “As they told me, ‘Just don’t act and you’ll be fine.’ ”

Returning to L.A. to film scenes reminded Cunningham of the clamoring culture he had left about a decade ago. “It’s jarring. You had to clear it out of your head a little bit,” he said. “It was like going back to high school in a sense, where the whole culture is sort of ‘check me out.’ ”