Sun 26th February, 20178:00 pm - 10:30 pm (Doors: 7:30pm)
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Brooks Williams is a man on a mission. He not only tours like a hellhound’s on his trail, but creates a super-charged music that is electrifying and fighting fit. His influences fly so fast and furious they blur, yet his sound… Well, no one does it like Brooks Williams. He stands on tradition but he doesn’t stand still.
And he has just created the best album of his twenty-eight year career.
“My Turn Now,” recorded in both England and America, is a rocking collection of eleven songs, seven original and four covers, brought to life by a muscular trio of Brooks Williams on resonator guitar and lead vocals, Richard Gates or A. Murray Kahn on electric bass, and co-producer Chris Pepper on the drums. Also featured is very special guest Sally Barker on backing vocals. Like drinking whiskey from a honey jar, you get both the sweet and the bite.
At the centre of “My Turn Now” is Williams’ latest batch of songs. His fans have been buzzing about them since he first debuted them at gigs over a year ago. Words like ‘timeless,’ ‘astutely observed,’ ‘archetypal’ just about cover it. But at its core it is all about contrast.
There’s “Joker’s Wild,” with its hard-hitting lyrics and J.J. Cale groove. There’s “Rosalyn,” with its buoyant Americana chords and doomed love affair (only the singer hasn’t figured that out yet!). There’s “My Turn Now,” a full-on Johnny Winter-fueled blues and a motorcycle racer who’s fed up with losing. There’s “Nine Days’ Wonder,” with jaunty Ry Cooder-esque slide guitar and a cynical lyric about short-lived sensations.
And there’s “Year Began,” one of Williams’ most compelling songs to date, about the fateful jump of Evil Knievel over the fountains of Cesar’s Palace on New Years’ Eve in 1967. And if that weren’t enough, who would think Mose Allison’s caustic “Your Mind Is On Vacation” could make such a good rocker? It’s all there but the howling feedback.
“My Turn Now” is a perfect storm. It’s a collision of roots and evolution. Brooks Williams, born in Statesboro, Georgia (USA), springing from the red Georgia clay, then resettling in England in 2010, where he spends half the year touring Europe and the UK and the other half in the USA. How then does he then create his most “American” sounding album to date? “I don’t get that,” says Williams. “How ironic that I move away from the source of American roots & blues music and end of digging into those roots more and more.” Sometimes you gotta move to know where you’re from.
Williams tours relentlessly. He is on a quest to find the best way to communicate songs to an audience. According to Williams, “I’ve played such a huge variety of gigs over the past few years, and not always to audiences who speak English, and I’ve toured with a band for the first time in my career as well. If the songs don’t speak for themselves in those contexts, you might as well go home.” Recent appearances include Celtic Connections (Scotland), Meneer Frits (Netherlands), Cambridge Folk Festival (England), Falcon Ridge Festival (USA), Cathedral Quarter Festival (N. Ireland), and Winnipeg Folk Festival (Canada). All in all, thousands of gigs over thousands of miles!
What else can we say about Brooks Williams?
He’s a great singer. In 2013 he was nominated best male vocalist by the UK’s foremost roots-music mavens, Spiral Earth. AmericanaUK says, “he has a beautiful voice that you just melt into.”
He’s one helluva good guitar player and is ranked in the “Top 100 Acoustic Guitarists.” The San Antonio Light says that Williams is a “fret monster who has to be seen to be believed!” Over the years he’s picked alongside Taj Mahal, John Hammond, Paul Jones, Chris Smither, Little Feat, Maria Muldaur, Shawn Colvin and Leo Kottke, to name but a few.
With twenty-two albums to his name, Williams’ music has featured on the BBC (UK), RTE (Ireland), CBC (Canada) and NPR (USA) and has charted on the FOLKDJ stations. He can also be heard on Satellite and Internet radio throughout the world. WUMB-FM radio in Boston (USA) voted him one of their “Top 100 Artists.” Lauded by the likes of “Guitar Player,” “Blues Matters,” “Acoustic,” “Maverick,” “fRoots” calls Williams’ “Americana at its finest!”
“A typically classy mix of blues, raggy Americana and healthy new originals, impeccably played and sung as ever. Self-recommending and absolutely beyond criticism!” (fRoots)
“On top of it all he has a beautiful voice that you just melt into. Brooks Williams is impossible not to like.” (americanaUK)
“How soulful a solo guitarist can be when he has talent, taste and astonishing technique.” (Blues Revue)
“We called him back for three encores!” (Blues In Britain)
“One of America’s musical treasures.” (Dirty Linen)
“Melodic virtuosity on the guitar that runs like liquid from his fingers.” (The Irish News)
“Dazzling guitar work!” (Acoustic Guitar)
“Deft, tasteful guitar chops.” (Rolling Stone)
“A fret monster who has to be seen to be believed!” (San Antonio Light)
“A lovely player, a lovely singer, and a great writer. The real thing.” (Martin Simpson)
“Pan-Americana Roots ‘n Blues!” (Net Rhythms)
Keith started playing harmonica in the sixties inspired by the Stones Little Red Rooster.
He went to college in Cheltenham and got to hear people like Sonny Terry, Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson and realised that that was what he really wanted to do. After gigging around France in 1969, Keith moved to Bristol and joined the Village Thing roster as one half of jug band/blues duo Strange Fruit. Later on he spent thirty years working for the BBC as a journalist and presenter, but still playing music all the while.
He has recorded sessions with all sorts of people as well as various TV soundtracks for BBC 1 and 2 & Channel 4. He’s played with all sorts of musicians including DR John, John Martyn, Andy Sheppard and Mike Silver. More recently, he played on a number of tracks on Brooks Williams’ ‘Baby O!’ album and spent 3 years touring with Steve Tilston as one third of ST Trio. Love playing with Brooks because it feels so natural but always exciting!.