"If Williams' guitar picking gets any sharper, we'll have to invent new adjectives," wrote the Boston Globe. Well, they better start inventing because Williams' music, lyrics, singing, and picking get sharper with every recording. And never have they been more sharp or more striking than on his latest CD, "Nectar" (Signature Sounds). Produced by Phil Madeira and recorded in Nashville, "Nectar" is Brooks' most fully realized work to date. Featuring some of Nashville's finest roots musicians, Williams' buttery voice and rockin' guitar playing are wrapped around ten heart-stopping songs.
Born in Statesboro, Georgia, Brooks took up the guitar at age 10 (he had been playing violin since the age of 3) and had a hunger for music that was never satisfied. He crept into his older brother's rooms, when they were away, and secretly listened to their albums: Hendrix, Tuna, Yes, Clapton and Morrison, to name a few. Brooks listened with all the naivete of youth and taught himself to play the overdubbed parts on a single guitar. You're not supposed to be able to do that, but Brooks did. Still does. Audiences hear it: Brooks with one guitar comping chords, walking bass lines and chiming in lead riffs. One instrument. One player.
Critics and writers hail Brooks "an acoustic guitar god'" and a "fret monster," saying his music is "electrifying," "dazzling," and "breathtaking," and that he sings like the "Angel of Soul." With millions of touring miles and thirteen albums to his credit, the fans have seen and heard it for themselves. Brooks has a warm, affable stage presence. His voice, one of the most purely pleasing in the business, can caress, or it can have muscle. His guitar reinvents works by the likes of Joseph Spence, John Martyn, Buddy Miller, T-Bone Burnett, Aztec Camera, Sam Phillips, The Blue Nile, and Memphis Slim. His huge and growing catalog of original songs is "exquisite," says MOJO, a UK magazine. The whole package rides in on rich, melodic hooks and the heartbeat of compelling rhythm. It's hard to sit still in a Brooks Williams concert!
There are other sides to Brooks' work as a musician. He tours, as time allows, in a critically acclaimed duo with Rani Arbo. His slide and acoustic guitars shimmer and pulse between news segments on NPR, PBS-TV, or the BBC. He has produced CDs by Salamander Crossing, Rollyn Zoubek, and Spinoza, to name a few. Image, a fine arts magazine, published Brooks' essay about life as a songwriter and touring musician. A respected teacher, you can find him conducting sold-out workshops on fingerstyle guitar at the Club Passim School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or songwriting workshops at the University of Virginia or the New England Young Writer's Conference. Recently his local PBS-TV affiliate, WGBY, filmed Brooks with his trio for the live concert program, Caught in the Act.
Both radio and the press have been talking about Brooks for nearly 16 years. He's charted on AAA and Americana radio nationwide, and he's been written about in Acoustic Guitar, Hot Press, Guitar Player, Performing Songwriter, Folk Roots, MOJO, Dirty Linen, Guitar World, Blues Review, Paste and more. He received seven Boston Music Award nominations and won the WUMB New Artist Album of the Year. Multiple appearances on radio and newspaper Top Ten lists have also chronicled Brooks' continued evolution as a guitarist and songwriter.
Brooks has shared the stage with a who's who of recording artists', including Shawn Colvin, Leo Kottke, Taj Mahal, Billy Bragg, Mark O'Connor and Chris Smither, to name a few. He's played at major festivals like Newport and Winnipeg and in clubs like The Birchmere and The Iron Horse Music Hall. His tour itinerary spans the US, Canada, England, and Ireland.
Whether live in concert, where rich new music continues to emerge, or in recordings (he's recorded over thirteen albums) where his fiery flatpicking, power chords, single note leads, and simmering slide can be consumed over and over, fans understand why Dirty Linen says, "A consummate artist, Williams ranks among America's musical treasures."