Brooks Williams | Blues and Ballads

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Blues: Acoustic Blues Blues: Folk-Blues Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Blues and Ballads

by Brooks Williams

Guitar legend Brooks Williams pays homage to his roots on this romp through blues and folk classics. This stripped-down, rockin' recordiing features acoustic guitar, National resonator slide guitar, standup bass, and vocals. A must-have classic.
Genre: Blues: Acoustic Blues
Release Date: 

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1. Weepin’ Willow Blues
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3:47 $0.99
2. In The Evening
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4:23 $0.99
3. Shady Grove
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3:40 $0.99
4. All Blues
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3:54 $0.99
5. Don’t Get Around Much Any More
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2:49 $0.99
6. Love In Vain
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4:10 $0.99
7. Ten Penny Bit
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4:06 $0.99
8. Honey Babe
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3:21 $0.99
9. Watch The Stars
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4:33 $0.99
10. Peacemaker's Hornpipe
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3:13 $0.99
11. One Day I Walk
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3:39 $0.99
12. Take My Hand Precious Lord
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13. Trouble In Mind
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
BROOKS WILLIAMS: BIOGRAPHY

Brooks Williams is a stunning guitarist who's blues-soaked, rhythmic, and soulful music defies categorization. After fifteen solo recordings and nearly two decades of touring the world, he is one of the most well-respected players on the circuit. His concerts are legendary: from coast-to-coast, country-to-country, one man, one guitar, rollin’ and tumblin’ like nobody’s business.

His musical vision spans continents and genres—blues, jazz, slide, fingerstyle—where funky chords, walking bass lines, and fiery riffs abound. Citing the influence of players as diverse as John Fahey, Ry Cooder, John Renbourne, Eric Clapton, and Joseph Spence, Dirty Linen magazine calls Brooks Williams one of "America's musical treasures." "At the root of every riff is the blues, it informs everything I play, write, and arrange,” says Williams.

Never has this been more apparent than on Williams’ latest recording, Blues And Ballads, which is a collection of country blues and traditional roots music that features Williams on acoustic, bottleneck slide and resonator guitars, mandolin, and vocals, and John Daniel, from the band Northern Lights, on acoustic bass. Among the songs featured on Blues And Ballads are classic blues standards from Big Bill Broonzy, Lightning Hopkins, Robert Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, and Snooks Eaglin, a blues-jazz version of Ellington's Don’t Get Around Much Any More, and a few folk classics like Shady Grove and Watch The Stars. Williams says: "This is a recording I've wanted to make for a very long time. With it I am paying homage to inspiringly great musicians and a handful of songs that have had a huge impact on me as a player and a performer.”

Brooks Williams is from Statesboro, Georgia—the town made famous by Blind Willie McTell in his song Statesboro Blues—but musically came into his own in Boston, Massachusetts. While nearly everyone else was peddling vinyl and cassettes, Williams was one of the first independent artists to release a recording on compact disc. His 1990 direct-to-digital showcase of solo guitar and voice, North From Statesboro, turned heads.

That was just the tip of the iceberg, though. Subsequent albums, each different and daring in some way, received constant airplay on public and college radio and garnered him praise from the likes of All Things Considered, the BBC, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Acoustic Guitar, Performing Songwriter, and Guitar Player, including the ground-breaking Back To Mercy (1992), the best-selling Knife Edge (1996), the instrumental gem Little Lion (2000), and the solo guitar extravaganza Guitar Player (2005). He has, to date, released fifteen CDs, on labels like Green Linnet, Signature Sounds, and Solid Air.

Then there were the tours. Hundreds and hundreds of them: zig-zagging back and forth across the United States and Canada, plus regular trips overseas to England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Brooks Williams is simply one of the most engaging performers on the scene today. Says Williams: "My favorite hours of the day are when I get to play guitar on-stage." Audiences can tell, his enthusiasm is obvious.

Over the years the breadth of Williams’ musical vision has broadened and deepened beyond solo performing and recording to include many facets:

One is in his collaborations with other musicians. For example, his critically acclaimed duo with violinist and singer Rani Arbo (which has fans lining up around the block to experience their eclectic take on swing, jazz, and traditional music), his Guitar Summit concerts of Blues and American Songbook explorations with fellow-guitarist Paul Asbell, or the Trans-Atlantic Song-swap concerts with English guitarist and songwriter Steve Tilston.

Another is as a respected educator at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (where he was nominated for a Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005), the Community Music School of Springfield, and Artspace of Greenfield (both in Massachusetts). In addition, he leads guitar workshops at the Newport Guitar Festival, The Swannanoa Gathering, Summer Acoustic Music Week, the Club Passim School of Music, the Connecticut Classical Guitar Society, the New England Young Writer's Conference at Middlebury College, and the University of Virginia, to name but a few. Williams is devoted to not only preserving the art of the acoustic guitar but to educating a future generation of players.

Yet another is on NPR, PBS-TV, documentary films, and various recordings by other artists where his instantly recognizable slide and acoustic guitars shimmer.

Lastly, one of his essays (about temporarily losing his beloved red guitar while on tour in Ireland) has been published in the book Between The Strings: The Secret Lives of Guitars, which also includes essays by B.B. King, Laurence Juber, Tuck Andress, Christopher Parkening, Doc Watson, and George Benson, among others.

Brooks Williams' music rocks like the blues, swings like jazz, and, as the Boston Globe describes, has “a captivating lyricism” and “a clear melodicism.” Audiences routinely react to his concerts by asking: “Where’d they hide the second guitarist?” Such is the mind-boggling artistry of this wonderful performer: no one does it like Brooks Williams! With millions of touring miles—and counting—under his belt, and fifteen albums—and counting—to his credit, Williams' exciting musical journey continues!


Reviews


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Gregory Callahan

The Complete Package
I had heard a lot of great things about Brooks Williams and was certainly prepared to like him before actually seeing him in concert. But jaded music fan that I am, I never expected to quite so blown away as I was this past Saturday when I finally did get to see him perform live in a "house concert" setting. "Live," Brooks is an engaging, personable performer as well as being a great instrumentalist. Everything I had heard suggested that he was a top flight contemporary acoustic guitarist, but he is a fine--if understated--singer with great stage presence. In other words, pretty much the complete package. This CD, Brooks Williams 13th, captures Brooks at his varied best. The title may suggest a specialized "project albums" but upon listening to the recording, it becomes readily apparent that you need to interpret those terms ("blues" and "ballads") in the broadest possible sense. Well, what else can you say about an album whose tracks were composed by artists as diverse as Miles Davis, Bruce Cockburn, Blind Boy Fuller and Duke Ellington? Brooks finds the common thread in all these varied compositions, throws in a number of traditional tunes and emerges with an album that is as seamless as it is diverse. Brooks Williams has gotten me to fall in love with guitar music again. Great stuff.

Doug

Classic blues feeling, like David Bromberg, but wider appeal
This CD includes well-done covers of some great blues songs as well as some of Brooks' own material. If you want to know who he is, this is only one piece of the puzzle. Seeing him live, especially in an intimate home concert will humble you if you are a guitar player! His stories, songs, and style are integrated and come through this CD very well. Looking forward to getting another!

Jerry Yates

It makes me embarrassed to call myself a guitar player.
This Cd was recorded by a true artist! Mr. Williams has dusted and polished each song, and then with his masterful, guitar artistry, made each one brand new. Every person who has ever picked up a guitar, including the big-time pros, should be required to listen to this CD. It is a mind boggling set of Blues and Ballads.