Brooks Williams - Guitarist Singer-Songwriter
Brooks Williams is the proverbial triple threat. He plays a fiery guitar, has a rich and silky voice, and writes hook-laden songs. He is one of the most commanding performers on the acoustic roots scene, walking the line between Blues and Americana, he is ranked one of the world’s Top 100 Acoustic Guitarists.
The San Antonio Light says that Williams is a “fret monster who has to be seen to be believed!” For 25 years he has been wowing audiences worldwide, every night delivering the deepest and most intense interpretations of everything from early blues to inventive covers to his own recent original compositions. Dirty Linen calls him one of “America’s musical treasures.”
In the time-honoured road-warrior tradition, Williams has honed his songs on stages from Dallas to London, Istanbul to Anchorage, Toronto to Dublin, Detroit to Glasgow, Nairobi to Belfast, New York to Sardinia. He has gigged with Taj Mahal, John Hammond, Eddi Reader, Paul Jones, Billy Bragg, Little Feat, Maria Muldaur, Shawn Colvin, Boo Hewerdine and Leo Kottke, to name but a few.
Recent appearances include Celtic Connections, Mo’ Fest, Glastonbury, Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Ely Folk Festival, Birmingham Jazz and Blues Fest, Maverick Festival, Ards Guitar Festival, Kerrville Festival, Crawley Blues Festival, Marlborough Jazz Festival and Moab Folk Festival. All in all, thousands of gigs over thousands of miles!
Born in Statesboro Georgia USA – from the land of blues legend Blind Willie McTell – Williams’ southern roots took hold of his music when he moved to Boston Massachusetts USA in his late teens. It was there, in the little clubs and bars of New York and New England, that he developed his sound, playing 5-6 nights a week. The mid-week gigs were in raucous bars (think Blues Brothers and chicken wire and you’re nearly there!) with Williams typically playing for four hours without stopping. The weekend gigs were in quiet coffeehouses (the same ones that year’s earlier featured the likes of a Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt, Chris Smither, Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman) where audiences hung on every riff and lyric. Williams learned his trade between these two extremes.
No stranger to the studio, Brooks Williams has, at last count, an amazing 19 CDs to his name, including Baby O! (2010), State Of The Union (2012), The Time I Spend With You (2008), and Knife Edge (1996). He has been played on the BBC in the UK, RTE in Ireland, CBC in Canada and NPR in the USA and has charted on the FOLKDJ stations. He can also be heard on Satellite and Internet radio throughout the world.
Over the years Williams has recorded for labels as diverse as Signature Sounds, Green Linnet, Reveal and Solid Air Records, as well as his own Red Guitar Blue Music. He’s learned the studio trade first-hand working with roots music producers like Colin Linden (Blackie And The Rodeo Kings, Bruce Cockburn) in Toronto and Phil Madeira (Buddy and Julie Miller, Emmylou Harris) in Nashville. Lauded by the likes of Guitar Player, Blues In Britain, Acoustic, Rock N Reel, Maverick, fRoots calls Williams’ “Americana at its finest!”
In recent years Brooks Williams has made his home in Cambridge UK and has dedicated a portion of each year to leading workshops on blues and Americana guitar, as well as working on special projects focused on the folk arts. He is a visiting lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, working with aspiring musicians in the popular music programme. In 2012 Williams was awarded an Arts Award by the South Cambridgeshire District Council for his involvement in the local arts scene. Also in 2012, Williams contributed his voice and guitar to BBC Radio 2’s Radio Ballads, a six-week broadcast celebrating the London 2012 Olympics.
State of the Union
State of the Union is Williams’ collaboration with English songwriting legend Boo Hewerdine. The two wrote and recorded a CD released on Reveal Records in April 2012. The initial 30-date tour attracted fans of smart songwriting and classy guitar and has led to another 30-city tour as well as a tour of Australia.
Voted one of the Top 100 Artists by WUMB-Radio Boston, Brooks Williams is a musician of staggering depth and breath, with an easy-going vocal delivery, groove-laden songs, and monstrous guitar chops, americanaUK says: “It goes without saying that he is an absolute master with a six string but Williams’ talent doesn’t end there. He is personable and funny and easy to relate to when he shares anecdotes in between songs, which are themselves catchy and upbeat. On top of it all he has a beautiful voice that you just melt into. Brooks Williams is impossible not to like."
Blues Matters proffers this about Brooks Williams “…classy, tasteful, bright and hugely enjoyable!”
© Red Guitar Blue Music 2012
"What a joy this man is to watch. It goes without saying that he is an absolute master with a six string but Williams’ talent doesn’t end there. He is personable and funny and easy to relate to when he shares anecdotes in between songs, which are themselves catchy and upbeat. On top of it all he has a beautiful voice that you just melt into. Brooks Williams is impossible not to like." (americanaUK)
“A fret monster who has to be seen to be believed!” (San Antonio Light)
"Williams beckons the most left-footed of us onto the dance floor." (Northern Sky)
“A slice of Americana at its finest!” (fRoots)
“How soulful a solo guitarist can be when he has talent, taste and astonishing technique.” (Blues Revue)
“A consummate artist, Williams ranks among America's musical treasures.” (Dirty Linen)
"Williams is a precise, articulate, melodically interesting guitarist and an effectively intimate, slightly world-weary sounding singer." (Rock N Reel)
"Williams' natural penchant for story-telling is on full display - as is his uncanny ability to punctuate his cinematic vocal phrases with a guitar lick or rhythm that embellishes every lyric." (Minor 7th)
“Straddling the roots music boundaries of blues, folk and classic Americana, the man himself is a superb acoustic guitar fingerpicker and slide player, with a most appealing voice…Definitely one of the best things I have heard this year” (Blues In The Northwest)
“This ever-compelling exponent of bluesy Americana - and ever-masterly guitarist - delivers a confident and deeply satisfying new set that’s replete with consummate and ever-tasteful musicianship: everything you’d expect from him, and more! Brooks has excelled himself here, I believe; and all told, I’m sure thinking that Baby O! may well come to be regarded as Brooks’ finest collection to date. Go see him live.” (NetRhythms)
“His slide guitar solo instrumental version of ‘Amazing Grace’ just about blew my mind, and it will yours once you have heard it. Wonderful stuff!” (Flying Shoes)
“Brooks Williams is able to take traditional material and put his own stamp on it without making it unrecognizable…we called him back for three encores. It was a superb performance!” (Blues In Britain)
“He possesses a melodic virtuosity on the guitar that runs like liquid from his fingers...” (The Irish News)
“Harmonically sophisticated and breathtakingly beautiful…” (Guitar Player)
“Dazzling guitar work!” (Acoustic Guitar)
“Deft, tasteful guitar chops.” (Rolling Stone)