Special to the Times
|Photo special to the Times|
Michael Williams and his electric guitar take center stage this Saturday at the 3rd Annual Blythe River Blues Festival.
BLYTHE, Calif. - The talent performing at the 3rdAnnual Blythe River Blues Festival just keeps getting better, and the appearance of the Michael Williams Band alone is enough to justify picking up a ticket or two and attending. Williams electric guitar is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan, a guitarist who he befriended as a younger man growing up in Austin, Texas.
The son of a famous Texas bluesman, Larry Williams, aka Junior Medlow Williams, who was the singer for the Cobras, a band that was a stepping stone for Stevie Ray Vaughan, Williams began to play the guitar professionally at age 12.
"I was kind of born and bred to play the blues," Williams said, describing his youth. "My dad was a Texas legend and I have the pedigree to try and pick up where he left off."
Williams was raised at a time when the Austin blues scene was thriving and in a place where some of the greatest blues musician were flocking. When his father passed away, Williams made the decision to move to Seattle, Washington to break out from his father's famous long shadow in the music world and make his own mark while trying to better understand the experiences of Jimi Hendrix, who grew up there.
"I left Texas to live in Seattle to derive inspiration from Jimi Hendrix," he said. "I got my real career start there on my own. - to see what I could do on my own."
Williams, 38, moved to Los Angeles seven years ago and it was there he recorded his latest CD, Red Fire, which was produced by the legendary Eddie Kramer, the engineer on albums for Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and others.
He toured the country with Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy and George Thorogood, where he said he honed his skills among some of the best. He said that over the past several years he was able to cull many endorsements from a lot of great companies. Currently, Williams is getting ready to go back into the studio and do another project in the coming months called "The Land of the Living."
For a guy who grew up around Stevie Ray and some of the great Texas guitarist and musicians, Williams has had many great experiences and has received advice and tips from some of the masters of the blues world.
"Probably the greatest highlight was to tour with George Thorogood," he said. "I've always been a blues player that was on the verge of playing rock and its just been like trying to swim upstream. One night I was getting ready to open for George and he came out on on-stage and, while he would always preach to me, that night he said 'if you ever want to get out of the blues, you have to rock your way out of it.'"
If you're expecting a great performance from the Michael Williams Band Saturday (May 24) at the Blythe River Blues Festival, you're not going to be disappointed.
"I plan on bringing power, energy and the purest form of uncut blues that I can muster," Williams said. "I would like to say that if the environment allows it, I'd like to stretch out musically a bit and cover all bases of the blues, from slide to everything."
In addition to Williams guitar and vocals, the band includes guitarist Stony Jamal, Stevie Nicks drummer Jimmy Paxson and Eric Gales' bassist, Orlando Jones.
The 3rd Annual Blythe River Blues Festival will be held on May 24 that Quechan Park and Marina in Blythe on the Colorado River. Tickets are $15 and available at the Blythe Chamber of Commerce, 760-922-8166 or online at blytheriverblues.com.
This year's headliner is Arthur Adams, a former band mate of B.B. King. Also on the bill will be the Kofi Baker Cream Experience, Kirk Fletcher and the Band, Chase Walker Band, former Blythe residents Joe Serrano and Bill Tuck, who will return from Phoenix, Arizona, and Blythe's South Main Street Blues Band.
Gates open at noon and the show begins at 2 pm. and runs past midnight. There will be camping at the park and hotel reservations can be made at the Best Value Inn, 760-922-5145.
Prior to the Blythe River Blues Festival, the Blythe VFW Post 2987 will be holding their 1st Annual Bike Rally fundraiser at the post headquarters, 148 South First Street in Blythe. There will be $3 beers served on Friday night, a $5 breakfast on Saturday morning from 8-10 a.m., followed by a bike show at 11 a.m. with a best bike contest ($150 prize), a best tattoo contest ($150 prize), and an arm wrestling contest ($300 prize). This is a fundraiser for the VFW and at noon or so, there will be a ride down to the river where the Blues Festival will be kicking off.