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Tim Williams brings blues to the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod

Tim Williams

Tim Williams will perform at the Empress Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27.

International award-winning Tim Williams brings his old-style blues to the Empress Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 27.
Williams’ concert at 7:30 p.m. is the first installment in the 2014-’15 Centre Stage Series arranged by the Empress Theatre Society.
Williams has a tried and true formula that he plans to follow at the Empress.
“My show is always a mix of the old-time, pre-war blues stuff that I’m known for doing,” Williams said. “I write originals that fit within that style as well.”
Williams will play finger-style guitar, slide guitar and mandolin during his concert, and sometimes brings a Hawaiian guitar.
The songs are accompanied by some story-telling, and Williams is looking forward to the intimate confines of the Empress Theatre to share some stories.
“It’s easier in a nice room like the Empress to do that,” Williams said. “I always try and put the songs in context for people who didn’t grow up in love with that music like I did.”
Williams learned guitar from some old-time country players, and saw people such as Jimmy Rushing with the Count Basie Band, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry singing on TV. Growing up in L.A. Williams was exposed to Texas bluesmen who influenced his musical taste.
Williams is pleased to find people interested and devoted to pre-war blues music.
“There is an underground,” Williams said. “Old school blues and the blues in general has a very loyal following.”
Williams compares fans of blues music to those who embrace country music.
“It’s not a music that a lot of people outgrow. Once they find it, they kind of stay with it.”
Williams style of music gets airplay on CBC, CKUA and National Public Radio in the U.S.
Williams is coming off a busy summer schedule that followed winning the International Blues Challenge. That schedule included playing more in the U.S. than he has since he left there 40 years ago.
“I was amazed,” Williams said. “I went to places I haven’t been before and I was amazed at the response and the CD sales.”
“I find it very refreshing that there’s always young kids showing up for this music who discovered it somewhere,” Williams said. “Whether they listened to their mother’s Eric Clapton album and traced it back from there, or they heard a Jack White record and worked their way back from their to the older stuff. There’s always this young blood showing up eager to learn about it.”
Williams knows that given his skill on the guitar there could be an easier and more mainstream way to make a living in the music business but he stays true to the blues.
“I could probably get a gig as somebody’s guitar player and not worry about any of the rest of it for as long as I want to do it,” Williams said. “I love this music and I’ve always been able to do it reasonably well since I was quite young.”
Williams works as a composer and sound designer for theatre company and uses pre-war blues and ragtime music for a number of plays.
Williams takes pride in making the music accessible to the public, whether it’s to a general audience at a folk festival, or for a discerning blues crowd.
Williams, who teaches guitar at places such as the Hornby Blues Week, considers keeping that old-style blues alive as a personal responsibility.
“I would hate to see it just go away.”
Williams is working on a new CD that he hopes to have out as early as Christmas and will play some of his new songs along with old favourites.
“I’ve been road testing
a few and I’ll probably
play a few of those,” Williams said.

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