Boumel House Concerts – 02/18/12
So, I’m sitting at Arlene Boumels house concert this past Saturday and who did I see? None other than Blind Boy Fuller (1907-1941) sitting next to me. And right next to him was Mississippi John Hurt (1893-1996). And two rows over was Blind Willy McTell (1898-1959) talking to Joseph Spence (1910-1984) and Blind Willy Johnson (1897-1945). But as if that weren’t enough, out of the corner of my eye I caught Muddy Waters (1913-1983) walk past with Duke Ellington (1899-1974) and Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) in tow. Now I could clearly see that something unusual was going on, but then I remembered that Arlene’s house concerts are alcohol free. So, I squeezed my eyes shut tight and shook my head. Then when I reopened them again I realized that Brooks Williams (www.brookswilliams.com) was playing. And when Brooks plays, it’s like having the greatest blues performers of all time keeping you company.
You see, Brooks Williams has this voice that is at once candy-apple sweet and then down-home sultry. And his guitar playing, whether slide, finger strumming or crossed-handed is phenomenal. Given a near encyclopedic knowledge of the blues, he can dazzle you with original, cover and traditional songs, and then sprinkle historically tantalizing narrations between each one. It’s kinda as if the Smithsonian Folkways (www.folkways.si.edu) and the Encyclopedia Britannica (www.britannica.com) had a love child and it was Brooks Williams.
Now you’re probably all wondering why I chose Britannica and not Wikipedia. Well, that was just a little tip of the hat to the fact that Brooks now patriates England. A renowned world traveler, he has played around the globe, including his new and old homelands, Ireland, Italy, Tanzania, Turkey, and Canada to name just a few. But far and wide as he may go, Brooks is firmly rooted in the blues.
Playing a mixture of traditionals, blues and originals, Brooks Williams brought a smorgasbord of listening pleasure to last night’s audience. Starting off with his own song Teach Me How To Do That Thing You Do, the evening’s set list included Weeping Willow Blues (Blind Boy Fuller), Statesboro Blues (Blind Willy McTell), Shady Grove (traditional), Sugar Sweet (Muddy Waters), Mercury Blues (K. C. Douglas and Robert Geddins), I Got It Bad (Duke Ellington), Louis Collins (Mississippi John Hurt), and even a blues saturated instrumental version of Amazing Grace. These were all interwoven with other originals by Brooks, including Darkness from his State Of The Union CD, Frank Delandry from his Baby O! CD, and Walk You Off My Mind from his Live Blues EP CD. But my favorite of Brooks’ was Three Little Words, a song so sincere and heartfelt that it never had to say I love you.
I loved listening to Brooks last night, and if you missed it, be sure to see him the next time he’s in town. Better yet, save up and hire him to do a private performance at your home. But be sure to have plenty of extra seats around when you do. You’re gonna have lots of company.