Interview: Brooks Williams

Brooks Williams is an elegant man. He has the air of being learned, of art from every pore – he’s charming and is the processor of a killer smile.  He’s also the owner of some serious guitar porn, and one hell of a player.  An American now residing in East Anglia, his last album, ‘My Turn Now’ melds James Taylor with Paul Simon and a resonator guitar. It’s a fine record. The man is old school cool. Like a classic V8, it’s all under the hood, where it matters.  AUK caught him after he was the highlight of Maverick festival.

You just come off a long tour, it gets brutal being out so long?
The road is what making music is all about. It’s where it all gets real. There’s no two-ways about it, I’m a road dog. The down side is I miss my family. So when I get home it is a good thing. We just chill out a do normal things. We have crazy Saturday nights and rainy, wet Wednesdays just like everyone else. But batteries get re-charged and new plans get hatched!

You call the UK home now, how long you been here?
I’ve lived in the UK full-time for seven years.

How do find that?
I love living here. Obviously, it’s where my new family is from, so that’s the main thing. But I’ve also found a home and friends here like I’ve not experienced before.

How’ve they taken to you in rural East Anglia?
East Anglia is cool. It’s not unlike where I’m from, which is Georgia, in the Deep South of the USA. The part of Georgia I come from is the Southeast – that’s farm country. It’s ‘country’ country, and the home of the Piedmont blues. East Anglia has a lot of that vibe too. And it’s VERY fitting that Maverick Festival is in this part of the country!

You’re a cool guy, a real elegant dresser, got any tips?
Why thank you very much! It all starts with the boots, and I wear Justin’s. Handmade in Texas. Anything else you add to that will look great!

You’re always pretty chilled too, what’s the key?
Don’t sweat the small stuff – at least I try not to! – and sometimes it works.

There was a lot of very envious guys looking at your guitars at Maverick, are you a collector or are they just tools to you?
Guitars are just tools. They are a means to an end. That being said, over the years I’ve found a few that are especially cool. I’ve had my National resonator for about 20 years. My friend, jazz guitarist, Paul Asbell found that for me on eBay. This year I found a Guild that is the exact make, model and year of the one I played when I was ten years old.

You’ve told me previously that this is your best record, why do think that is?
I really like “My Turn Now.” A lot of things came together for me on that record. I like how the songs and the band all hang together. It’s what Americana sounds like in my head. I’m very proud of it.

Up next you’re writing with Boo Hewardine, when might we hear that?
Boo and I have a duo called State of the Union. We made a couple records and toured a few years ago. We’re embarking on our first tour in a couple years. This one will be for six weeks, beginning in early September. We’re making a record that will only be available exclusively at the gigs. So it will launch at our first gig on September 1st. It’s called “Saltwell Sessions.”

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show – The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session – playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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