What a pleasure it is to bring our readers an interview with one of the most talented and interesting singer songwriters we've had the good fortune to meet. It's an absolute shock when you meet someone this talented who's not famous, it only happens now and then. But in folk circles, Jack has become legendary, and the legend is growing steadily. The reason for that is that he's out playing, all the time. And the man is playing his ass off, every night. Even if he's at home, I can guarantee you he's playing his ass off. His love of playing and performing seems to be unquenchable. I have a huge respect for people like that. He's one of the few friends I have that I don't have to ask what they're doing when I call--I know perfectly well what they're doing, they're playing their guitar, man. Either that or they're driving, to the next place they can play their guitar.
I've been to the Kerrville Folk Festival now a few times, and one of my favorite things there is that I get to hear Jack Williams play his guitar around the campfires. Along with having a truckload of his own beautiful songs and a classic rough-hewn baritone, he can play along on the songs of others with amazing feel and soul far beyond mere chops. And he'd just as soon listen to your song and play along, if you like, as play you one of his own. He is a music man, and he's all about a good song. When a bunch of people who really aren't that good want to stick their CD in your hand or jump in your game to play it for you, that kind of personal and musical awareness speaks volumes.
Jack's been playing guitar in bands, backing people up, and playing his own songs, since 1958. I first started hearing some of his great stories when Annie and I visited him and his lovely partner Judy on the river in Kerrville. I knew I had to get some of his personality on tape, and print it. But that's the thing about Jack, see. He's so interested and interesting, you are liable to set aside all the questions you had prepared (which I did) and simply jam on whatever topic came up in the course of conversing (which we did). On this particular day we got off on the topic of house concerts, something near and dear to Jack's heart, and with which he has considerable experience.
Jack is also a very opinionated person. In his case, I mean opinionated in the way I believe Thomas Jefferson was opinionated. Strong, clear convictions on a wide variety of topics. Considered opinions. This conversation mostly focuses on a couple of topics, but there's a lot more to learn about this important and crucial American folk artist. To hear him is to know him best, so be absolutely sure to check out clips of his previously reviewed CDs Eternity & Main and Winterline (on Listen 11), as well as a selection from his brand new release Walkin' Dreams (on Listen13). And there's a second new CD coming out now (though it wasn't quite available in time for this issue), a live album called Live and In Good Company. Check back for a review of it in a later issue or look for it at the artist's website; while you're there, dont miss his Bio for another tip of the iceberg.
proud to count him among my friends, welcome to our conversation with
the inimitable Jack Williams.