Jason “Lefty” Williams talks with TBB

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When not touring the SE with the Lefty Williams Band or Revival: An Allman Brothers Experience, he hosts a Monday night jam at Bella’s Pizzeria in Smyrna and it attracts players from every genre. He keeps it interesting with a different house band weekly and throws in some Theme nights like Iron Maiden, The Who, and The Beatles. Whether a Player or Listener, Monday’s at Bella’s is a Wonderful Experience!!


3599 Atlanta Road Smyrna


Photos by Tom Kettles

Bio: A skilled guitarist with over two decades of experience, Lefty Williams holds song craft and musicianship at a premium. By emphasizing each equally on his ironically titled sophomore album Snake Oil, he engages and enlightens the listener. In turn, we fall for Williams’ powerful guitar licks and candid songs, often long before the origin of his nickname—he was born without a right hand—is clear. And by then, it’s just another dimension to his talent.

“I definitely don’t wanna shy away from my arm,” says the Atlanta born-and-bred songwriter/musician, who’s been playing guitar since age 4. He started out strumming with the end of his “nubb,” and fashioned his first prosthetic pick at 6. “I was just using the skin on my arm—the same way a finger style player would use his thumb. Then I wanted to play faster.” On his grandfather’s hunch, Lefty approached his prosthetician who devised a sock-like leather wrap. “It didn’t work at all,” he laughs, saying he finally “tore apart my prosthetic arm,” using the strap and part of the harness to fashion something that worked.

Henceforth a self-taught musician, Lefty refined his skills by listening. “After my dad taught me basic chords, he showed me how to figure it out on my own. I remember we were listening to the guitar solo part of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and my dad pointing out all the guitar parts that were going on in the background and saying, ‘That’s the kinda stuff you gotta listen for. If you can figure all those out and how to play ‘em at the same time, you can make it sound like the record.’”

Soon Lefty was transcribing songs by Steppenwolf, Led Zeppelin and Yes before moving on to more difficult material. By 11, he was playing in bands. “Death metal!” he laughs. While playing upright bass in the school orchestra he learned how to read music, and in 1998 he made his way to the Atlanta Institute of Music to hone his guitar skills. There he found that his condition put him on equal—if not higher—footing than his peers and instructors at the Atlanta Institute of Music, who envied his “perfect” picking technique. “A lot of guitar players change between moving their wrists and their elbow and their fingers,” he says. “Mine never really changes.”

After graduating with honors, Lefty was offered a teaching position at AIM. During that time, he gravitated from metal to grunge bands learning valuable lessons from each. “I can shred if I want to,” he says, “but I get really bored with that. The one thing I took from grunge music was not soloing, just taking your time and making your songs as good as you can possibly make them.” 

Wanting to know more about this Amazing Artist had a few questions:

When did you write your first song ?

I don’t really remember when I wrote my first song. I was probably 7 or 8 and it was probably about wizards and dragons., ha ha ha. “I’m Fine,” however, is the song that sort of pushed me into starting the Lefty Williams Band. I wrote it while I was still playing in Wayside Riders and it got a great response. So I started trying to write more. When I left that group, I had a handful of tunes that I felt were pretty solid so, I decided to put out my own CD.

What are your influences?

Led Zeppelin is and has always been #1. Pink Floyd is up there. The Grateful Dead is a favorite. Douglas Adams (who wrote Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) for his sense of humor. Blackberry Smoke is a big influence right now. The Black Crowes are amazing. Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Perpetual Groove, Robert Palmer, Iron Maiden, Fates Warning, Faith No More, Morphine, Miles Davis, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr. (I love Sr. too, I just spent more time with Jr. in the 80’s), this list could get really long. I love all kinds of music. If it’s good…it’s good.

Advice for new players?

Practice, practice, practice practice practice. And then when you think you’re good… practice, practice, practice, practice. Also, listen to great music from all eras and genres. Take the time to learn how to play the songs. Then take the bits that you like most and find a way to make it your own. Change it up a little.

If you could share the stage with anyone Dead or Alive, who and why?

This list could get really long too. I would love to play with John Bonham and John Paul Jones. That has got to be the most amazing rhythm section ever.

Highlight of your career to date?

Probably playing to 7000+ people at Riverfront Nights last August in Chattanooga.

When your not making MUSIC what are you doing? Hobbies, interests?

I love the great outdoors and I love to travel. When I’m taking time off, you’ll typically catch me somewhere fishing/camping, or on the other side of the world. My wife and I are both avid travelers. We’ve been to France, Mexico, Turkey, Korea, the U.S. & British Virgin Islands, Canada, and roughly 40 of the 50 states. We’re looking into Ireland in 2013 if the world doesn’t end, ha ha.

Jason is a Great Story Teller weaving words about real life experiences! One of my faves is “A Little Bit of Faith” says he wrote it for his wife as a promise to never goof around on her.
~Here is “A Little Bit of Faith” on youtube~

Lefty Williams holds endorsements from:
Mahalo Amplification
Curbow Stringed Instruments
Delaney Guitars
Mad Professor Pedals
Rocky Mountain Slides
Curt Mangan Fusion Matched Strings

Few quotes from Friends~

 

Grant Reynolds had this to say about his friend and fellow musician, “Apart from being an immensely talented musician, he’s one hell of a good friend. He’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He also may be one of the funniest people I’ve ever met.”

 


Bob Lee
photog had this to say,“I was nervous about attending a new church in Canton.Was met by the greaters, walked in & there was Lefty doing sound ck. for worship service.I knew I had found a home. I love that guy ,He is my brother in Christ.”

 

Scott Phillips of Mahalo Amplification, “I’ve known Lefty Williams for 10 years and am constantly amazed at the energy and passion Lefty puts into his playing. Lefty is a must-see artist.

 

 

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