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Jason “Lefty” Williams talks with TBB

When not touring the SE with the Lefty Williams Band or Revival an Allman Brothers Experience he host 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 & The Beatles.

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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

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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.

 

 

Artists to Watch

Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando

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Ange Alex

I owe him a poem:

Here’s a story of a sad clown who one night in February was traveling through O-town. 

He brought a suitcase and a lot of gum, he brought music and videos and tons of fun.

He sang high but mostly he sang low, and he put of one hell of a good show.

He gave a bearded guy a cupcake and danced with a lady, a wolf he would make

There is no doubt he is a boss sir, he even got love from Kevin Costner.

Fans filled the plaza for a night of delight as the 7 foot clown gave us some real insight.

He sang Bowie and Queen and even some Who, also Cash, Lorde and “Let it go” too

Videos played of pets and babies crying, also beautiful artwork and people smiling.

Last night Orlando was anything but mad as we showed much love for a clown that is sad.

Ok, I’d cry too after that poem. Here’s some more info:

If you haven’t been to see a Puddles Pity Party show, you are missing out. 

The show had me smiling and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but I was also moved so many times by the range of Puddles voice. True entertainment never gets old and I have a feeling he is going to last forever.

I loved the interaction he had with the crowd. He pulled numerous people up to help him on stage and all of them were good sports, one man even singing the entire song, “All by myself” karaoke style! The show was so well thought out and planned but with room for some hilarious improv. Especially at the end when he pulled the 3 fans from the audience dressed like clowns. At the end of them performing together, Puddles suddenly remembers that he is scared of clowns! Genius! 

Hands down one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.

 

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Holiday Fun

Kingsized Holiday Fun! Big Mike is Back at the Variety Playhouse!

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Big Mike Geier and his Kingsized Rock ‘n Roll Orchestra, along with the Dames Aflame Dancers, Lil’ Santa and other special guests, bring tidings of comfort and joy with their signature glitz and glamour in what has become a tinsel-time tradition at the Variety Playhouse. The all-ages 90-minute show features your Holiday favorites by the likes of Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Heat Miser, The Grinch and more!

Photo: Emily Butler

We caught up with Big Mike to ask a few questions.

TBB: Big Mike! It’s been a couple years since we had the pleasure of seeing you perform live. We are so excited to be back in Atlanta and we are ready for this show. What can you tell us about this years event?

Big Mike: Welcome back to Atlanta, Ange! We’re also excited to be in town for another wild and wonderful Holiday Jubilee. We like to honor the tradition that the Jubilee has become and don’t mess too much with the format. You can expect the always magnificent sounds of the 12-piece Kingsized Rock ‘n Roll orchestra performing your favorite holiday classics and the dazzling Dames Aflame dancers providing the glamour. The show is all about holiday nostalgia, whatever that means to you: Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Donnie Hathaway, The Grinch, Rankin Bass, Peanuts, the Dreidel Song? It’s all in there.

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Music Gallery

Turkuaz at Aisle 5

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Brooklyn based funk band Turkuaz played at Aisle Five in Atlanta last week and here are some shots from the show!

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