Thursday, March 21, 2013

Warner Williams Live at B.B. King's Bluesville

Guitarist Warner Williams and harmonica player Jay Summerour have been playing the Washington DC area as Little Bit A Blues for about two decades. Williams is a Piedmont blues treasure although bis guitar style and repertoire shows more than a little country influence, particularly the picking style of Merle Travis and a fairly diverse repertoire. In 2011 he was honored by the National Endowment of the Arts as a National heritage Fellow. Warner does not travel outside of DC very often he will not fly, which probably accounts for him being not familiar to many.

The cover of Little Bit a Blues’ new CD on Soul Stew records is Live at B.B. King’s Bluesville. This is the duo’s fourth album joined by Eric Selby’s deft drums and percussion. Earlier albums include two on the Patuxent label and one on Smithsonian Folkways from a variety of live performances. The cover of this CD labels it The Best of Little Bit A Blues which is odd insofar as this is not a compilation of their best recordings. Rather recorded in November 2012 at the SiriusXM studios of songs that are perhaps the core of Warner’s repertoire.

Starting with Blind Boy Fuller’s Step It Up and Go, through the closing instrumental Little Bit A Blues Theme, Warner takes us through a pretty diverse repertoire including some humorous country honky tonk, Hey Bartender, There’s a Big Bug in My Beer, a ramped up rendition of Lightnin’ Slim’s swamp blues Greyhound Blues, and fine renditions of blues standards like Key to the Highway, Going Down Slow, I Feel So Good, and Good Mornin’ Little School Girl. Despite the familiarity of the material, Warner puts his own stamp on this with his deft guitar playing that incorporates some jazz and country boogie to complement his heartfelt singing while Summerour complements him so well and Selby adds rhythmic embellishments with a light touch.

It is so nice to have the new Little Bit A Blues recording Live at B.B. King’s Bluesville, to spotlight Warner Williams distinctive blues. His repertoire goes beyond what one might on this and he is such a delight to see perform. For those in the DC area, Warner and Jay with Eric will celebrate the release of this at Blues Alley on March 27 with guest Eleanor Ellis. Warner will also be performing at this year’s Pennsylvania Blues Festival at the Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Palmerton, Pennsylvania on Sunday, July 28. 

I received my copy from the performers.

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