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VIOLAB entrevista Brooks Williams


Brooks Williams, de Statesboro - Georgia,  compõe no estilo 'groove-laden'.  transita entre o blues e a ‘americana’ (estilo também conhecido por Alt-Country que define a música que engloba as influências do folk, country Rhythm & blues e rock) , apresenta-se pelos palcos do mundo há mais de 25 anos e conta com quase 20 CDs em seu nome. Segundo o site AmericanaUK, o trabalho de Brooks é 'impossível de não se gostar’. 
 
VIOLAB
 
How did you join the music universe?
 
 
BROOKS WILLIAMS
 
My earliest memories are musical ones - singing, banging out a rhythm on a drum, strumming chords on a little ukulele. My mother hoped I’d be a classical musician and had me taking violin lessons as early as five years of age. However, when I picked up the guitar at age ten a whole new world of singing, playing and writing opened up to me. I climbed aboard that musical train all those many years ago and I’m still riding that train today.

I’ve moved from Statesboro, Georgia to Boston, Massachusetts when I was in my late teens and the music clubs around Boston, the same clubs that Bonnie Raitt played years earlier, were where I got my start. Some of the venues were raucous bars. Others were quiet coffeehouses. Some liked a lot of blues. Others preferred a gentler singer-songwriter approach. In between these two extremes I developed my career. I was writing songs and playing gigs 4-5 nights a week, 12 months a year. I developed a regional following between New York and Boston in those early years which expanded nationally when I released my first album in 1990. That first album, "North From Statesboro", opened up a lot of doors for me and because of it I began to tour all of America. It also led me to my first record deal in 1992. Now, some 23 albums later, the road goes on and doors are still opening as I travel around the world. It just gets better and better!

 
 
VIOLAB
 
Do you have a process you follow when composing and arranging music or is it different every time? How do you usually go when producing music?
 
 
BROOKS WILLIAMS

All my writing begins with the lyrics. And if there are no lyrics, then the song begins with the melody. I feel a song should serve the lyrics - and if there are no lyrics, then the song should serve the melody. I look for the lyric and melodic hook and try to make it a central feature of every composition and arrangement. When I’m producing music, I endeavour to surround the song with sounds and rhythms that enhance the lyric and melodic hooks. 
 

VIOLAB

 Do you have musical influences from different countries? Which ones?
 

 BROOKS WILLIAMS
 
 I have a couple musical influences from countries different to mine. Brazilian bossa nova played a huge part in turning me onto fabulous chord voicings and grooves. Caetano Veloso is a huge influence on me, especially his song “O Leãozinho.” I love his singing - and the melody is incredible. Also, West African guitarists and singers, especially Boubacar Traore and Ali Farka Toure. Those minor blues modes and chord voicings lock into some of the coolest blues grooves on the planet. Another big influence is the Bahamian-calypso-blues of Joseph Spence. His reckless and funky fingerpicking caught my ear when I was just starting out and inspired me to look for bass lines in and around the chords I’m playing. It took me into the realm of being a “one-man band.”   
 

 VIOLAB

 At a personal level, what's the meaning of music?
 
 
BROOKS WILLIAMS

I think music offers us a road to universal peace. Music knows no boundaries or borders. It reaches across differences. It also brings people together. Musicians. Communities. It’s good for people to play music together - even on the local level - it makes, I believe, the world a better place. Even on the big stages, music brings us together. And it’s good for us personally. It’s good to listen to live music - to have music in our lives. It does something words can’t even come close to expressing. 
 

VIOLAB

Which instruments do you use and why did you choose them?
 
 
BROOKS WILLIAMS

I have three main guitars that I use on the road. I have a Collings acoustic steel string guitar. Collings Guitars are made in Texas - a place where great music come from! I have an OM model, which is a small-bodied guitar. It has a big sound for a small guitar and is especially well-suited for the blues and country music, my first loves. It is, simply, the best guitar I have ever played. It not only sounds good but also plays like butter! 

I play a National Estralita resophonic guitar. It has one of the most unique resonator voices on the planet. It sounds good when I fingerpick it and also when I use it for slide guitar. I mostly play it in open tunings (both G major and D major) but it also holds its own in standard tuning. It’s got a distinctive sound that is both old school and new. ??My third guitar is a Chickenbone John Cigarbox guitar. Made, literally, from a Cuban cigar box, it has only three strings and a kick-ass pickup. It’s a mighty sound for a small instrument. And it looks cool too! I keep it mostly tuned to an open-G chord and use it for a few songs every concert. It’s a very “old” sound and harkens back to the pre-blues era, when blues songs were first being written and slide guitar was being discovered as the best way to communicate the sound of the blues voice. 
 

 VIOLAB

 How do you amplify your instrument in live shows?
 
 
BROOKS WILLIAMS

I plug my Collings acoustic into a Headway EDB-2 preamp. It allows me to mix and EQ the two signals from my Kudos Memesis pickup (sound hole pickup and mini mic) and send it directly to the mixing desk. I plug both my resonator and cigarbox guitar through an Orchid preamp. This powerful little preamp allows me to adjust not only the gain but also the EQ quite quickly when I switch from one guitar to the other during my concerts. 
 

VIOLAB

Which strings do you use and why?
 
 
BROOKS WILLIAMS

My favourite strings are made by a UK company called Newtone. They are hand wound and are customised to my specific gauges which features a .013 on the high-E.
 

VIOLAB

 We are part of a cultural movement and an organized initiative that works to capture the new moment of Brazilian instrumental guitar. What do you regard as new and noteworthy on the instrumental guitar scene?
 
 
BROOKS WILLIAMS
 
There have been a couple of factors that I’ve observed as having a new and noteworthy influence on the instrumental guitar scene. The first is how much guitar music crosses over genres. Acoustic guitarists are bringing inspiration from many different sources - metal, jazz, country, blues - and mixing them with world rhythms. Young players seem to be equally knowledgeable of and comfortable with elements of the likes of Rodrigo y Gabriela, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin and Chet Atkins and are creating music that reflects that, which is very cool. The music is then shared on YouTube, so it reaches a further audience because of that. 

The other factor that seems to be having a huge impact on the instrumental guitar world is the prevalence of the artists building fine acoustic instruments. There are many talented builders who are bringing unique and creative ideas to their guitars and these guitars are finding their way into the hands of many players around the world.