Bill Ward

Bill Ward

 Houston, Texas, USA
BandFolkAcoustic

Dynamic acoustic singer/songwriter..."His music flows like it's been worn smooth, river over rock, a thousand years old." Kirpal Gordon - New York

Biography

"Bill Ward's got chops! No doubt about it, everything he plays and sings and writes and produces is so beautiful because it comes out of his lifelong love affair with music. He was born into it. Bill's mother Marguerite and his two aunts were called the Davis Sisters, a sweet harmony singing trio from the Thirties who recorded for Columbia Records and were quite well known throughout the South, playing for WIOD out of Miami. So when listeners hear Bill's blues-inflected baritone, his crystal-clear enunciation, his vocal command and his love of soaring harmonies, he's proud to credit both his genes and his mother's instruction to sing from the heart.
Bill Ward never set out to defy musical categories. "I just love all kinds of music," he says, shrugging at the labels that critics and industry-insiders have put on his unique sound, "country, gospel, opera, classical, jazz, blues, you name it. That's how I grew up."
Leaving a classical career on French horn in favor of composing and conducting, Bill plays just about every instrument in the orchestra. "I still want to learn violin," he said on his forty-seventh birthday. He started out at age five on piano and guitar, instruments he still plays at most shows, but expanded to French horn in high school, trumpet in a marching band and later the organ as choir director.
All the while, he was writing songs as well. His "Something for the Children," for example, was selected as the theme song for the March of Dimes in 1978. After college, he began to tour. Bill Ward & Making Waves headlined all over Florida playing dance music with a seven-piece band that featured Stan Kenton's first trumpet. "We played covers, but my band was so tight. No one was using trombone in those years, and my guys were all so talented that writing arrangements for them was so much fun," he said, looking back.
A veteran of the hard traveling touring circuit, Bill began composing larger scores. His "David and Goliath," a musical he wrote for performance on the beach, is still well remembered by many a citizen of Panama City. This experience led to commissions for film soundtracks and music production ventures at his studio in Houston, Texas, but as he puts it, "Writing my own lyrics and singing my own songs remains my first love musically."
1991 saw the release of his first CD," William is our Name". In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of pop radio, the CD still enjoys airplay in the U.S., Canada, Russia, Ireland and The Netherlands. You can hear him on Willie Nelson's "Outlaw for Peace" show, which airs worldwide on Radio for Peace International.
His most recent CD, "Skyline", shows a musical maturity unsurpassed among his peers. New York music critic Kirpal Gordon called it, "the real McCoy! And on eleven songs that just don't quit but build and bridge and return a profound sense of hope born of a willingness to witness the hardest truths about ourselves. My money says two-to-one they will still be heard, these songs of our common plight and possibility, after the corn-pone fascists, hair-do disasters and masters of the demographic hustle who have taken over Nashville are long gone."
Hill Country music critic Kathleen Hudson, author of Telling Stories, Writing Songs (UT Press), wrote, "No one has a voice as seductive as Bill Ward, but Skyline is more than just a great singer's showcase. It's the blend of voice, hard won lyrics, incredible instrumental skills and masterful arrangements that keep these songs in your head long after the CD stops playing."
Perhaps Austin critic Cathy Franklin said it best in her review, which comments on his forty-year career as a performer. "Unlike most of the acts at South by Southwest, Bill Ward is no overnight, one-hit, MTV flavor-of-the-minute. Let's put it this way: if music were food, Bill Ward's songs would be a banquet. Welcome to the feast."

Lyrics

While The Rest Of America Sleeps

Written By: Bill Ward

Strange is the silence that blankets these alleys
And smothers the litter strewn street
Deep lie the shadows that conceal quicken breathing
And the shuffle of felonious feet
A wino weaves through a yellow pool of light
He knows the gutters are now playing for keeps
A siren responds to a distant cry of help
While the rest of America sleeps

Coffee and hash browns served under neon
Twenty-four hours a day
The box on the counter will offer top forty at
Twenty-five cents per play
All night long come the poor the huddled masses
To their Naugahyde and porcelain retreat
The pulse of our society sips java from chipped glasses
While the rest of America sleeps

Sleep tight tonight
Safe on your Beautyrest
Tucked in your little nest
Do you still dream while you sleep
And while you sleep do you know
America is passing you by

Strange is the silence that blankets these alleys
And smothers the litter strewn street

Only Daughter

Written By: Bill Ward

On the dresser sets a picture
From eighteen sixty four
Kind of worn and faded
As old as these pine floors
It frames a man and woman
With eyes as dark as mine
The wheat fields stretch behind them to the sky

I look at that old picture
At least twenty times a day
I think about the tons of grain
This farm has trucked away
I am the only daughter
From a family built on sons
Sometimes it feels this work is never done

It’s hard to work the wheat fields
When your name is Mary Ann
When the reason you were born was to take a farmer’s hand
But I work the books ‘till midnight
Rise when the morning comes
It’s hell to be the only daughter of an only son

When they posed for that old picture
A field was just a field
Back before the middleman
Cut deep into the yield
Now when I shop the local market
I just have to hang my head
For my bushel will not buy a loaf of bread

Now I got this land and taxes
And a hundred years of pride
I keep the damned accountant
Like a Bible by my side
But I work what papa left me
And I do the best I can
I pray for rain and curse the middle man

Chorus

Matthew

Written By: Bill Ward

Matthew speaks in whispers,
And watercolor sentences,
That bleed just like a Savior in the rain on Bleeker Street.
The ghosts of post-beat hippies
Haunt an upside down fedora,
That's as crumpled as the dollar bills
That fall from wide eyed tourists at his feet.

A worn out set of bongos
That never changed their cadence;
Still beating in the sixties, as the nineties pass him by.
Dark glasses and a goatee,
An easel streaked with rhythm,
As a cigar burns beside him
Trailing smoke into the rainy village sky.

A shot of inspiration
From a brown bag on the sidewalk,
Puts the only period between verses yet unsung.
There's an after taste of Kerouac
That hangs above damp pavement,
And a hint of Ramblin' Jack drips warm as whiskey
From a long forgotten tongue.

A saxophone cries counterpoint
From the edges of a shadow
And they play improvisation in 4/4 Greenwich time.
Then as if on cue the rain stops,
With the last beat of his bongos;
And I flip a ten to Matthew,
For he's made
His magic mine.

Discography

“David and Goliath” 1976 (out of print) with The David Players

“William Is Our Name 1991 (cassette) solo

“Heroes & Sheroes” 1995 (cassette) with Allen Damron

“Bill Ward” 1997 (CD) solo

“KFF 2000 – vol. 1” 2000 (CD) best of Kerrville main stage

“Skyline” Winter 2000 (CD) solo

“Caught in the Act” 2005 Live ~ solo & trio