Jon Williams & The Coin Toss
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Jon Williams & The Coin Toss

Duncan, Oklahoma, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2018 | INDIE

Duncan, Oklahoma, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2018
Band Americana Roots




"Jon Lyle Williams"

Jon Lyle Williams
Unsent Letters (Self-released)
By Darryl Smyers
Published: December 6, 2007

Subject(s): Jon Lyle Williams Hailing from a small Oklahoma town just north of the Red River, Jon Lyle Williams makes it into the metroplex fairly consistently, performing his stylish country/folk/blues at open mics, coffee houses or just about any place that will let him set down his guitar case.

Unsent Letters is his self-financed debut, but Williams has been writing songs (in and out of various bands) for a couple of decades, and that sense of experience and expertise shines through on each and every cut. Williams possesses a high, aching voice, well suited to the soul-searching of his songs. Coming across like a fascinating cross between James Taylor and Tom Waits, Williams' cracking tenor adds weight to his sincere and consistent country-laced songwriting. Backed up by longtime friends Daniel Tarbox and Mitch Stuckert, the dozen cuts on Letters sparkle with flourishes of mandolin, dulcimer and harmonica.

"Get What You Want," "Worse or Better" and especially "The 13th" are numbers of rare introspection for someone beating around the countryside looking for a place to play. Perhaps it is exactly the struggle that helps Williams define himself and find his place in the widely defined Americana genre. In any case, Unsent Letters is one of those secret little treasures just waiting to be discovered, a mature work produced from raw emotion and the kind of brutal honesty that has always colored the best rural music.
- The Dallas Observer

"Jon Lyle Williams & The Bravest Retreat"

Jon Lyle Williams and the Bravest Retreat — Jon Lyle Williams and the Bravest Retreat

I assume Jon Lyle Williams and the Bravest Retreat miss it, too, because their self-titled album seems like an ode to the decade with a certain affection for their Oklahoma roots thrown in for good measure.

Williams’ voice is a husky and powerful one à la Dave Matthews (“Fall on Me”), but there’s a little Michael Stipe writhing in there, too (“Ashtray”). It’s an unusual juxtaposition, yes, but with the Blues Traveler harmonica bursts that string this 10-song affair together, it all makes perfect sense.

Nevertheless, Williams and his band aren’t necessarily constrained to the decade that brought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the big screen. “Burn” is a knockout, vintage Western ditty, and album closer “Spinnin’ Wheels” is a gorgeous power ballad with a timeless appeal. The latter would do Bob Dylan right proud. The trio’s best work finds the perfect balance of those ’90s harmonies and accomplished Americana instrumentation (courtesy of percussionist Daniel Tarbox and bassist Donnie Berry), like they do in opener “White Flag” and “About Love.”

This isn’t groundbreaking material, but something tells me it was never meant to be. It’s as comforting as a flannel shirt that never wears out its welcome. - Oklahoma Gazette

"Coffee at The Cove"

Cedar Cove Studio Arts hosted a get together with Viridian Coffee to support organizations in Duncan – Charis Pregnancy Center, Duncan Police Department and a program providing scholarships for children to participate in classes at Cedar Cove. Music by Jonathan Williams, Pete Calhoun and Robert Bilbrey filled the studio as tables of people enjoyed their drinks. Duane Paul played the next set. Coffee cups made by Cedar Cove students were on sale to raise funds.

Linda Provost/The Duncan Banner - The Duncan Banner

"Toss The Coin"


When you take four life-long
musicians from Stephens
County, add a cup of luck,
two teaspoons of red dirt (because it is
everywhere), a cup of country music
— don’t forget to gently fold in about
a half-dozen or more instruments,
friendship and a little bit of bluegrass,
you might be able to reproduce Jon
Williams and the Coin Toss, but results
may vary — so best stick to the original.
Members Jon Lyle Williams, Robert
Bilbrey, Pete Calhoun and Tana Latham
have known each other, or known of
each other, most of their lives.
“I met Pete in middle school, and
we were kind of in the same circle of
friends,” Jon said. “I met Robert when
we were both 18. He showed up at a
concert I was doing at the fairgrounds.
Tana came later, but we were kind of an
accidental band.”
They didn’t trip into merchandise
or songs, but at first, the three male
members were asked to play for a few
events like Cedar Cove’s art school
receptions as a “house band.”
“The first several shows we had there,
we didn’t even have a name, and it got to
the point where people said, ‘We gotta
be able to call you something,’” Jon said.
“I think we decided that all band names
are stupid until you’ve heard them a
bunch of times. Tana heard us play, and
I’ll let her explain … “
While they never really hit on exactly
why “Coin Toss” became their name,
they did get to how Tana joined.
Tana had known Robert from his
involvement with Duncan Little Theatre
and Pete through friends, and then the
duo lent their talents to worship one
Sunday at First Christian.
“I recorded it for the church page, and
they kind of contacted me to see if they
could use my videos,” Tana said. “I asked
this man over here (points to Pete) for
a cheese dip date at my house for New
Years Eve, and what happened was
months and months later — I was their
‘superfan.’ I was going to all their events.
I was in the pool with his daughter, and
they were recording in the house, and
he said, ‘Here, why don’t you come into
the recording room and start singing?’”
Pete sprang Tana singing that day
on the band, so when she stepped into
the jokingly called “recording closet”
— even Pete wasn’t quite sure what to
“I was trusting that you (Pete) knew
she could pull it off, but you were just
as blind as I was, but she did it,” laughed
Jon. “It was a nice surprise.”
The group has morphed and changed
so much over time with the addition of
members and skills, Jon isn’t even sure
what genre they really are.
“The genre that we fall into is kind of
wide in a sense,” Jon said. “A bluegrass
band would be, by definition, someone
who followed the strict instrumental
lineup that Bill Monroe created and
had a certain set of five instruments. A
diehard bluegrass fan would hang us for
calling ourselves a bluegrass band.
“But the Americana roots thing
incorporates bluegrass and incorporates
folk music, old country music, blues —
it’s sort of like the roots of the tree that
everything branched out from.”
Robert added that they seem to play
what they like, and write what they like.
“We’ve got one or two songs that
could sound like a red dirt song, one or
two that sound bluegrass, old country
… subtle gospel sound/lyrics sprinkled
throughout, sometimes it isn’t so subtle,”
he said.
Getting into music was a family affair
for all the members — from a wish to
Santa to lessons and more, the genuine
love of music and all that comes with it
“I just remember when I was young,
I would pull out pots and pans and
grab my mom’s wooden spoons,” Pete
said. “I guess in 5th grade, I started
playing saxophone in school … I hated
marching band. But, during that time
in junior high, I got an electric guitar
for my 14th birthday, and during that
time skateboarding and stuff was real
popular and cool. I guess any boy
that’s a teenager — that’s why he starts
playing music, because it’s the cool
thing to do.”
While Jon agreed and added “Girls,”
— his history isn’t so different.
“When I was in kindergarten …
I asked for musical instruments for
Christmas, and I got a junior drum
kit,” Jon said started to laugh. “They
(My parents) didn’t like me after that
sometimes. I got a toy organ that had
a number chart, and I got a marine
band harmonica, and later on, my aunt
actually got me a guitar that ended up
getting broken over my brother’s head.”
Despite one too many Quick Draw
McGraw cartoons with “El Kabong,” the
real turning point came in junior high.
“When I was 13, I begged my parents
for a guitar,” he said. “I had heard some
delta blues, of all things, like acoustic
old blues, and I was really drawn to that
sound. I had never heard anything like
Jon’s maternal grandmother started
teaching him guitar, kindling his
burning passion for music a bit faster
than the others.
“A lot of where I started and what
I got to get me started came from my
grandmother, and that may be why
I’m drawn to this kind of music too,”
Jon said. “She lived through the Great
Depression and was a Carter Family
fan, and it was just a downward spiral. I
never got tired of it.”
Robert’s parents were concert people
and little Robert was down for the ride.
“My parents had a love for music,
especially country music,” he said. “My
mom played the piano, but my dad said
the only thing he could play was the
radio. I was surrounded by it. I just had
a love for it, and at about 15 or 16 years
old, I got serious. I took my first lesson
at Merle Brandon’s music store, which
is cool, because 10 years later, I gave
lessons in that same studio.”
Tana joked she was “voluntold”
into music as her father was a Baptist
minister, so music was a high priority.
“I started in school — I played the
flute, and because I was very proficient
in reading sheet music, they sent me
to the french horn, which had a spit
valve, and I wanted no part in that,” she
said as she make a disgusted face and
shook her head. “Then, I found my love
in theater. That was my thing in high
school, and I’m involved in Duncan
Little Theater now. That’s what kind of
brought me here with (the band).”
Something Tana had to learn was
the difference from stage singing to
microphone singing, which she credited
to Russell Hulme.
The need to create and share music
has always been there, but now with the
creation of Coin Toss, they have a way
to share that joy.
“At the end of it, it’s entertainment. I
know that music can affect people, and
it can move people,” Jon said. “That’s
why I love it, and that’s why I love
to listen to it. With any good art, the
reason it’s good is because it touches
on something transcendent that maybe
we don’t completely understand. That’s
kind of the bittersweet aspect of good
art, whenever it actually moves you in
some way.
“If one of us writes a song, and we’re
expressing something that maybe
we’ve gone through or something that
happened, then more than likely, if
it’s an honest song, somebody else has
experienced that too. That sense of
solidarity goes a long way.”
Robert agreed that music was a way to
express things that may be hard to put
in other ways.
“My job is, no matter how many
people are there, and they might not
have had a good day, but for an hour, I
can give them something to feel good
about,” Robert said. “There’s so much
negativity in this world. I try to do
something positive. It’s cool how we
get to go to so many different places
— we still have the same message for
everybody, we don’t care who you are.
You’re there to enjoy music, and we’re
there to play.”
Robert isn’t the only one that feels
that music is more powerful than some
believe. Tana thinks that music has the
power to bring people back to happier
“That’s why we sometimes really hold
on to the classics. It brings people, it
brings me back at least, to our childhood
and our memories. Sometimes, I feel like
I’m 7 years old in my dad’s plumbing
truck, and I’m like, ‘I can smell the pipe
cleaner.’ I don’t think I’ve ever looked
out while we were playing and everyone
wasn’t smiling.”
Music has touched the lives of Coin
Toss in profound ways, to the point that
Pete said he’d be playing music still, even
without the band if things had been
“Musicians have a tendency to be
musicians, because they have trouble
expressing themselves in other ways,”
he said. “Even if you aren’t playing to
anybody, you can still sit in a room with
an instrument and get your feelings
out. To me, it feels better getting them
out on an instrument than it does to
someone else. It tends to do a more
thorough job.”
Robert said he wouldn’t know where
he’d be without the outlet.
“I’ve been blessed to meet some of
the best musicians in the whole world
and never had to leave town. I love what
we’re doing here. It lets me do a little
bit of everything that I love,” he said.
“The only time I didn’t play music, I was
probably the most miserable in my life.
I got away from it because of issues in
my life that, thank the Lord, I’ve grown
past. I told the Lord when I wasn’t
playing, ‘If You could help me out, I will
put all my energy that I put in the bad
stuff into good stuff, the music.’ And I’ve
kept that promise to Him.”
Tana was quick to extrapolate on
Robert’s sentiment.
“Having music gives a wonderful,
good, positive focus in certain times in
my life,” she said. “Where I am now and
with them, you’re distracted by hurt
feelings or sadness, or you’re busy, it’s
nice at the end of the day to have this
as what you’re focusing on and working
on together as a united team.”
Jon agreed “It’s just good for my soul
and good for my mental health,” and
keeping that in balance was important
to him.
“What I’ve been trying to do is for
my gratitude to be bigger than what
my expectations are,” Jon said. “We are
an accidental band, and we just started
playing, and more people started asking
us to play. I will play music as long as I
am physically able to play music, and I’ll
pursue whatever opportunities arise. I’m
grateful for every opportunity we get,
and I think as long as that outweighs
my expectations, we will be fine.
“When people think of music careers,
they think of mega-stars, giant careers
that are ridiculous to compare yourself to. There’s a lot of things between the
guy sitting on the couch playing his
guitar and that. If I get to the point
where I can just support myself with
music, that would be wonderful.”
The band is working on an LP and
all their music, a schedule of shows and
more can be found on their website or their
Facebook page Jon Williams &
the Coin Toss. - Duncan Magazine


LP Jon Lyle Williams "Unsent Letters" 2008
EP Jon Lyle Williams & The Bravest Retreat "Covers" 2012
LP"Jon Lyle Williams & The Braves Retreat" 2012

LP Jon Williams & The Coin Toss Production Spring 2019/ Release date TBA 



Jon Williams & The Coin Toss is an "Old Time"/ Americana/ Roots Band from southwest OK. They play a combination of originals & folk standards with their own unique interpretation. 

Band Members