Michael Williams Band
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Michael Williams Band


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""If blues-rock has any legs left it’s partly due to releases like this Eddie Kramer-produced CD..."

If blues-rock has any legs left it’s partly due to releases like this Eddie Kramer-produced CD, which gets a bit more adventurous than simply giving the Texas guitarist/vocalist an avenue to rip it up on a Strat over familiar forms. Some left of- center twists, such as on the Cuban-flavored “Entre Tus Ojos,” make it clear that Williams isn’t afraid to think outside the box. - Guitar Player Magazine - Art Thompson

""Fire Red is brilliant. It’s funky, soulful, and genuinely brings back the spirit of classic hard rock.""

It would seem that Michael Williams will cement his status as a rising blues superstar with the release of the album Fire Red. Teaming up with the legendary producer Eddie Kramer, Fire Red is a clash of soulful blues music and fiery guitars to create one of the best blues/rock albums of the year.

The album opens with two naturally cool tracks, “Hey Baby” and “No More Suffering”; both are summery songs with great, catchy riffs, soulfully expressive vocals, and just ooze with a chill vibe. Within these two tracks Williams displays his ferocity and proficiency with some wicked solos throughout. “Entre Tus Ojos” is the odd one out in the record. A track with a passionate Latin/Spanish sound complete with Spanish guitars and arpeggios, layered with harmonized Spanish lyrics. The track could to some seem a bit misplaced considering the rest of the songs on the album. “Bet Yo’ Mama” is a good rock track despite the suspect, unsubtle lyrics; however more of Williams’ incendiary guitar riffs and soloing carries the track. “Fire Red” is classic heavy rock tune with loud, aggressive guitar licks and solos. “If You Let Me” follows the same assertive heavy rock tone; The track is dominated by wailing guitars, pounding drums and crashing symbols. “Lately” is a beautiful track. It’s slow blues with a soulful vibe and Williams’ voice echoing with a tranquil, calm tone. The music flows, soars at times and flutters magnificently. The Final track “Dead And Gone” has a sweet, cheery melody, accompanied by morose lyrics, the track has a tender tune to it and an effective closing track on the album.

Fire Red is brilliant. It’s funky, soulful, and genuinely brings back the spirit of classic hard rock. Williams and the band’s excellence comes from their ability to create catchy melody hooks and great scorching guitar riffs, and solos that makes Williams the hottest new blues guitarist.

The Review: 9.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

- Hey Baby
- No More Suffering
- Fire Red
- Lately
- Dead And Gone
- If You Let Me - Blues Rock Review - UK Josh May - Feb 2012

""You're not just listening to a recording; you're hearing a performance...Don't miss out on this exceptional recording. Kick up the dust and enjoy raw boogie-rock - Texas style.""

Fire Red

Houston, TX

“Texas heat”

Fire Red has a rather fitting title, because it’s on fire. This is truly an original work that gives you hints of various “classic” artists of years past. Williams’ talent however, stands on its own, and is sculptured by one of rock music’s legendary producer/engineers (Eddie Kramer). There is a genuine chemistry that is brought to life and captured on tape, as demonstrated in this action-packed collection of raw boogie-rock that generates a seductive and lively motion.

Fire Red is prominently guitar oriented, a variety of gritty tube-driven and nicely compressed guitars, excellent track separation, and rich vocals which are energetic, soulful, and complemented by a tastefully added horn sections in all the right places. Such treats and excellent usage of the wah pedal and slide guitars are implemented gracefully. Feelings of the Jimmy Page sound on tracks like “Bet Yo’ Mama” and “If You Let Me” bring a distinct and gritty blues-rock influence, similar to Physical Graffiti.

“Don’t Put Me Out” and title track “Fire Red” display the nuances of Jimi Hendrix, and “No More Suffering” includes nicely layered Frank Zappa-esque style while maintaining William’s own charisma and core. You’re not just listening to a recording; you’re hearing a performance.

Don’t miss out on this exceptional recording. Kick up the dust and enjoy raw boogie-rock – Texas style. (True Blue Productions) - Performer Mag - Arthur Orfanos - Feb 2012

""Fire Red is, arguably, just the sort of album Jimi might’ve produced today, were the guitar guru still among us...""

Fans of slick blues guitar playing a la Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa, and Buddy Guy should check out The Michael Williams Band this Sunday, May 13th, at House of Blues. The Seattle-based quartet will be opening the Mother’s Day show for Jonny Lang—but not before livening up the Fox 8 Morning Show on Friday, May 11th.

Fronted by the fleet-fingered son of Larry “Junior Medlow” Williams (who set the Texas blues circuit afire in the 80s) The Michael Williams Band is still touring behind last year’s acclaimed Fire Red. In addition to Lang, the band has supported such guitar-slinging MVPs like Robert Cray and Eric Johnson—but their rowdy, feel-good shows are often just as memorable as the headliners.

Joining Williams will be keyboardist Ryan Shea Smith, drummer Darin Watkins, and bassist Gerald “Tugboat” Turner II. Each musician is a virtuoso in his own right, demonstrating consummate chops on the MWB debut The King of the Dead. Producer Eddie Kramer (the multi-Grammy winning engineer behind Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin) singled out the band for high praise during sessions for Fire Red, remarking that few—if any—contemporary musicians are doing more to further blues guitar than Williams.

Williams’ latest effort for Remark Music / True Blue Productions kicks off with spirited soul jam “Hey Baby.” Featuring an earnest vocal, irresistibly slinky guitar riff, connect-the-dots bass, and decorative horns, the tune immediately recalls the work of R&B legends like Wilson Pickett and James Brown. Williams’ chicken pickin’ guitar solo also nudges the music into territories frequented by Black Crowes and Gov’t Mule. The wah-wah drenched “No More Suffering” finds Williams shirking the “monkey” of oppression off his shoulders, his twangy guitar leads offsetting a crunchy chorus with multilayered vocals.

Remember the 1970s children’s television show Villa Alegre? No? “Entre Tus Ojos” rides the same salsa-fueled progression, with Williams referencing the Latin rhythms of Carlos Santana and busting out some flamenco chops. An acoustic guitar dances in the left channel while his electric occupies the right, with William’s vocal (in Espanol) and Smith’s piano front-and-center, coasting over Watkins’ snare shuffle and wood block impacts. The refrain is likewise group effort, its dense vocal harmonies evoking a mariachi band. The song—whose English translation amounts to “Between the Eyes”—demonstrates Williams’ readiness to step outside the blues oeuvre and mix things up.

The chunky rhythm guitar of “It’s No Surprise” plants the group back in Bluesville, with Williams’ deft solos conjuring Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chris Duarte, and John Frusciante. The smoldering vocal and boisterous brass coalesces into an over-the-top outro wherein Williams and company work through a series of tension-building key changes before winding down. “Bet Yo’ Mama” is a gritty twelve-bar romp straight out of the ZZ Top songbook that bounces over Watkin’s and Turner’s sturdy rhythm, with Smith’s soulful organ the musical tether that keeps it all grounded.

The slow, sultry “Fire Red” pays tribute to Hendrix with a wah-laden hammer-on, pull-off riff recalling the bayou blues of “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).” Fire Red is, arguably, just the sort of album Jimi might’ve produced today, were the guitar guru still among us, and the title track sizzles with the same acid-washed guitar psychedelics popularized by the Jet City six-stringer so many years ago. “Don’t Put Me Out” shimmies with funky, herky-jerk groove not unlike the clavinet-propelled riff from Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Arriving at the bridge, Williams does the musical equivalent of setting it aflame, his fingers doing a rapid-fire dance across the guitar neck. Swampy roadhouse rocker “If You Let Me” showcases tasty slide guitar over an urgent bass-and-drum stomp.

But Williams has a soft side, too. “Lately” is the native Texan’s “Little Wing,” a plaintive, echoey ballad whe - The Cleveland Sound - Pete Roche - May 2012

""Imagine if Jimi Hendrix came out of Texas. That’s what you’ve got in Mike Williams, lead singer, guitarist, powerhouse. The kind of performer who makes you scream. He’s just outrageous.""

Imagine if Jimi Hendrix came out of Texas. That’s what you’ve got in Mike Williams, lead singer, guitarist, powerhouse. The kind of performer who makes you scream. He’s just outrageous.

This trio had the unenviable task of opening for Delbert McClinton and his fervent following. I had nooo interest- until Williams opened his mouth and let loose with a white Fender Strat. Yipes!

Providing fluid bass lines was Jeff Leonard, and Darin Watkins brought the thunder- a rock drummer who plays in the pocket. I was in heaven. A note about personnel: Leonard was subbing for Gerald “Tugboat” Turner II, who has played with- well, so many name people in every musical genre that it’d be easier to tell you who he hasn’t. Leonard and Watkins are in-demand journeymen based in the Northwest, who each seem to play or record with five bands at the same time; Watkins has been Williams’s drummer on both his CDs.

They led off with “Fire Red,” the Williams-penned title track from the current CD (Remark Music Ltd. & True Blue Productions LLC), produced by Eddie Kramer, who has two of the best ears in the rock business. Like, he produced the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Stones, and Jimi Hendrix. He’s damn right: “There’s nobody out there doing what Michael’s doing.”

Next up was “It’s No Surprise,” also from Fire Red; what caught my eye at one point early in the set (not sure on which tune) was a way-cool funky snare/cymbal figure that nearly undid my preference for tom-toms and minimal cymbal action. “Lately,” a power ballad, and “If You Let Me” are also from Fire Red, the latter song reworked from their 2008 CD King of the Dead.

Williams is the real deal: raw rock power, great voice, powerful stage presence- and then he pulled out an ace: switched to a different guitar, sat down with it across his knees, used a cigarette lighter as a slide, and played it like a pedal steel. I wasn’t the only one who nearly fell out of my seat at “Bet Yo Mama,” the showstopper- take that, Lenny Kravitz!

Left-handed player, moved to Seattle, played at the Jimi Hendrix Gallery opening- yes, you can hear the Hendrix influence, but always within the context of pure rock: no jazz experimentation going on, just muscular, flat-out ka-pow! But talk about underdressed; Jimi would’ve plotzed. Mike showed up for work in undershirt, messed up jeans, a tattoo collection, and a wool cap. And yeah, he can sing the blues, too, but he stamps it with rock: listen to “Hey Baby” from Fire Red. The scary thing is, it looks like he’s just getting started.

The Mike Williams Band is touring the States through the end of the year, and then, who knows. Keep your ears open. In the meantime, you can get the music at: www.michaelwilliamsband.com (click on the Fire Red logo). And just know that anything you hear on record is ten times wilder, heavier, and more intense onstage. You’re gonna need mitten clips on your socks.
- Rock's Back Pages Blog - Kris DiLorenzo


2007 - King of the Dead
2011 - Fire Red, produced by Eddie Kramer

Radio airplay: Hey Baby, Fire Red, No More Suffering, Don't Put Me Out, Bet Yo'Mama, Dead & Gone

All tracks are receiving streaming airplay.



About the album: FIRE RED

Eddie Kramer is the multi Grammy-award winning producer and engineer renowned for his lifelong work with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Buddy Guy; along with countless other Grammy-Award Winning rock music legends. Eddie is one of the founders of Electric Lady Studios in NY.

Michael Williams:
Michael Williams is one of the few guitarists for the new generation who can truly claim to draw inspiration from a bloodline of musicians. He grew up watching the performances of his father, Larry “Junior Medlow” Williams, still considered a legend in the Texas Music circuit for his performances throughout the 80‘s and 90’s with The Cobras and The Bad Boys. Embodying this past, Michael blends his own soulful voice with a commanding stage presence and passionate guitar playing. In the early 2000s, Michael moves to Seattle and forms the Michael Williams Band. He records and releases his first full album in ‘07, KING OF THE DEAD, a Texas-rooted, hard-hittin’ album full of outrageous guitar licks and his rich signature tones in electric, slide and acoustic guitar.

The Band:
Supporting Michael for the recording of FIRE RED is an all-star Seattle rhythm section. They are Ryan Shea Smith on keyboard/B3, Gerald “Tugboat” Turner II on bass guitar, and Darin Watkins on drums. Also featured on drums for several tracks is longtime B.B. King drummer, Tony Coleman http://drummertonycoleman.com/), who appears on the album courtesy of the legendary B.B. King Band.

Each member brings a diverse background of influences to compliment Michael: Ryan Shea Smith brings over 30 years of classical, jazz, gospel, blues and R&B influences to songwriting, keys/B3, and background vocals. As a John Lennon Songwriting Award winner for his critically acclaimed jazz album “Stay Awhile." Ryan is an integral part of the creative process and songwriting team. Gerald “Tugboat” Turner is a very talented live and professional studio bassist who brings with him funk, soul, blues, Motown, and gospel influences. Darin, on drums, adds showmanship to his deftly smooth yet hard-hitting style rooted in classic rock n’ roll, jazz and the blues. Tony Coleman, B.B. Kings longtime drummer, also is featured on several tracks on the album.

Other members supporting the Michael Williams Band live performances include: Seattle-bassist Jeff Leonard, LA- bassist Angelo Barbera (from The Doors) Mike “the Animal” Stone, a drum instructor from the Seattle Drum School of Music.