As a child, the clos­est con­nec­tion Karl S. Wil­liams had to the Mis­sis­sippi was that he grew up by a river. But it shaped his sound

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE & LOUD - IAIN SHED­DEN

K arl S. Wil­liams has the blues, but he has had plenty to cel­e­brate of late.

The 32-year-old mu­si­cian made his Blues­fest de­but ear­lier this month at the an­nual By­ron Bay fes­ti­val.

Af­ter blow­ing away crowds with three spell­bind­ing per­for­mances, the trou­ba­dour will ser­e­nade his home­town with a gig at Miami Mar­ketta to­mor­row night.

The singer, who lives what he calls a sim­ple life in the hills of Talle­budgera Val­ley, claims to be an au­then­tic blues­man – and not just be­cause he worked on a cof­fee plan­ta­tion, as some of the Amer­i­can leg­ends of blues once did.

Karl’s mu­sic ranges from pi­ano bal­lads to banjo-driven foot-stom­pers, but all fall un­der the blues ban­ner. He named his banjo Bet­tie Mae and his gui­tar Ida Belle af­ter women in the songs of blues leg­end Robert John­son.

“I call it blues and I know there is a cer­tain stigma at­tached to that,” says Karl.

“But the blues for me is the feel­ing in the mu­sic more than the style.”

Karl switched on to blues mu­sic as a teenager while living in the small NSW town of Woodburn on the banks of the Rich­mond River, an en­vi­ron­ment he says drew him to the mu­sic of the blues­soaked Mis­sis­sippi delta.

“I iden­ti­fied with it be­cause I was in a ru­ral town on the river,” he says.

“I felt there were a lot of par­al­lels be­tween Woodburn and the Mis­sis­sippi delta.”

Karl cites John­son, Son House and blues/jazz great Nina Si­mone among his in­flu­ences. The singer hopes his three per­for­mances at Easter’s Blues­fest will help raise his pro­file in Australia.

“I had never even been to the fes­ti­val be­fore,” he says.

“Which has al­ways per­plexed me be­cause I love blues. Play­ing it is a mat­ter of life and death to me.”

Pic­ture: KIT WISE

Karl S. Wil­liams was a hit with crowds at Blues­fest.

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