Mixing Business and Pleasure: Brooks Williams plays Pasadena on his vacation | Arts & Events
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Folk/blues musician Brooks Williams is headed to the United States on vacation, but he’s eschewing work-life balance to play a handful of gigs.
Georgia-born Williams — who moved to England, his wife’s home country, in 2010 — will perform Friday, Oct. 20, at Knox Presbyterian Church in Pasadena.
“My wife and I are coming out on holiday, which we’ve done a couple years in a row,” he said.
“We take some time off, enjoy the weather, enjoy the people and hang out. This year, I’m visiting a couple of the venues where I’ve played before. It’s a little bit of pleasure and business.”
Williams has released 33 recordings and appeared in countless concerts and festivals. He has been a mainstay of the roots acoustic music scene for more than three decades.
In Pasadena, Williams will mix and match songs from his catalog, with an emphasis on newer tracks. He’s quick to add that he reads the room in lieu of coming up with a set list.
“I like to take in the vibe of the space, and I’ve made more than 30 recordings over the years,” he said.
“I have a lot of material that I can draw from and play blues and country numbers, folk numbers. I pluck from that vast collection of songs. I can be a bit more spontaneous this way.”
Music is in Williams’ blood. After high school in Georgia, he moved to Boston to study English and journalism in college.
While in the Northeast, he realized music was his calling, as playing guitar, singing and writing songs was “really the only thing that fully captured my attention, interest and energy.”
“It was always my hope to somehow forge some kind of career out of music,” he added.
“When you’re young, you don’t know what that means. But I know if I could spend most of my time with a guitar in my hand, then I would be absolutely doing the thing I love the most.”
That was 35 years ago, and since then, he’s collaborated with Rab Noakes on “Should We Tell Him: Songs by Don Everly;” as well as Boo Hewerdine, Jim Henry, Dan Walsh, Sloan Wainwright, Hans Theessink, Sally Barker and Guy Davis.
Living in Cambridge, England, has been inspirational to him.
“I think that anytime we make any kind of change — if we move from one part of a country to another part — it stirs things up a bit and certainly does inspire creativity,” he said.
“It really super turbo-charged my understanding of the language. Even though the English and Americans speak the same language, there’s a vast difference.
“It made me so much more tuned into how the English language works. That’s affected my songwriting in a really positive way. I (obtained) a broader sense of the power of words and the economy of words. It was very interesting.”
He understands that, fundamentally, we’re all the same.
“I find that when I sing my music here (in England), the words may be really American, but the audience can still relate to it. I’m singing about things that resonate with people here as well. That’s the power of music.”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20
WHERE: Knox Presbyterian Church, 225 S. Hill Avenue, Pasadena
COST: $20 per person suggested donation
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