Saturday, 2 March 2013

Roulette TV: Davey Williams directed by Uri Gal-Ed

Emerging from the 1970's avant-garde scene in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, guitarist Davey Williams developed his unique style independently from so-called "centers of culture". Williams, author of the shortest novel in the world "Peanut" which is also the only word in the text, possesses a kind of surreal native southerner's sensibility which permeates the humor and freewheeling improvisation of his performances both as a soloist and as a member of early bands like Blue Denim Deals Without The Arms and Ron 'Pate's Debonairs, and the more recent Curlew and Numb Right Thumb, as well as his work with LaDonna Smith, John Corbett, and many other avantgardists. In his music, skillfully played authentic soul music and Delta blues slide guitar riffs occupy an equal position with sound explorations beyond any category -- he may use the historic bottleneck slide on his "object guitar" and follow that with an egg beater, a toy mouse, a wind-up dinosaur, metal rasps, or a six-foot long metal girder, and modifying electronics. This has an enormously appealing effect. To quote his website: "greatness of humor or artistic ability is no different from the greatness of parents' love (or any other sort of love), or a cloud formation, or an automotive repair". Williams opens his Roulette TV performance with an intriguing rendition of Delta blues-like bottleneck guitar riffs in a gritty timbre that are steadily modulated into an impressionistic keening filled with fleeting references to southern work songs, shouts, and laments. Laying his head on the amplifier, he sings a tongue-in-cheek ballad entitled "Let's Get Nervous Tonight". A fragment of Wagner's wedding march is played in passing, followed by a wild electro-jazz offering made up of stream of consciousness gestures mixed with laconic quotes from many blues and soul guitar styles. A distorted music box is accompanied by low string snoring and scratching sounds. In his interview, spiked with considerable downhome humor, Williams talks about legendary guitarists Robert Johnson and Johnny Shines, avoiding the ineffable "Two-Gun Pete", and his family's rejection of racism, as well as improvisation and structure, and the guitar as an ensemble of "voices".

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