Calgary-based musician Tim Williams is making a rare Ontario appearance in November to perform four shows, after being selected the world’s best guitar player and best solo/duo act at an international competition in Memphis, Tennessee earlier this year.
“This is not your usual battle-of-the-bands horse shit where a bunch of people play for free and club owners line their pockets with beer sales…this is the premier gathering of blues talent on the planet, sponsored by The Blues Foundation,” said Williams in a blog on his website. “I was in the solo/duo category, along with 101 other competitors from Canada, the US, Spain, Croatia, Germany, Denmark, Australia and the UK.”
The 30th International Blues Challenge (IBC), which is the world’s largest gathering of blues acts, was held in January 2014 in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. The five-day event in the Beale Street Historic District showcased a record 255 acts from 40 states and 16 countries. They competed in front of a panel of judges to be the best band or solo/duo act in the world.
As Williams progressed through each round of the competition, he met with old friends from various blues societies, enjoyed the local food and listened to a lot of great music. However, by the final day things start to get tense, when his cell doesn’t receive the e-mail detailing finalist orientation.
Williams hustles to the theatre and apologizes profusely, finds out when he plays, and then waits back stage for what seems like an eternity.
“I walk out to play my 20-minute set in the beautiful old Orpheum Theatre. I can’t even let myself think about all the greats who’ve stood on that stage,” said Williams in the blog. “Three acts later, it’s over and I hear my name being called. I’ve won Best Solo/Duo and Best Guitarist (Solo/Duo). Holy Shit.”
Williams won a preliminary competition held by the Calgary Blues Music Association, in order to be eligible to represent them in the semi-finals in Memphis. The Calgary Blues Society is an affiliate of the Blues Foundation.
Since winning this competition, Williams’ life has been very hectic. He returned home to Calgary in a small flurry of media attention and was given a Lifetime Achievement/Hall of Fame award by the Calgary Blues Music Association.
Williams continues to play his regular gigs in Calgary at Mikey’s Juke Joint and the Blues Can. In addition, he has been travelling around Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Oregon, Arkansas and West Virginia to promote his latest solo release, Blue Highway (2013).
The album is a travelogue down the blue highway, which is more of a state of mind than a place. With songs from the Delta, Mexico and shades of Hawaii, the album reflects Williams’ wide range of influences and highlights his superb guitar playing.
Williams will be making a rare appearance in Ontario in Peterborough, Toronto, St. Catharines and Ottawa on Nov 1, 2, 8 and 12 respectively.