Blues stars to slide into ToledoWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | email@example.com
Lil’ Ed Williams gets requests all the time — even at home.
“My wife had asked me to do something, my mother-in-law had asked me to do something, my daughter had asked me to do something. One was musical — making a tape for my mother-in-law. One was mechanical because I was working on my daughter’s car. And then my wife asked me to do some electrical work,” the blues singer and slide guitarist said.“And my daughter came in and said, ‘You know what? You’re musical, mechanical, electrical.’ And I said, ‘Hey, that’s kind of cool; let’s write a song about that!’ I really like ‘Musical Mechanical Electrical Man.’”
That track is from Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials’ disc “Jump Start,” named the No. 2 blues album of 2012 by Living Blues magazine.
No telling if Williams was wearing one of his trademark fezzes or if he did some backbends and toe walks while working.
Odds are he had fun.
“I remember when I first started recording with Bruce [Iglauer, president of Alligator Records], the first time we recorded [in 1986], we did 30 songs in three hours and that was real fun,” Williams said during a call from his Chicago home where he was plucking his guitar.
“I think we might have done one overtake on [‘Jump Start’], maybe two at the most. It was great.”
Williams and The Blues Imperials — bassist James “Pookie” Young, guitarist Mike Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton — are known for high-octane concerts showcasing Chicago shuffles, slide-guitar boogies and a rockin’ good time.
Seems it runs in the family. Williams and his half-brother Young learned from blues great J.B. Hutto, a slide guitarist from the Windy City.
“Uncle J.B. was a real good teacher. He taught me rhythm [guitar], and I pretty much picked up the lead from the rhythm,” Williams said.
“He gave me words on how to treat my fans: Always treat your fans good because they’re the ones making your paycheck. He told me to always respect my band members.”
And Hutto taught by example.
“I used to watch Uncle J.B. walk into the crowd and squat down and walk. He would do a few backbends and that excited me because it excited the people.
“So when I started to play, I was doing stuff before I actually even knew what I was doing because the music carried me. Next thing I know I was walking on my toes.
“And the music moved me in a way where I’d start doing backbends, jumping off stages, and people like that; they like to see me have a good time and I want to see them have a good time. So that’s why you see me act the fool so much on stage,” Williams said with a laugh.
Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials will play at 6 p.m. March 24 at Basin St. Grille in Toledo. Tickets are $18 for the public and $16 for Black Swamp Blues Society members. Doors open at 5 p.m.
“I know the younger generation is still getting into the blues because they come up to me and say, ‘Hey man, that stuff is great!’ And it’s not just all Jimi Hendrix, it’s not all Stevie Ray Vaughan, it’s blues, man. It’s the heart, it’s the feeling, it’s problem-solving, it’s happiness. That’s why it’s there because it’s all these things wrapped into one.”
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