Alex Williams

Alex Williams

Saturday Jan 12 2019

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Beachland Tavern

$12.00 - $15.00

This event is all ages

Alex Williams
Alex Williams
"I grew up on 80's hair metal," Alex Williams says with a laugh. "My dad listened
to Cinderella and Ratt, so that was my musical upbringing until I was about 16.
That's when my grandparents played me 'Dreaming My Dreams' by Waylon
Jennings and 'Red Headed Stranger' by Willie Nelson."

It would be hard to overstate the importance of those records on Alex Williams'
life. After hearing them, he traded in his electric guitar for an acoustic, dove deep
into classic country music, and, most importantly, began writing his own songs.
Roughly a decade later, Williams is releasing his debut album, 'Better Than
Myself,' and much like Willie and Waylon, he's doing it on his own terms.
"It seems like there's a lot of people out there just trying to get through the day,"
reflects Williams. "They're working a job they don't love or following somebody
else's dreams just because it's safe and it keeps them comfortable. I didn't want
to be like that."

'Better Than Myself' is a distant cry from the sugary pop hybrids currently
dominating country radio airwaves, and as far as Williams is concerned, that's a
good thing. He's part of a new breed of upstart outsiders, writing music that at
once sounds both modern and traditional, channeling the raw, authentic sound
that's made stars out of outlaw singers and red dirt rockers. His live show is a
force to be reckoned with, earning him dates with everyone from Lynyrd Skynyrd
to Hank Williams, Jr., but he's equally at home in the studio. Fat, twangy guitar
tones, honky-tonk pianos, and swirling pedal steel lay the framework for Williams'
blend of vintage country and southern rock, and his lived-in baritone breathes
genuine life and depth into his based-on-a-true-story brand of songwriting.
"This record represents the last ten years of my life," says Williams. "My
thoughts, my feelings, everything that I've been through, it's all in these songs.
It's what I've wanted to say for a decade."

Williams was born just outside Indianapolis, in the small town of Pendleton, IN.
After graduating from high school, he relocated to Nashville for a short-lived stint
at Belmont University, but he quickly dropped out after realizing he could learn
more about life by hitting the road and experiencing it than he ever could in a
classroom.

"I played some in Nashville and did the Broadway thing, and I played locally
around Indiana some, too, but my first real gigs were in Texas," remembers
Williams. "I went down there because my cousin owned this shrimper bar on the
Gulf coast where I could play. That was a big part of what got me so into Texas
and all those Texas songwriters like Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Billy Joe
Shaver."

Williams had a band with some of his former college classmates, and by the time
he was ready to make the leap and go solo, buzz about the group had caught the
ear of Big Machine Label Group's Julian Raymond. While Big Machine might be
best known as home to crossover stars like Taylor Swift, Raymond's illustrious
pedigree as a GRAMMY-winning songwriter and producer included work with old
school greats like Glen Campbell and Hank Williams Jr., and he sensed
something special in Williams.

"I was worried," remembers Williams. "I was 25, leaving this band, and I had no
idea where my career was going to go, but Julian gave me a chance. He invited
me to come by and start recording demos of my songs, and we probably ended
up doing 50 or 60 of them. We kept slimming it down, but I kept writing."
When it was time to head into the studio for proper recording sessions, Williams
and Raymond pieced together an all-star band featuring some of Nashville's
finest musicians: drummer Victor Indrizzo (Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris),
keyboard player Matt Rollings (Lyle Lovett, Mark Knopfler), bassist Joeie
Canaday (Leann Rimes, Steven Curtis Chapman), pedal steel player Dan
Dugmore (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt), and guitarists Tom Bukovac (Don
Henley, Stevie Nicks) and J.T. Corenflos (Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson).
With Raymond at the helm as producer, the band recorded live on the studio floor
and wrapped basic tracking in just two days. The result is a rollicking throwback
chock full of wit and wisdom, colored throughout by Williams' fierce streak of
independence. Album opener "Better Than Myself," which features harmonica
legend and longtime Willie Nelson bandmember Mickey Raphael, sets the stage
perfectly, as Williams sings, "Truth be told in every note I play / Truth be told I
don't care what you say."

"One of my old bandmates was pissed at me one time and he said, 'Man, your
songs are better than you are,'" Williams remembers. "That was hard to hear, but
I had to save the line. I wrote the song in the back room of a venue before we
played one of our last shows together, and it really felt like this new beginning for
me."

Williams has never been one to pull a punch in his deeply personal songwriting.
On the fingerpicked "Pay No Mind," he imparts hard-won insight about what (and
who) really matters, while the folky "Freak Flag" is a devil-may-care ode to being
yourself, and "Little Too Stoned" laments the loss of the authentic in favor of our
society's obsession with the latest trends and fads. Elsewhere on the album, the
hard-charging "Hell Bent Hallelujah" offers up a profane prayer for some good
news, the infectious "More Than Survival" insists on living a life that's more
meaningful than just getting by, and "A Few Short Miles" draws inspiration from a
figure Williams met during those early days onstage in Texas.

"There was a fisherman down there who rescued an old acoustic guitar from a
dumpster after a hurricane came through Galveston," remembers Williams. "One
day I was in the bar restringing my guitar and he knocked on the door and gave it
to me. It was really inspiring getting to know him, and a lot of things he said to me
made it into that song."

Perhaps the most personal track on the record, though, is "Old Tattoo," a stirring
ode to Williams' grandfather and the strength of his mother and grandmother in
the face of his passing. "Time don't heal / It's just fadin' like the floors of an old
saloon," he sings. "You can hide the pain away / Even if it's carved right into you /
Like an old tattoo."

It's an arresting moment, and an apt metaphor for a songwriter with the ability to
lodge his melodies and lyrics deep beneath your skin. Forget fame and fortune,
hits and hype. As far as Williams is concerned, the legacy you leave behind with
the ones you care about most is the true measure of any man. With that in mind,
and with a debut album as good as 'Better Than Myself' under his belt, it's clear
that Alex Williams is here to do more than just survive.
Venue Information:
Beachland Tavern
15711 Waterloo
Cleveland, OH, 44110