Meg Williams is a local Rochester singer-songwriter-guitarist who is releasing her newest EP, “For Now”, with her band, Meg Williams Band, in a show this Sunday (Oct. 11th 2015) at the Lovin’ Cup. Hailing originally from Hornell, NY, and is finishing her Bachelor of Music at Nazareth, took what is an ironically atypical path for the modern singer-song-writer guitarist.
Williams, 23, actually began taking formal guitar lessons in 6th grade.
“I’ve been playing guitar for thirteen-plus years,” Williams explains. “It’s a funny story. In 5th or 6th grade, my mom got a guitar, and I was like ‘I want to learn that!’ I feel bad that she never learned, but I did!”
She took lessons with Ken Marracek, at first, and continued formal lessons all throughout high school and college. Tearing through as music as she could, she discovered she had a taste for blues, rock, and jazz, and continued delving into those genres. But her singing and songwriting came later.
“I still consider myself a (primarily) guitarist,” Williams said.
That probably has something to do with the fact that she only began singing publically a couple years ago. She has sung since late in high school, saying, “in my junior or senior year of high school I started singing a bit.”
In addition to the blooming of her vocal talent, late in high school she began songwriting. Through her playing and listening, she began writing songs about her own life. She then shared these songs with her classmates, and received good feedback and “discovered [that I am] enjoying songwriting.” She saw it as a personal outlet and a way to express herself. At the beginning, she had so many ideas, short, small, musical, and lyrical that filled notebooks, scraps of paper, and Word documents. Williams says her singer-songwriting idols include Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, Norah Jones, and the John Mayer Trio.
Despite her singer-songwriter prowess and influence, Williams says that she still thinks of the great blues guitarists and blues rock bands as her playing influence, specifically mentioning the late BB King and Pink Floyd. This influence strongly affected the eclectic sounds of her first album, “Troubles to the Wind”, released in May of 2014.
Like all the greats, Williams had a quick answer for what axes she plays.
“I play a Gibson Les Paul double cut away for my electric, and a Breedlove acoustic-electric.” Williams plays out in both acoustic and heavier settings, but cultivates a different sound for each.
“I suppose ‘earthy’ would be good a word to describe my acoustic sound,” Williams said. Elements of folk, jazz, and jazz pop permeate her acoustic sets, which she usually performs with her boyfriend and local first-call bassist, Eastman Danny Ziemann on upright. However, the sound of her full band, a five-piece group, is more of a “soulful rock,” and saying on her website that the band is “funk-rock at its core.”
The group consists of Williams and her friends. Ziemann is on electric bass, Matt Bevan-Perkins on drums, Sara Rogers on trumpet, and Wills McKenna on tenor sax… At least on the album.
“Wills is in Chicago and Matt is in Nashville,” Williams said. “I wanted to make sure we recorded the album and preserve that sound before they left. Rochester is a great city for music, and thankfully there a lot of people we call to fill in when the band plays.” Main recording for the album took place this past May.
Williams is also fresh off an appearance on 98.9’s Sunday Night Shakedown to promote the EP.
“It was so much fun,” Williams said. “Woody & Frank are great; [they’re ] so funny. Danny joined me on bass – we played a song live titled ‘Caught Up’ from the new EP.”
Williams is excited for the release concert, saying “it’s gonna be fun.” The show is at the Lovin’ Cup, Sunday October 11th, from 6pm-9pm. The lineup is Jon Lewis Band at 6pm, Meg Williams Band at 7pm, and Mighty High and Dry at 8pm.
The EP will be available physically at the concert and after, and digitally on iTunes, and Amazon.
You can check out Meg and her band here!