From British Columbia

The Hungry Williams
(Rochelle Records)

I haven’t had this much fun listening to the blues since I first heard Powder Blues back in 1980. Playing blues with a lively sax section and some cool barrelhouse piano, The Hungry Williams are primed to show you a good time, and Brand New Thing will make your toes tap and it’ll put a smile on your face.

Aficionados will immediately recognize The Hungry Williams’ musical magic as ‘jump blues’, the kind of stuff I would jive to if I could actually dance. The band is led by drummer John Carr and includes the talents of Mike Sieger on bass, Joe Vent on guitar and Jack Stewart on keys while singer Kelli Gonzalez really belts it out. The sax section is Troy Leisemann, Julia Bustle and Bob Jennings. There’s a mid to late 50’s spirit at play, a carefree quality to these tunes that recall a bygone era of hope and optimism, of drive-in theaters and parking at the local lookout for steamy make-out sessions. The songs aren’t tawdry or overtly sexual, more free spirited than anything.

As a music fan in general and an occasional musician too, I can appreciate Brand New Thing on multiple levels; spirit, execution and musicianship. The problem an album like this can have is the nostalgic sound that some folks might not like, a ‘Happy Days’ vibe that might be lost on people under a certain age. The best thing to do when considering a disc like this, I find, is to suspend any musical prejudice and preconceptions. By all means enjoy the tunes, but try to tap into the energy the band is giving off as well. How does that make you feel? I think of this as zoot suit rock & roll.

The lyrical themes explored throughout Brand New Thing are as old as rock & roll itself, relationships, and the music itself is infectious. BNT is a keeper.


KEY CUTS: Where’s My Baby, It’s Raining Outside, Wild Wild Young Man